The Chinese characters for Shodoshima mean “little bean island”, but there is nothing small or especially bean-like about the island. The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima is part of Kagawa Prefecture, but is easily accessible from ferries running from Okayama Prefecture as well.
It is no exaggeration to say that Shodoshima is one of the most beautiful islands in Japan. The island’s varied topography, distance from the mainland, flora and fauna, agriculture, beaches, townscapes, historic sites, art installations and vigorous residents paint a picture of a place that has everything.
In popular culture, Shodoshima gained notoriety as the setting for the classic Japanese movie 24 Eyes, which is about the lives of twelve students and their teacher and the trials they faced as the country moved through the years surrounding the war. There is a museum/park dedicated to the film, where you can walk around the remarkable seaside set.
International travelers will find plenty to do, see, and experience on Shodoshima. Cycling, hiking, jogging and town strolls are common activities for visitors. Sightseeing is another enjoyable pursuit, with some notable spots including Meiro Machi (Maze Town), the Olive Park, Kankakei Gorge and Ropeway, and the Choshikei Monkey Park.
Foodies will enjoy touring a soy sauce museum to learn about the 400-year-old tradition of making soy products on the island. Tsukudani, which are pieces of seafood or vegetables preserved in soy sauce and eaten with plain rice, are another item that visitors can learn about. Sesame seed oil and olive products are also locally produced.
Udon, (thick noodles) is another of Shodoshima’s specialties. Traditionally made by farmers in the winter after the rice harvest was complete, you can find production facilities throughout the island. Udon-making workshops are available by reservation.
Finally, Shodoshima is part of the Setouchi International Art Triennale; as such, many permanent installations of contemporary art are on view all over the island. The artwork makes a wonderful contrast between modernity and tradition as well as the natural and the artificial.