by Nicholas Amrit Rajalal
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago official website for for their JET Programme series. You can view all articles here.
This beautiful island is located off the coast of Oita Prefecture. You can get to it via a 20-minute ferry ride from the Kunisaki peninsular. The staff there are super friendly and helpful so do not be scared to ask for any information needed even if your Japanese ability is limited. You can take your car on the ferry with you, or you can rent a bicycle on the island when you get there. When we got to the island, we realized that there are also small electric cars that you can rent as well, which were one-seater, two-seaters and even 7 seaters. Next time we plan to rent some of those and maybe live out our Mario cart dreams on the island.
Himeshima means “Princess Island” and it is inhabited by approximately 2000 or so people. They are famous for tiger prawns which they farm right on the island and is one of the main reasons people make the trip over. Unfortunately, the time we visited it was closed but I want to try the prawns at the most famous restaurant there called Ichifuku. Besides the prawns one other main attraction on the island are butterflies, they are said to visit the island twice a year, in early June and in November. When we visited it was rather early, but we were told that it is quite a sight and experience to be surrounded by millions of colorful butterflies.
Himeshima is small but it packs a big punch, you can have a day filled with sightseeing around the island, the tourist center near the port is extremely helpful and the staff very accommodating and friendly. Some of the gift shops nearby have handcrafted bags and other items from elders from the island so it is nice to support them. There is also a lighthouse that you can visit and, in my opinion, the place on the island with the best view is the Sennin-do, which is a small temple that sits on a rock overlooking the ocean. The rocks that surround the temple are obsidian which are interesting to feel and look at. The story of the temple is also amusing, it says that on New Year’s Eve a thousand villagers hid there from the tax collectors. That made us chuckle because we were searching for some hidden compartments. After all, as I said the temple is quite tiny.
Overall, visit Himeshima if you could, you would not be disappointed!