Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture is a microcosm of the best of Japan. The compact island sits within the sparkling Seto Inland Sea and offers everything from natural wonders to delicious cuisine. It also boasts traditional and modern art, a wild monkey park, terraced rice fields, soy sauce and sake breweries, and an ancient 88-temple pilgrimage route followed by pilgrims clad in traditional white garb. For the perfect base to explore the island, book a stay at Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu in the Sakate Port area.
Traditional feel with a fresh, modern atmosphere
The Sakate Port area - in the southeast of Shodoshima - is home to a picturesque island community, a mere ferry ride from Japan's major cities. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of urban Japan and relax in a charming neighborhood comprising winding alleyways, retro buildings, and even a tiny craft beer brewery. Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu is located within a recently renovated traditional Japanese house, five minutes on foot from Sakate Port. The port directly links Shodoshima with Kobe City on Japan's main Honshu island, as well as Takamatsu City on the island of Shikoku. It's also a short bus ride away from Shodoshima's other ports.
Anzu has just three guestrooms: a private triple room and two dormitory rooms (with three beds each) for men and women, respectively. Each guestroom has a traditional Japanese feel, with tatami floors, futons that you roll out yourself, and design elements like sliding shoji doors, calligraphy wall-hangings, and a tokonoma alcove with a scroll painting. The small size of the guesthouse means conversations naturally spring up between guests; after a short time, you'll be making new friends from around the world.
During the day, you can roll up your futon and lay out the provided floor cushions and low tables. There's also a sitting area with a fridge, microwave, and hot water kettle where you can enjoy a cup of tea. This area looks out on the lovely terrace, where meals are served when the weather is fair. The surrounding garden has fresh herbs and vegetables. The spotlessly clean toilet and bath facilities are shared, and there's a washing machine on-site if you need it.
A terrace cafe with local flair
Owner Teruaki Kubo prepares and serves breakfast to staying guests (and non-staying guests) from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Enjoy your food on the terrace with views of the majestic mountains on one side and the blue inland sea beyond the houses on the other. You'll receive the Japanese version of a western breakfast, complete with a salad, boiled egg, and toast made with Japan's unique fluffy white bread. For a drink, you can choose between coffee made with local beans or fresh orange juice.
The cafe also serves lunch prepared with local ingredients. The lunch options include a set meal featuring Shodoshima delicacies: kakimaze gohan (rice mixed with local produce), somen (thin noodles in a clear broth, a specialty of Shodoshima made in a factory on the island), and tsukemono pickles. You can also choose the seasonal pasta (the offering in October was pasta with seasonal mushrooms served with a side salad).
Friendly hospitality from proud islanders
Chef Setsuko Ueshima, who lives in the neighborhood, cooks the cafe's lunch offerings. Setsuko has worked at Anzu since it opened. She explains: "It's fun to work here making food and talking with customers. They're always surprised at how many foods are produced locally on Shodoshima, from soy sauce to sake, olives, sesame oil, and somen noodles."
Serving local ingredients in her dishes offers Setsuko the opportunity to showcase Shodoshima's food culture. Setsuko is a proud islander. "Customers always ask if I'm from Shodoshima, and I proudly tell them I was born and raised here," she says. "I've known people who tried moving to big cities, but they've come back because they miss the island life. Some people who come here on holiday love it so much they buy houses here."
Shuhei Kono is one of those people. Originally from Kobe, he fell in love with Shodoshima after many visits and eventually decided to move here. Shuhei now works at Anzu and loves offering sightseeing recommendations for his new hometown.
Ask him a question about the local area, and he'll pull out a map, directing you to all his favorite spots, including Kankakei Gorge and the view from the Goishizan stop on the Shodoshima pilgrimage route (though Shuhei points out that care is needed while walking on the rough-and-ready path).
- Accommodation name:
- Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu
- Accommodation address:
- Sakate-ko 646, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
- 5 p.m.–7 p.m.
- 9 a.m.
- Cafe hours:
- Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m./Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Price per person (tax included):
- from 3,500 yen for a dormitory bed; from 7,000 yen for a reserved room; from 450 yen for breakfast; from 500 yen for lunch
- Monday, Tuesday
- Languages available:
- Japanese/Basic English
Pull on a lifejacket and go fishing with the locals
Anzu owner Teruaki Kubo also runs Shodoshima Tours, a company offering several island experiences, including a walking tour of Sakate with a local guide, sea-kayaking to an uninhabited island, and boat and cycling tours. Don't miss the fishing boat tour aboard Daisan Kazenoko Maru, during which you can watch local fishermen pull aboard a varied catch.
There's nothing "touristy" about this genuine fishing boat. Sit on the sides and watch as the fishermen pull up their 500-meter-long net filled with all kinds of sea creatures. You might see stingrays, sea bream, flounder, rockfish, eels, squid, and more. A crew member pulls up a floor panel to reveal a hollow area filled with water where they throw in the catch. They're especially happy when they catch red-spotted groupers, which will fetch top prices at the market before being served at an elegant gourmet restaurant.
The fishermen introduce themselves as Mr. Mori and Mr. Sorata, who have over 50 years of fishing experience between them. Their faces break into broad grins when guests react to a particularly unsightly or slippery fish (it's wise to wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet). Your time on the water is sure to get you in the mood for seafood.
- Organization name:
- Shodoshima Tours
- Organization address:
- Sakate-ko 416, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
- Fishing boat tour
- Meeting point:
- Sakate Port Tourist Information Center;Sakate-ko 1847, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
- 3,500 yen (tax included)
- Reservations required; must be 6 or older
- Languages available:
- Japanese/Basic English