At about 31 kilometers from the Kasaoka City mainland, Manabe is one of the populated islands of the Kasaoka Archipelago. Though its name comes from the Heian era clan that used to govern most of the islands in the chain, it is commonly referred to locally as “Cat Island” due to the usually large number of resident felines. The tranquil atmosphere of Manabe Island was forever captured in the 1984 film “MacArthur’s Children, which features and early on screen performance by world renown actor Ken Watanabe.
Another way in which to make contact with the island before visiting is to pick up a copy of the superbly illustrated book, “Manabe-shima” by Florent Chavouet. Published in 2010, it has captured the imagination of the French to such an extent that they make up the majority of the islands international visitors. One of the most fascinating structures on the island is Manabe Junior High School. Built in 1949 with the design of a Meiji era schoolhouse, it continues to operate as a public school today and is open to visitors even when class is in session, provided you check in with the teachers and are mindful of not making too much noise.
Other interesting places to visit on the island include the Manabe family residence, Enfuku Temple, the Manabe Island Village Archive and Manabe Island Fureai Park. There are quite a few options available regarding lodging, from small guesthouses to full-sized pensions. Meals are available at the inns themselves or at restaurants found around the island (some require reservations in advance). Ferries and water taxis can transport you to Manabe Island and it is best to check beforehand so you can figure out which mode is best for you.
Access: Take a five minute walk from Kasaoka Station to Kasaoka Port, then a 44 minute high speed ferry or 70 minute regular ferry to Manabe Island.
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