If you’re looking for local products on the Oki Islands, then you can visit Yao riverside area. There are small cafes and homely restaurants that will let you truly relax while feeling the hospitality of the Oki Islands. Here in a 15-minute walk you will also find many souvenir shops and local handcrafts. While visiting Yao riverside, it is easy to imagine a historic site or attraction and view it in the present day. You can learn the history and story behind the place you are visiting and envisage it the way it was decades or hundreds of years ago.
Where to shop
Kyomiyabunten Shop: One of my favorite finds is Kyomiyabunten shop which is a curated selection of Shimane Prefecture handmade crafts, camping tools and cycling accessories. This is a great little shop to visit if you’d like to buy handmade crafts and lifestyle tools made in Japan to take home. When I visited the ruins of Iwami silver mine in Shimane Prefecture several years ago, I happened to visit Moriyama kiln and bought a coffee pot. The same Moriyama kiln’s ceramics are featured here.
Where to eat
POMODORO: We had a tasty pizza with a rich sauce and a generous spread of cheeses and oils. The owner said it was hard to create a special, original recipe for their pizza dough with crispy and chewy texture made from rice flour. They experimented by baking pizzas with seaweed salt and rice flour produced on Oki Islands that contain many minerals and finally invented this delicious crispy and chewy pizza. Shugetsudo Sweet Shop: This cute little Japanese sweet shop is a delight to visit, not only for its sweets, but also for the cute interior. One of my favorite sweets was sweet bean-jam filled wafers that were shaped like a turban shell. The madeleines and ice creams are also good. The proprietors also own Tsuki Akari Cafe on the same street where they hold various events for locals and visitors such as a Hinamatsuri festival in March for girls day and Otsukimi, a moon viewing event in September. Ajinokura: A Japanese cuisine restaurant offering sashimi and tempura fries with fresh fish and vegetables.
If you’re short on time, head to local restaurants near Saigo Port which offer reliable and high quality foods. “Champon” noodle is famous in Nagasaki Prefecture, but you can enjoy “Champon” noodles on Oki Islands. “Champon” means mixing various things in English, so on top of the noodles there is a variety of seafood and vegetable ingredients. Sazae Curry, turban shell curry is also popular for locals and visitors. On Oki Islands, islanders cook Sazae turban shells as curry ingredients due to their easy availability.
Ajitomi: If you want to change up and enjoy Oki Beef at a reasonable price, Ajitomi, a Korean barbecue restaurant is located on the way to Fukuura Port from Saigo Port. We had dinner here after enjoying a sunset cruise. Sasaki Family House: If you are a culture buff, here’s a place for the artsy folk. A 19th-century cedar bark roofed house, Sasaki Family House, was built in 1836 for an official in the village. It has three entrances for nobles, guests and family members and a doma earth floor kitchen with simple interior design. It is open from March to November (9:00-17:00) and it’s just a short 15-minute drive to visit Sasaki Family House on the way to Chichi-sugi from Saigo Port.
Where to stay
Ishiduka Ryokan Inn: Dogo Island is the largest island of the Oki group, so there is plenty of accommodation on offer. For our time we checked in to a comfortable Ryokan Inn, Ishiduka Ryokan. This Ryokan was ideally located a 5-10 minute walk from Saigo Port and thus far enough away from the busy town. You can enjoy the latest modern facility of the reception, bathroom and clean linens.
Because of the Obon season in the middle of August, locals spent time with their family, so we didn’t have a chance to have dinner at Ishiduka Ryokan, but instead we had a hosted breakfast. We ate out at an Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) restaurant near the Yao riverside.