3 hours from Takeshiba Pier in Hamamatsucho area, Tokyo. Shikinejima is a tranquil island that is one of the smaller of seven Izu islands.
In the beginning of May, three friends who share a love for spearfishing went on a trip to Shikinejima. The weather turned out great, and the place was a world away from the city!
Passing between jagged rocks.
You can spot hot springs, known in Japanese as onsens, dotted among the rocks.
I will be reporting about our trip, a group of men kind of like the disciples of the buddhist monk from Journey To The West, at Shikinejima, where you get an authentic experience of Mother Nature.
The first thing that struck us was how blue the ocean was.
The color of the ocean did not resemble that of Takeshiba at all.
The water near the pier has a depth of 5 to 6 metres, and yet you could see clearly to the bottom if you looked down.
Schools of tiny fish are swimming in their hundreds.
‘Wow this feels amazing!’ we couldn’t help but say out loud.
Man Of The Island
First, we head to Genpei(Japanese Only), the minshuku, or Japanese style B&B that would be housing us.
The wife of the proprietor came to pick us up at the pier, and in just 5 minutes we arrive at the minshuku.
There, we were met by the owner, a man with a hearty demeanor that just screams ‘I am a man of the sea!’.
Upon being asked what his recommendations were for the island, he told us,
‘The weather’s great today, so I would recommend renting a gentsuki (low power motor bike) and head to the beach. It’s really close from here. The island’s so small you can go full circle in no time. And also the onsen. All the onsens on this island are free.’
Ocher-colored bath with a slippery feel at Matsugashita-miyabi-yu(Japanese Only).
We quickly change into our swimwear and immerse ourselves in the water without hesitation.
The water was insanely hot, and I immediately contemplate why I keep making this same mistake over and over again.
We allow ourselves to mingle among the locals, listening in on the conversations exchanged between local missis.
We find out that there is a natural onsen just a little further down the road.
After soaking in the onsen, we feel energized and decide to try out the other place as well.
The other two, assuming it would literally be right around the corner, decided to set off with bare feet.
After about 50 steps, we begin to question whether or not we are heading in the right direction.
As usual, we start to quarrel before we get to our destination.
The paved road is replaced with a rocky, gravel path, and the two who decided to walk barefoot are now complaining of pain.
We arrive at the onsen.
Right in front of the ocean! (Ashitsuki Onsen)
At first glance you can’t tell where the onsen is, but once you step in it’s warm and comforting.
Our tired bodies are warmed down to the core, and even our hearts felt more at ease.
Then, we returned to our bikes and headed east to get a better look of the island.
An Exclusive View Of Shikinejima
From the fishing harbor, we bike along the path, zooming past a monument dedicated to Akiko Yosano, a Japanese author, poet, feminist, pacifist and social reformer of the Meiji Period.
Akiko Yosano monument
We arrive at Konokuchi park.
Both Niijima and desert island Hayajima are both visible from this excellent view point.
We saw some local kids playing.
It’s easy to forget the passing of time when you take a breather with the sound of children’s laughter in the distance.
From there, we decide to head north, to Tomari Beach.
This is the most popular beach on the island.
Looking over from the slightly elevated knoll at the rear of the beach, I felt as though I was on a private beach in the mediterraneans.
The circular bay came to its form naturally, and was used back in the days as a port.
The contrasting colors of the white sands and blue sea is exceedingly beautiful.
After visiting Nakano-ura beach, popular among divers, we decide it good time for a second round of onsen, and head south.
The island road does have some uphills and downhills, but with the help of a gentsuki you can easily go full circle in about 20 minutes.
An electric bike will also do.
The path down to the beach from the parking lot involves a descent down a cliff, and feels like a bit of an adventure.
Once at the beach, follow the rock walls to find multiple natural onsens.
Path down to Jinata OnsenThere really is nothing else.
The three of us chat as we dip into the onsens.
We hop from one onsen to the next, looking for one with just the right temperature.
The ocean waves splash in as we soak in gooey water.
Even though we shout and make complaints about it, all three of us are more or less completely relaxed by this point.
We laugh, commenting on how we have gradually gotten used to this wild environment.
Look everywhere in Japan, you will not find another onsen like this.
Return To Our Lodging
By the time we returned to our minshuku, the sky was beginning to darken.
Thanks to the onsen, our bodies feel light.
Dinner at the minshuku is a hearty meal with fresh ingredients such as locally caught fish and squid that the old man caught himself.
He tells us that after dropping us off at the harbor, he went out on his boat to catch some squid, and came home with a few dozen!
As we chatted with him over tasty island food, our fun-filled day at Shikinejima came to pass in no time.