Shinojima ~ The Island of Onbe-dai & Torafugu

Here is respite to brilliant islands maintaining a rich history while weathering an uncertain future. Taste the source fresh seafood delicacies as they have been shared for millennia. Even an epic princess declared only the sea bream caught in these waters fit for the tribute the shrine of Amaterasu.

The Island of Onbe-dai & Torafugu


Escape the conrete jungle to catch stunning views, Whute-sand beaches and source fresh seafood

This year Tokyo Olympics 2020 has Japan pulling out all the stops. Your opportunity for dream tour at budget rates may be now. Two small islands in the south of Aichi prefecture are the ultimate gold medal score. The islands of Shinojima and Himakajima are part of this prefecture’s scenic quasi-national park. Senyum Press spent a weekend hopping between these two fantastic destinations. This issue focuses on Shinojima, while our next on Himakajima. Experience authentic Japan in a potently condensed getaway. We hope you make the time to explore these islands and all of Aichi for yourself.


Few regions host a bounty this rich within a few kilometers. From the
moment your ferry launches to arrival at Shinojima Island, magnificent
Mikawa Bay envelopes you in poetic beauty. Upon arrival, plunge into a
refreshing drink inside the center housing the tourist office, ferry ticket
counter, an informative exhibition about the island past to present, pick
up select local specialties as souvenirs and even rent a bicycle. At just
shy of 1 square kilometer you can just as easily stroll, but it is fun to feel
ocean air as you pedal through the mellow island streets.

Offshore views are of magical stones jutting out of the ocean and
numerous reefs. Inland, housing is concentrated in one main area,
but there is an organic assortment of restaurants, shrines, shops,
guesthouses and of course fishing vessels typical of the island. We
recommend you jump into the deep end, book a ryokan and stay
overnight. Allow yourself the chance to bask in the magnificence of a
Shinojima sunset. Opt to include a kaiseki meal in your stay. This is a
true celebration of the subtleties of a Japanese food performance.

Seeking some all hands on deck action? Try fishing with a jibiki-ami net,
catching octopus, boating, surfing and more depending on the season.
Shinojima also has deep historical ties to one of Japan’s most sacred
and important shrines, nearby Mie Prefecture’s Ise Grand Shrine. Today
many still make sure to visit this island’s grand Shinmei Shrine.


A stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan, like ours at Shinojima Kanko
Hotel Osumi, usually includes Japan’s haute cuisine, kaiseki. It’s
an experience akin to a customized opera, concerto or painting if
those were a traditional multi-course meal. This meal that began
as a simple seasonal and meditative accompaniment to tea for
monks spread its wings yet remained true to its origins when served
to royalty and nobility. Today chefs play a game of gourmet chess,
flexing their mastery of the rules to deftly craft a cherished win.

As a general rule, the foundation is grilled fish, soup and a rice
dish. While this may seem limiting, the chef composes beyond
food. Open yourself to notice the poetic detail that includes even
the tableware of each serving. In Shinojima, expect your curated
seasonal ingredient multi-course meal to include much of the local
treasures like tako (octopus), fugu (pufferfish), ise-ebi (lobster), tai
(sea bream) and only the freshest seafood imaginable.

Shinojima Beach

A handful of steps from port is “Divine Wind Beach,” referred to as ‘Naiba'(front beach) by locals. Tickle your toes in an elegant walk along the arcing white sand beach about 800 meters in length. Renowned as the cleanest beach in the prefecture, the shallow gentle waters are perfect for families to take a dip with their kids or relax with a bento picnic. If you seek more seclusion, there are cute cosy beaches dotting the island perimeter.

A deeper Connection

Besides being a rich source of physical and spirtual sustenance to residents since at least the Jōmon period, Shinojima has been contributing to Japan in big ways. This includes actually supplying pieces of their island to build mainland castles as well as take precious food off their plate to pay tributes.

Some 67km away sits Nagoya Castle. The walls are supported by granite hewn from this island during Edo times.More significant still may be the powerful bond between Japan’s most sacred shrine, Ise Grand Shrines and Shinojima’s Shinmei Jinja shrine. The origins of which begin about 2000 years ago with a decree from Japan’s 11th Emperor, the legendary Suinin.

The short and sweet story is that Emperor Suiin commanded his daughter to find the perfect location for the dedication to the Sun
Goddess herself, Amaterasu. Named Ise, it’s believed to hold the Sacred
Mirror, one of three special gifts of the gods to Japan’s first Emperor.
Edo times (1603-1867) had travel strictly regulated, reserved to those
that could source a royal Tokugawa shogunate decree. Many used theirs
to pay respects to the Ise Grand Shrines. That’s right, ‘shrines,’ because
it’s actually a complex of 125 Shinto shrines. After Ise, a pilgrim’s journey
was incomplete until crossing Ise Bay by boat to arrive at Shinmei Jinja
shrine. The legend goes further as that same princess, Yamatohime no
Mikoto, tasted sea bream caught around Shinojima and decreed it the
only worthy source for Ise Grand Shrine’s tribute. For 1000 over years
now, 508 hand-selected sea bream are laboriously collected and offered
three times yearly by local fishermen. Today members of Shinojima’s
fishery cooperative association hold down the princess’ wish.

Is this why every 20 years Shinmei Shrine receives the dismantled solid
cypress wood shrine from Ise’s Shikinen Sengū process? As part of the
renewal process, connected to Shinto’s belief of death and renewal,
nothing goes to waste. So much underlines a powerful connection to
this beautiful island.

Shinojima Kanko Hotel Osumi
101 Doyama, Minamichita-cho, Chita-gun 470-3505 Aichi Prefecture


With 28 guest rooms both modern and traditional, Shinojima Kanko Hotel Osumi is an ideal ryokan. Put on a yukata and prepare to heal your weary soul. Rinse off the urban vibes in the traditional bathhouse. After your delicious kaiseki meal, walk uphill behind the hotel to catch the amazing sunset.