Shodoshima / KagawaUmioto Mari: Treat yourself to a luxurious island break in Kagawa

Enjoying the sounds of the sea at Umioto Mari hotel

Shodoshima is a Japanese island offering beautiful scenery, delicious cuisine, and rich culture - the perfect contrast to big-city life. A stay at the Umioto Mari will make your island adventure feel even more special. This intimate hotel, which opened in April 2019, has just six rooms, all of which overlook the Seto Inland Sea. The food comprises gourmet Japanese cuisine underpinned by local Shodoshima flavors (especially olives). During your stay you can enjoy a variety of workshops and a hot stone/olive oil massage.

Classic yet modern Japanese decor

Umioto Mari's rooms are a mixture of traditional and modern

Each of Umioto Mari's guestrooms is unique. Entering the "Sa" room, your senses will revel in the smell of fresh tatami and the clean look of the classic yet modern Japanese decor. Beautifully designed woodwork plays a prominent role, from the panels hiding the TV to the traditional kumiko zaiku lattice that separates the bedroom area. The fridge is stocked with drinks including Kagawa tea, perfect for enjoying with Shodoshima's signature olive chocolates and crackers. The view from the private terrace is a delight, further enhanced by umioto, or "sounds of the sea" (the inspiration for the hotel's name). When the weather is fine, the sparkling waters of the Seto Inland Sea are beautifully tranquil, save for the occasional flying fish.

The view from the bath is a delight

The bath with private sea view is another highlight. Naturally, it's equipped with the latest Japanese bath technology. A touch screen panel lets you choose the desired temperature of your bathwater, which is automatically maintained by circulating hot water. The bath is designed in an onsen-style: generously sized and made using stones from the beach outside the window.

Savor Japanese gourmet cuisine with a twist

Chatting with the chef as he prepares a meal

Dinner at Umioto Mari is served in a traditional banquet style known as kaiseki, with 12 courses. But the food comes with a local twist: Shodoshima is renowned for its olives, and the chefs - both of whom hail from the area - have expertly woven the flavor of the small oval fruits into many of the dishes, including about 20 kinds of olive oil. To further enhance your dining experience, the chefs will suggest the most appropriate olive oil for the different foods (some of which change with the seasons).

Fresh sashimi and vegetables served with flavoring options

Many of the beautifully presented courses include oils, sauces, and seasonings on the side. The sashimi platter and selection of fresh vegetables are accompanied by small dishes of olive oil, soy sauce, sea salt, and moromi (a fermented ingredient produced when making sake). The Olive Wagyu (Japanese beef from cows whose feed included olives) comes with garlic powder, moromi powder, salt, and fresh wasabi that the chefs grind before your eyes. The beef becomes even more flavorsome when matched with the various flavorings.

A succulent beef dish at Umioto Mari

Don't worry if you're stumped about what combinations to choose - the chefs are happy to provide pointers. For example, they recommend pairing mild-flavored white fish with delicately fragrant olive oil or matching the bold moromi flavor with the refreshing crunch of crisp radish. After your meal, visit the on-site shop to purchase the same seasonings used by the chefs.

The shop sells the same seasonings as used by the chefs

Breathe life into broken glass and pottery through the art of kintsugi

Picking smooth glass and pottery pieces on the beach

Umioto Mari also offers guests a selection of workshops and tours exploring Shodoshima and Japanese culture. The seasonal workshops include an olive oil-making class and a cooking lesson for osechi ryori, Japanese food traditionally eaten at New Year. The tours change seasonally and include a trip to Sanchoku Ichiba morning market at Ikeda Port, as well as a special night visit to the mountain temple Goishizan, one of the stops on Shodoshima's 88-temple pilgrimage route.

After gluing pieces of glass and stone together, gold powder is used to decorate the item

One workshop that is likely of particular interest to foreign guests explores kintsugi, the Japanese art and philosophy of breathing new life into damaged pottery and glass by mending it and decorating it with gold. Rather than hiding damaged or broken items, this technique embraces such objects as a source of beauty, while celebrating their history.

Finished accessories sparkle in the island sun

Umioto Mari's kintsugi workshop leverages the hotel's beachfront location by allowing visitors to use sea glass, pottery pieces, and shells washed up on the sand to make accessories. After you've combed the sand for the prettiest pieces, an instructor will show you how to make hair clips, earrings, brooches, obidome kimono accessories, cufflinks, pins, magnets, and chopstick rests.

Enjoy a luxurious massage that uses Shodoshima olive oil

Visit Olive Park to discover a rich variety of olive-related products

With its unique Mediterranean-like climate (think plenty of sunshine and low rainfall), Shodoshima is one of the few places in Japan where olive trees can flourish. Though they grow all over the island, Olive Park is a great place for a close-up look. The shop sells a selection of high-class olive-based foods, cosmetics, accessories, and even olive ice cream.

Try an olive oil massage at Umioto Mari

For a more luxurious encounter with Shodoshima's signature product, book a hot stone/olive oil massage at Umioto Mari. The massage uses the finest olive oil produced on the island as well as Shodoshima-sourced stones. The massage begins with a consultation with the hotel's experienced, friendly masseuse. Next, she drapes a towel over your body and places the hot stones on top, which warm you with their heat.

Pre-massage consultation

After a standard massage, the perfectly smooth stones that have been soaked in olive oil are placed on your back. The combination of the stones and warm oil will relax you to the core. The delicate fragrance of olives also provides a subtle aromatherapy effect. This kind of massage is the perfect way to round off your stay on "Olive Island."

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stay Japan“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stay Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


Shodoshima / KagawaUmioto Mari: Treat yourself to a luxurious island break in Kagawa

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