Japan // Shikoku //

Shodo-shima

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It may not have quite the same idyllic appeal as its smaller Inland Sea neighbour Naoshima, but thanks to its splendid natural scenery and a collection of worthwhile sights Shōdo-shima (小豆島) should still be high on any list of places to visit in Shikoku. The mountainous, forested island styles itself as a Mediterranean retreat, and has a whitewashed windmill and mock-Grecian ruins strategically placed in its terraced olive groves. But native culture also gets a look-in, since Shōdo-shima – which translates as “island of small beans” – promotes its own version of Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage and its connection with the classic Japanese book and film Nijūshi-no-Hitomi (24 Eyes). This tear-jerking tale of a teacher and her twelve young charges, set on Shōdo-shima between the 1920s and 1950s, was written by local author Tsuboi Sakae. A trip to the island also offers a rare opportunity to visit a centuries-old soy sauce factory (see Naoshima), where traditional methods are still employed.