Ogijima is one of those places that almost no one writes about. After some digging around I did find a few articles out there about this very special island, but they were not well written, or something that takes in mind what people might really want to experience. What you need to know about Ogijima is that is is a place that you absolutely must make an effort to see when you come to Kagawa Prefecture. I am going to take a few pages on this blog to help you get there safe and sound, and give you some background on this very unique and special jewel of the Seto Inland Sea.
Ogijima is a sibling island to Megijima (the one with the ogres!) and is just to the north. There is a ferry that goes every two hours from Takamatsu Port to Megijima to Ogijima and then back. The pleasant ride from Takamatsu to Ogijima takes about 40 minutes. The water is often calm so you will get some excellent photos of the water and the islands. The island itself is quite small, only 2 km long and you can easily walk everywhere.
Only about 150 people live on Ogijima so you know that this really is, “off the beaten track” Japan, and getting to this island village you will experience a very unique insight into how traditional Japanese people live.
One of the landmarks of Ogijima is a lovely stone lighthouse. The lighthouse is located at the north part of the island and is reachable within 30 minutes through a great forest path. Ogijima has one village, Ogichou, and the it is a great place to wander around. In it, you will see a number of art exhibitions. Some are permanent, some are long term, and some are only for a short time. This is, in some ways, a perfect metaphor for the island of Ogijima.
We could consider Ogijima as a place that has some permanence, in that it will always be around, despite depopulation, economic recessions, there is much that will remain despite temporary changes.
Let’s get back to why Ogijima is so cool.
For those who are familiar with some of the modern literature and manga art of the late 1990’s, Ogijima is the inspired location for a novel written by Koushun Takami, entitled “Battle Royale”. The novel was one of the original “jumping off” places for all kind of similar plotted stories where young people are pitted against each-other in “fight to the death” scenarios. A kind of Mortal Kombat “FINISH HIM” response to a now very common literary device. Seemingly exciting in the moment, but a tad tired and trite. The story has its fanbase, mainly younger people looking for inspiration in pop culture and manga. As a side note, there was some suggestion that the very famous “Hunger Games” is largely based on the story. Nevertheless, Koushun Takami most certainly deserves full credit for the literary work, which has had a global impact in modern pop culture.
That alone is good reason to check out Ogijima!!
Here are some sample of the art from his manga. You may be able to find scenes from the manga all over Ogijima. If you are a manga-fan, make sure to take a copy with you as you wander around. You may be in for a surprise or two along the way!
I found the whole island completely charming, and the residents are very patient and kind to visitors who intrude on their neighbourhoods. I think that they are part of the resilient spirit of the island that will be a permanent exhibit for Ogijima.
The island is so charming, I might just build a little house there to enjoy the best seasons of Japan, as well as the Art Festival.