Islands of Aichi: Himakajima
Did you know that Aichi Prefecture has a number of islands that you can get to in under two hours from Nagoya? Himakajima (日間賀島), Sakushima (佐久島) and Shinojima (篠島) are also great places to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday urban life, either for the day or overnight.
Himakajima, known as the closest island to Nagoya, is located in Mikawa Bay (only around 80 minutes), 2.4 km off Morozaki at the tip of the Chita Peninsula. A treasure trove of delicacies from the sea, the island is sometimes referred to as ‘octopus island’ or ‘fugu (pufferfish) island,’ and visitors are greeted by a large octopus monument upon arrival, and octopus and fugu can even be found on manholes around the island.
Come November, the sight of dried octopuses swaying in the breeze can be seen here and there around the island. It is said that these stretched and dried octopuses are the origin of the expression ‘hippari-dako‘ (ひっぱりだこ, lit. ‘pulled octopus’), meaning ‘to be in great demand.’ At New Year, they are presented as offerings to the patron deity to pray for bumper catches, the safety of one’s family, and good health. It is from this that the island gets one of its other names, ‘Tako-no-shima‘ (多幸の島, lit. ‘island of much happiness,’ but with the same pronunciation as ‘octopus island.’).
The winter months are the best time for fugu. The season for fugu cuisine begins in October. As the weather gets colder, fugu becomes even tastier.
On October 12, the 11th Tessa (thinly-sliced fugu sashimi) Arrangement Contest was held, with free bowls of fugu
soup for visitors. Visitors using the West Port were asked to vote to select the winners from among the 18 entries.
Several establishments offer fugu cuisine in courses, with fugu prepared and served in a variety of ways, sometimes with the option of enjoying a hot bath, either as part of an overnight stay package, or for day visitors (see the Himakajima Tourism Association website for details). Travel agents including Meitetsu World Travel (名鉄観光) also offer packages with or without accommodation.
Even on foot, it only takes about two hours to get all the way around Himakajima, but renting a bicycle at either the West Port (西港) or East Port (東港) and cycling around to the island’s sights is another option.
For lovers of seafood who want to catch their own, fishing gear can also be rented near the high speed boat disembarkation points, and you can also arrange to be taken out to try fishing on a boat. In summer, you can also try the unique experience of catching octopuses with your bare hands.
Other summer attractions include Himakajima’s beaches. The Sunrise Beach (サンライズビーチ) on the eastern side offers a great view of the rising sun in the morning, and you can watch the sunset on the western side’s Sunset Beach (サンセットビーチ). A number of events are held over the summer, including up-close dolphin encounters.
By train: From Kowa Station (河和駅, around 50 minutes from Nagoya) on the Meitetsu Kōwa Line (名鉄河和線) walk to Kōwa Port (河和港, 5 minutes) and take a high speed boat to Himakajima (around 20 minutes; Adults 1,400 Yen one way, 2,690 Yen return / Children 710 Yen one way, 1,360 return). Boats stop at West Port or East Port, or both, then go on to Shinojima (篠島).
By car: From Morozaki Port (師崎港) take a high speed boat to Himakajima (around 10 minutes; Adults 700 Yen one way, 1,340 return / Children 350 Yen one way, 670 Yen return). Boats stop at either West Port or East Port. See the Meitetsu Kaijō Kankō-sen (名鉄海上観光船) website (Japanese) for details of high speed boat services from Kōwa and Morozaki.
・Aichi Islands Project (あいちの離島アジト化計画, Aichi Prefecture): http://www.rito.aichi.jp/
・Himakajima Tourism Association: http://www.himaka.net/
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