Discover Kamijima, Japan’s Stunning 25-Island Town

Kamijima Japan

If you’re a frequent visitor to Japan and looking for somewhere new to explore, or even a newbie tourist in the country, but keen to travel where few do, consider Kamijima. The town is in the Ehime Prefecture, northwest of Shikoku, and comprises 25 islands.

Kamijima has just 6,500 people, with most living on its main four islands: Yugejima, Sashima, Ikinajima, and Iwagijima. Drive or cycle across these islands using the Yumeshima (Dream Island) Kaido road bridge. Other islands in Kamijima, including Uoshima, Takaikamijima, and Toyoshima, are accessible by ferry.

To get to Kamijima, fly into Matsuyama Airport, which has frequent connections to Japan’s major airports, as well as Seoul, Busan and Taipei. Or you can take a shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya to Okayama before catching another train from Okayama to Ehime.

Ahead are just a few of the highlight activities you can do while in Kamijima, Japan.

Visit Yuge Island’s White Sand Beach

Yuge is home to almost half of Kamijima’s population, with around 3,000 people living there. The island has restaurants, cafés, shops, hotels and guesthouses, and is home to a wide white sand beach on its east side, at the foot of the Hoogahara pine grove.

Swim or snorkel in its clear, calm waters in the warmer months. Or, if it’s chilly, visit nearby Yuge Shrine, which faces the Seto Inland Sea. The shrine is a focal point of Yuge’s October Fall Festival.

Don’t miss the opportunity to try okonomiyaki, a popular dish on the island. Four okonomiyaki restaurants on Yuge specialise in these delicious savoury pancakes “Hiroshima style”, layered with everything from noodles, egg and pork belly, and covered in a savoury sauce.

Sail Around the Islands

One of the best ways to see and experience the islands’ beaches and coastlines is by boat. Sailing tour options departing from Yuge will take you around Kamijima’s 25 unique islands at a relaxed pace. Along the way, you can visit secluded beaches or take short walks to remote lookouts with incredible views.    

Kamijima Japan Tours
Image: Kamijima Tours

Experience the Autumn Festivals (Matsuri)

During October, different districts across the islands of Kamijima have their own Matsuri festivals taking place over the weekends. These celebrations are most lively at night, filling the streets with parades, cultural spectaculars, and tasty festival foods. You’ll also witness the hospitality of the town’s local people as they serve sake to the Danjiri carriers during the festivals.

Camp on the Water’s Edge

Far removed from big city life, Kamijima is unsurprisingly popular for campers. If you’re keen to get up close to the wilderness during your visit, there are two idyllic camp spots to consider.

Kamijima Japan
Image: Sound Hakanda Camping Ground

Both will see you surrounded by mountainous scenery and perched so close to the shoreline, you’ll hear the water lapping. Sound Hakanda Camping Ground on Ikina Island and Eco-Field Matsubara on Yuge Island offer plenty of campsites and camping amenities.

Nature Walk or Cycle

Thanks to a network of road bridges between the main islands, cycling is a great way to experience the breadth of Kamijima’s topography and natural landscapes. Stop by some of the smaller settlements along the way.

With its vast natural beauty barely touched by civilisation, abundant walking trails around the islands lead to some of Japan’s most spectacular and remote lookouts.

Visit Yuge’s Mt Kushi for bird’s eye views over the ocean and towards the surrounding islands. There are also single-day or multi-day cycling or walking tour options available where you can experience the best of the islands by foot or bike with the experience of a local guide.

Witness the Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Spring

In spring every year, the islands of Kamijima become beautifully spruced with the pink hue of Japan’s famed cherry blossoms. The observation point at the top of “Castle Mountain” on Uoshima Island or the walk to the top of Mt Sekizen on Iwagi Island are impressive locations to see the best of Kamijima’s cherry blossoms. 

Related: How to Maximise Your Chances of Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Japan

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