Yajima and Kyojima 矢島・経島
Taraibune boats can be seen only around Yajima and Kyojima, Sadogashima.
Yajima and Kyojima are two picturesque islands located off the coast of Ogi, which borders the sea southwest of the island of Sado (Sadogashima) in Niigata prefecture.
A taraibune traditional boat
Yajima and Kyojima, Sadogashima
The bridge between the two islands of Kyojima and Yajima
Connected by a bright red arched bridge, these two islets are surrounded by clear turquoise water, making it a very picturesque landscape. It's possible to explore this idyllic place by way of a small round boat typical of the island of Sado, called a tarai-bune.
But these two small islands are more than just an attractive landscape, both are linked to a legend. The smallest, Kyojima, means "the island of the sutra". It's said that in the thirteenth century, Nichiro, a disciple of the monk Nichiren, sent into exile on the island of Sado by the military government of Kamakura, was shipwrecked on this island while travelling to announce to his master that he had been granted forgiveness. Nichiro would have recited sutra (kyo in Japanese) throughout the night spent on the island. Today, there is a small house with a thatched roof on this tiny piece of land surrounded by the sea, like something out of a fairytale.
Much larger than its neighbor, Yajima is lined with jagged rocks. At low tide, you can walk around and admire the clear waters - with appropriate shoes, of course! Its name means "arrow island", because a kind of bamboo (Pseudosasa Japonica) is grown there, famous for use in the manufacture of arrows. In the famous 12th century book "The Tale of the Heike", there is mention of the samurai Yorimasa Minamoto, who, in 1153, killed a nue, a fantastical creature from Japanese mythology, with a bamboo arrow from Yajima.
On Sado island, you can see the last tarai-bune.
Read also : Sado Island
Tarai-bune: Bowl boats
These little oval-shaped boats, invented in the 1880s, made of cedar wood and bamboo, were mainly used by women for seaweed fishing and to catch shellfish such as turbo cornutus (sazae) or abalone (awabi), popular in Japan. These boats were only found around Sadogashima and on the coasts of the former province of Echigo (in present-day Niigata prefecture). There are currently only about 200 of these "bowl boats" (tarai means bowl and fune or bune, boat), used in half a dozen fishing villages in Sado, mainly for tourism. The port of Ogi, Yajima and Kyojima are the three places where you can take short trips (about 10 minutes) in tarai-bune, accompanied by a rower in local costume or paddling alone.
In Hayao Miyasaki's famous animated film "Spirited Away", Chihiro can be seen for a moment aboard a tarai-bune.