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Takamatsu, a city of art facing a jewel of the world: the Seto


Art Setouchi in Ogijima 1

2010.09.02 by Cathy Hirano
Over a month has passed since Setouchi International Art Festival began and I have been making steady progress in visiting each island. Although each is special, there's one I keep going back to ? Ogijima. I'd like to share some tips for getting around the island and, in the next article, some of its special charms. (For tips on navigating the festival in general, check out Pat's article at http://pat.ashita-sanuki.jp/e308385.html . For helpful advice on planning an itinerary for the festival as a whole, check out the following site: http://onafloatingbridge.com/slow-travel/getting-around-setouchi-intl-art-festival)

Photo : Ogijima port and village

Getting Around: The Japanese guidebook says you can see all the art sites on Ogijima in between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. I have not succeeded in doing that yet and I've been 3 times. I suspect it would be possible if I were more Japanese or business-like in my approach but that's not why I go! Personally I'd allow at least 4 hours with time to stop for lunch, for beverages, for hobnobbing with the locals and other travelers, and to do some art. If you want to take a swim or see the rest of the island, give yourself a day. At the Ogijima port cultural exchange center, Art Site #43, volunteers (some English-speaking) will give you a recommended route designed to fit the amount of time you have. If you're like me and don't like crowds, follow the route in reverse order and don't worry about the time. The center also sells art festival passports, maps, souvenirs, etc.

Photo : #43 cultural exchange center at the port

There are frequent signs along the way so you won't get too lost and if you do, the islanders and visitors are helpful and friendly.

Keeping Cool: The heat wave that has gripped Japan for the last month looks like it will continue until at least mid-September. If you are traveling when it's hot, I recommend taking the 8:00 ferry because it gets you to Ogijima while there is still shade. The village meanders up a very steep hill at the top of which is a shrine with Art Site #57.

Photo : Hill to the shrine

Photo : Steps to the shrine

If you climb up there first, you can spend the rest of your time wandering downhill, which requires less exertion and lets you enjoy the shade of the houses.

Photo : Resting at the top of the hill Site #57

Take some towels and one or two drinks with you. You can buy more drinks at vending machines, a small local store and at some art sites (pricier but good).

Food and Drink: Speaking of which, Onba Factory (Site #51) makes a very cool and refreshing homemade ginger ale for 500 yen as well as homemade honey and lemon squash. They also serve beer and nibbles. It's a limited menu but they offer welcome shade and a fan-induced breeze plus a great view of the sea. Admission is free so you can visit as often as you like.

Photo : #51entrance to Onba Factory

Dream Cafe outside Site # 46 Kawashima & Dream Friends has a great burger for 580 yen. The patty is made of fish paste, which I know sounds terrible but it's actually delicious. The salad with octopus and the soymilk ice cream are also excellent.

Photo : Dream Cafe

Photo : Meon burger in the making

Photo : Meon burger in the eating

Personally, I also like the little restaurant facing the port, which serves simple fare like fried noodles with ingredients harvested here on the island but I haven't had a chance to go since the festival started. Fellow blogger Pat stumbled on another local eatery he claims is great with lower prices. It's in a black wooden converted house, located at the port 45 degrees to the right when you are standing at Site #43 facing the village. Pat says it serves snow cones and fish dishes (an example shown below). I'm looking forward to trying it next time.

Photo : of fish cooking.

Another place I haven't tried yet but want to is the Urushi House Project (Site # 50) where they serve Japanese tea and sweets. This site is air-conditioned by the way. Drop in when you feel ready to melt. They told me no admission fee is required here either. Two local inns serve more substantial meals, although the official Setouchi Art guidebook says that advance reservations are required. And the visitors' center also sells limited amounts of takeout food, such as a local delicacy ? octopus rice.

Photo : Site #45 at Madoka. View through the Karakurin by Takashi Imura

Accommodation: Last but not least, for those of you who want to stay, I discovered a local temple between the two Site #47 locations that lets people stay overnight for only JPY 1,500 (TEL: 087-840-9612). I'm guessing that the accommodation is somewhat youth hostel like but the people seemed very friendly. You need to bring your own food but they'll let you use the kitchen. Accommodation at the two local inns costs JPY 8,000 for one night including breakfast and dinner, reservations required. (Madoka TEL: 087-873-0703. Hamaue Ryokan TEL: 087-873-0833.)

And that's it for logistics. Now all you have to do is hop on the ferry and enjoy!
For ferry schedules and fares see http://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/access/islands/#r9 or under Access at the English Art Setouchi site: http://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/

(Many thanks to fellow blogger Pat Scanlon for the photos of Dream Cafe, Meon burger in the making and roasting fish, and to Hiroko for the one of us resting at the top of the hill.)

This blog's writer

Cathy Hirano

I've lived in Japan since 1978. After graduating from a Japanese university with a BA in cultural anthropology in 1983, I worked as a translator in a Japanese consulting engineering firm in Tokyo for several years. My Japanese husband and I moved to Takamatsu in 1987 to raise our two children in a slower-paced environment away from the big city pressures. We've never regretted it. I work as a freelance translator and interpreter and am involved in a lot of community work, including volunteering for Second Hand, a local NGO that supports educational and vocational training initiatives in Cambodia, and for the Takamatsu International Association. I love living in Takamatsu.

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