Oki Islands Part 1/3 – Dogo Island

On 25-28th May, I went on my first ever solo-trip within Japan. Having googled extensively ‘hidden places in Japan’ ‘best off-the-beaten-track places in Japan’ (which I am aware sort of ruins the idea that they are hidden, but what else can you do?), I decided that I would head to Shimane, and to the Oki Islands.

They are a set of over 100 islands in the Sea of Japan, though only the 4 largest islands are inhabited – which are also split into 2 groups: the Dozen (島前) Island group (literally translated to “before islands”, and Dogo (島後) Island – literally “Island After”.

I only managed to go two islands on this trip – Dogo and Nishinoshima (西ノ島: lit. West island). This post will give a brief account of my day and evening in Dogo.

I took the ferry from Shichirui Port at 9am, which took a couple of hours to get to Dogo. I’d never been seasick before so I figured I’d be alright, but lying down on the floor next to several other people as the boat slowly rocked side to side did not do me any favours.

But seasickness aside, the view was pretty awesome (minus the dirty windows) and I got to Dogo in one piece. I wandered around for a little bit, having got there too early to be able to pick up the rental car, and grabbed an early lunch in front of the port – a halfway decent karaage and rice.

Then I went to pick up the car – no issues there, and headed out. My first main port of call was … waterfall, but I found a few stops along the way.

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These boat houses were said to have been built in the 19th Century, in a single night. The angle was pretty off, and the view from the back of them was mostly ivy, but it was a cute little spot and the islands opposite were pretty.

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This is a Shrine next to the boat houses that I just thought looked really gorgeous, especially the bright pink flowers to the left.

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Once you make your way through the winding forest road, you end up parking a little in front of this torii gate, the entrance to a 5-10minute walk up to the waterfall. I was literally the only person here the entire time, and it was nice just to take a breather, soak in the greenery and the quiet sound of the stream flowing down from the waterfall, and just relax.

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You had to climb a few stairs and go through this gate. behind me is one of the waterfalls. There are two, a male and a female, on either side of the shrine (though most photos – including mine – are of the male is it is much easier to see/generally nicer). Both waterfalls then merge at the bottom of the steps to create the stream that flows down the side of the path back towards the car park.

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The view from behind the waterfall. My current camera isn’t that great, so this is the best photo that I took, but it was stunning from human eyes. I prayed briefly at the shrine behind me, then went and sat down on the path for a while and just relaxed, before heading back to the car.

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Next I headed to Misaki Cape – with one of the first Japanese-built lighthouses in Japan. I had scheduled a boat ride to go and see “Candle Rock” (named for the fact that if you line up right as the sun sets, the sun hovering over the rock’s silhouette makes it appear to be a candle), but due to strong winds and choppy waves it was unfortunately cancelled. But despite the wind, I walked down the path all the way to the lighthouse – and met around 4 cows on the way. They didn’t seem to be too bothered by me, thank goodness, but I have to say I think the view from here was better.

The one other thing I did was head back to the port, as – unlike the well-prepared person I usually am – I’d forgotten the cord to charge my phone (despite having bought a battery pack and everything). Luckily, when the Tourism Department called me to tell me that the boat ride had been cancelled I was able to ask and they gave me the name of the electronics store where I was luckily able to buy one.

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Finally that day, I headed to Fukuura Tunnels – man-made tunnels that show the development from times of old, where they used pick-axes and so on to cut out the rock, to modern-day machinery that cuts everything out simply. Although it appears cars used to be able to pass through the tunnels, they are no longer able to, but I enjoyed the quietness of them only contrasted by the crashing of the waves outside.

I then found a campsite for the evening – though it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped as three or so of the campsites had warning signs around the area saying that pesticides had been released to stop a specific tree-eating insect, and the other campsite on the beach was empty, but I couldn’t get in touch with the manager and I didn’t want to risk it, so I settled for another campsite close to a different sea, and it was all okay. The rain was pretty strong during the night, and it was pretty terrifying being the first time I’d ever solo-camped and what if I got murdered in the night?

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But I slept pretty well, and woke up to a rainbow in the distance – though in my sluggish state by the time I’d got my camera it had disappeared. I headed down to the beach and snacked on food I’d picked up yesterday, before doing heading to the Chichi-sugi (literally, breast cedar tree), which is an 800 year old tree in the heart of the forest. It was pretty stunning, though I had no idea where to park. Luckily, being the only one there again, I parked on the side of the road and didn’t really worry about it, though turning around was a little nerve-wracking.

Then I headed to Lizard Rock, which is a rock that sticks out of the side of a peak of a mountain, and looks, as you’d expect, like a lizard. I’d forgotten my telescopic zoom lens for my camera so all my photos turned out pretty awful, but it was pretty impressive I have to admit.

Finally, I headed back to the port to return the car, grab a pizza at a local well-reviewed pizzeria, before getting on the fast Rainbow Jet ferry to Nishinoshima.

All in all, I did enjoy my time at Dogo Island, though I didn’t feel as welcome as I would on Nishinoshima. It was stunning, though the constant overcast clouds and choppy seas made for a lack of opportunities to do as much as I would have liked to. Plus, with the pesticides in the air, although I ignored a couple of the signs and went to a few spots anyway, I was a little too nervous to fully enjoy all my time there. I guess it means I can always go back, maybe next time even with friends, but I don’t think it will be the first place I think of when I want a holiday.

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