Sunday, February 12, 2012

A little bit about Ieshima

   I've been living here on Ieshima now for 2 years but I have been coming here just about every year since 1995. I'd like to use this blog to tell more people about Ieshima and life on a Japanese island. A REAL island not like one of those massive things like Awajishima with a bridge connecting it to the mainland.

   Out here, there are no convenient stores, no traffic lights, no Starbucks, McDonalds or shopping malls. What we do have is a real community with real people and a slow-paced life that is probably much more like what Japan was like decades ago than most places you can find these days.

   Ieshima is a 35-minute boat ride from the port of Himeji. Lots of people come here to fish, eat good food or just find a nice relaxing place to get away and gaze at the beautiful natural scenery of the Setonaikai (Inland Sea). When you're high on the mountains in Ieshima, the Inland Sea is spread out in front of you and it looks like a giant stone garden with the 44 islands of Ieshima standing out like beautiful moss-covered stones. When you do that, you can see why the people of Ieshima believe that this is "Onogoroshima", the island of myth that is described in the Kojiki as the first island created when the water droplets fell from Izanagi and Izanami's jeweled spear.

   Ieshima is mostly known now for 2 things; Fish and rocks. The stone of Ieshima has been mined for thousands of years and was used, for example, in Osaka Castle. But long before then, there was an ancient trade route between Ieshima and Takasago whereby Ieshima provided the stones that Takasago craftsmen turned into stone tombs and such. Fossils discovered here actually show that people have been living on Ieshima for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. There is even a nice stone tomb here from 1,100 years ago that you can visit.

   Ieshima is most famous, though, for its delicious fish. If you get used to the fish here, it is hard to eat fish anywhere else. Here you can still have a barbecue on the beach and dive into the water and come back with a fresh abalone, octopus or sazae to throw onto the grill --and it doesn't get much better than that!

   I'll try to post photos and more information about Ieshima as time passes. Please don't hesitate to drop me a line anytime with questions or comments.

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