Shodoshima is sometimes referred to as "the Mediterranean of Japan", and for good reasons. This island has both olive plantations and pristine sandy beaches, not to mention a comfortable climate and a relaxed lifestyle.
Shodoshima is the second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea. It is located on the eastern edge of the ”Bisan Seto” region, in its turn the easternmost part of the Seto Inland Sea, which also encompasses the popular “art island” Naoshima as well as the biggest island of them all, Awajishima.
The circumference of the island is 126 kilometers, and most of the towns and villages on the island are scattered along its coastline. The central region of the island is mountainous and houses the scenic Kankakei gorge, ranked as one of the most beautiful ravines in Japan and a designated place of Scenic Beauty. The surrounding peaks reach as high as 816.7 meters.
Shodoshima’s most famous feature however, is the fact that it was the first place in Japan where olives were cultivated. This happened back in 1908, and the island is today the most prominent olive oil producer in the country. On some hills in the central area of the southern coast lies “Olive Park”. This is where the first olive plantations on the island were located. Today, Olive Park houses a souvenir shop and museum about olive production, and a striking replica of a traditional Greek Windmill. The peaceful atmosphere combined with the good views is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations on the island. Today, a plethora of olive related products are sold on the island, everything from olive flavored sweet drinks to ice cream and beauty products.
Another famous product from Shodoshima is soy sauce, which has been produced on the island for over 400 years. There are several big factories located on the island, some of which offer factory tours and tasting events.
Shodoshima has many beautiful beaches scattered around the island. According to some locals we talked to during our visit, the beaches would attract families from near and afar a couple of decades ago. Back then, the island used to be a popular holiday destination but unfortunately, these days most of the beaches are surprisingly quiet, and many of the businesses that used to be dependent on the tourists are now closed.
Around half a dozen ports are located on the island, connecting it with nearby islands, as well as major cities on both Shikoku and Honshu, such as Takamatsu, Kobe and Himeji. The biggest port is Tonosho, located in the southwestern part of the island.
Local transportation consists of a handful of bus lines, most of which runs along the more densely populated southern coast of the island. The northern parts of the island as well as its mountainous interior are not easily accessible by public transport, and rental car is recommended. There are also several places where you can rent a bicycle, most of them located by the major ports.