The village of Mishima 三島村
Three islands for one village
Since February 1952, the three islands of Takeshima, Iōjima and Kuroshima form the village of Mishima or Mishimamura. Located 100 kilometers south-west of Kagoshima, these islands, far from any tourist bustle, benefit from a luxuriant nature that has been wonderfully preserved. The opportunity to taste the sweetness of living in small Japanese island territories!
Splendid landscapes, hot springs, fishing and scuba diving spots are all attractions that the village of Mishima can be proud of. Trained administratively since 1952, Mishimamura offers a unique experience; that of taking the time to live . Life in Mishimamura is punctuated by the arrival of the ferry, allowing traffic and supplies. Accommodation is in minshukus and tours are on foot; ideal to take full measure of this rich nature and the island population (barely 400 inhabitants)!
Takeshima, the bamboo island
Takeshima is the closest island to Kagoshima (accessible in 3 hours by ferry) but also the smallest; only 4 km 2 . A species endemic to Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures, bamboos cover much of its area . Harvested in May, the bamboo shoot, both sweet and tasty, can be eaten raw or cooked. The banyan tree, a giant tree whose branches and roots intertwine, is another symbol of Takeshima.
Read : Hokoku-ji, the bamboo temple
At a bend in the path, you will come across a natural sculpture formed by these trees, like a bridge overhanging the road. Amid the banyan trees, the rokkozo , a strange cemetery with small sculpted pagodas, is worth a visit. The island has two small Shintô shrines, including the Hijiri Daimyô jinja, guarded by komaneko , cat sculptures instead of the usual komainu (lion-dogs). The cows raised on the farms of Takeshima, about a hundred, outnumber the inhabitants!
Iôjima, the volcanic one
The Iwodake, a volcano culminating at 703 meters above sea level, shapes the landscape and dominates Iôjima, located 4 hours by ferry from Kagoshima. Still active, the volcano provides natural hot springs . Iôjima has several open-air onsen , the most famous of which is undoubtedly Higashi onsen . Immerse yourself in one of its three natural pools on the rock to admire the sunset. Lulled by the sound of the waves, you have only one thing to do: relax!
Read also : Kirishima-yaku National Park
If among the many peacocks living on the island , you see a white peacock; know that this immaculate bird is a happy omen. Not far from Nagahama Bay , to the south-west of Iôjima, the cape of lovers, accessible since 1986 by a suspension bridge 80 meters high, offers an exceptional panorama which it would be a shame to do without. Finally, you might be intrigued by captivating djembe rhythms. The djembe, a traditional percussion instrument from West Africa, was introduced to the island by the Guinean musician Mamady Keita in 1994. Since then, concerts bringing together Japanese and Guinean musicians have taken place regularly and a djembe school has even opened its doors on Iōjima.
Kuroshima, the black island
Literally the black island, Kuroshima is the largest of the three islands of Mishimamura (15 km 2 ) and the furthest from Kagoshima (6 hours by boat). Its dense and lush forest has earned it the nickname Little Yakushima . It's up to you to find the little shrines lost in this vegetation! It is a nature reserve for wild birds and several rare varieties of plants and flowers.
From its cliffs like those of the "pointe de sel" where sea and salt have sculpted a unique site for millennia, the landscapes are breathtaking. Besides its beef and bamboo, Kuroshima is notable for its cultivation of shiitake mushrooms . In 1979, author Sawako Ariyoshi (1931-1984) wrote a short story set in Kuroshima. He had been deeply marked during his stay by the particular link that the inhabitants had with the surrounding nature and their sincere attachment to local customs. A stele also commemorates the novelist and his work.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableBetween 3h and 6h by ferry depending on your destination. Crossing times may vary depending on weather conditions.
Price7,000 yen (1st class) / 3,500 yen (2nd) one way for travel between mainland and islands 2,200 yen (1st class) / 1,100 yen (2nd) for travel between islands