Sakushima: Discover the famous Aichi’s Island of art

Sakushima, also known as “the island of the winds”, is one of the 3 islands located in the Mikawa Bay, which together with Himakajima and Shinojima form the Aichi Archipelago.

This small island of about 1.8 km in length and a population of 300 inhabitants is the largest of the islands of the Mikawa Bay. Sakushima not only offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, but is also “an outdoor art gallery” with 22 pieces of modern art scattered throughout the island. You will not want to miss this one day getaway!

Sakushima beach

A brief history

Sakushima has about 15,000 years of history. As various ceramics from the Jomon period (Japan prehistoric period, between 14,000 and 300 BC) and the Yayoi period (300 BC-300 CE) were discovered there.

In the Edo era, the island was very prosperous thanks to the shipping industry. Numerous small local temples and sanctuaries were also built in during this period (the Hakken millennial sanctuary near the port, built in the early years of this era, has been designated as Aichi’s cultural heritage).

In 2000, several art installations and sculptures were built as part of the ArtPlan21 project to encourage visitors to visit the magnificent natural beauty of the island.

Currently, in Sakushima the main industries are fishing and tourism.

Sakushima Bay

Exploring the island

Despite being a small island in reality, there is a lot to see and do in Sakushima. There are many paths that you can follow to get from one place to another. And although walking and sightseeing is fun, I recommend renting a bicycle, since it takes time to travel back and forth between the West Port and the East Port.

Sakushima Sakushima

Apart from the stretches of coastline, most of the island is covered by forest, with bamboo forest and bushes of camellia, plum trees and Japanese wild radish.

Sakushima flowers

While you walk around the island, admiring the art, you may find one of the 88 small sanctuaries scattered around the island. Or maybe even an old grave covered by trees, which is said to be a thousand years old.

Sakushima Art

A modern artistic island

Sakushima is inspired by other island of art in Japan, Naoshima, in the Kagawa Prefecture. And like Naoshima, art and nature are keywords to appreciate even more the visit to the island. Before starting the visit make sure to take a map of the island in the Information Center that is right in front of the port as soon as you get to Sakushima.

Ferry to Sakushima Ferry to Sakushima

Sakushima Bay

From the 22 works of sculpture and modern architecture that are exhibited around the island. It is worth highlighting the “Hirune House” (The Nap House), “East House”  and “Kamome Chushajo” (literally meaning The Seagull Parking).

“Hirune House” was designed by artist Yuki Minamikawa in 2004. It is a box structure painted black, with nine windows that evokes nine different views of the Island. People can climb the stairs to see the world in an alternative way.

Ohirune House Sakushima

Minamikawa also designed “East House” in 2010. It is a white structure in the shape of a box that serves as a frame for the views of it’s surroundings, from any point of the structure, even at the top.

East House Sakushima

The “Kamome Chushajo” is a flock of metallic gulls on stilts along a breakwater. This artwork allows you to see how the direction of the wind changes as it enters the bay.

Seagull Parking Sakushima

After visiting the art facilities and exploring the island, you can cool off by taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of Sakushima’s many beaches, such as the Oura Beach Resort. Or, you can visit the many small shops and cafes that populate the island.

Seagull Parking Sakushima

Tasting the local food

As fishing is abundant throughout the year, the main diet of the locals is fish, seafood, sea cucumbers. The main specialty of Sakushima are the giant clams (Oasari Don). Each restaurant has its own style of cooking them. Some grill with butter or others, steamed.

Sakushima Food
Photo via Sakushima Tourism Association website

Also, do not miss the octopus, the second specialty of the island. They serve it whole steamed or as shabu shabu.

Sakushima Food
Photo via Sakushima Tourism Association website

You can also try other dishes made with local vegetables and homemade sweets.

Sakushima Food

Here I leave a video presentation of Sakushima, made by Yoshiro Imai STUDIO i.

Travel tips

1.I recommend you to rent a bicycle. You can travel more comfortable and faster from end to end of the island. Also, if you go during the summer the bicycle trip will save you from having a heatstroke during the trip.

2.Access to Sakushima by public transport can be a bit tough because you have to make several transfers. If you can the better option is to rent a car in and go by car to he ferry station.

3.If you go by public transport, the last bus back to Nishio station is at 3:35. To catch the last bus you have to get on the 2:15 p.m ferry back. This limits a lot the time you can enjoy at the island.

Getting Here

By train + bus + ferry
From Nagoya station, take the Meitetsu train to Kira-Yoshida and get off at Nishio station. Leave the station in the direction of the bus stop. Take the Tobukotsu line of Meistetsu bus  bound to Nishio-Isshiki and get off in Isshiki Sakana Hiroba stop. There you will arrive at the Sakushima Ferry station. Take the ferry to Sakushima and within 15-20 minutes you will arrive to the island.

General Information

Sakushima Hirako, Isshiki-cho, Nishio-shi, Aichi-ken
Google Maps

Visit the Sakushima Tourism Association website