Megijima (女木島) is a small island just off the port of Takamatsu, less than four kilometers long and one kilometer wide. Reached in a short ferry ride from Takamatsu, the island is home to about 140 people and besides two small villages and some fields consists mostly of forested mountains.
Megijima is associated with Onigashima, the Ogre Island from the popular Momotaro legend in which a small boy visited the island in order to fight its resident ogres. Indeed, a cave is found near Megijima's highest peak, which is said to have once served as the ogres' fortress. Visitors to the cave will find a series of interconnected chambers, some of which display large cartoon ogre statues depicting scenes from the Momotaro story.
A few steps from the cave is a mountaintop park with an observation deck, offering a 360 degree view of the Seto Inland Sea and the surrounding islands. Hundreds of cherry trees turn the park into a pleasant cherry blossom spot each spring, usually around early April. On the mountain peak opposite the observation deck stands a large statue of Nichiren, the founder of the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is possible to walk up to the statue along a paved trail.
Megijima's atmospheric village of old wooden houses and narrow lanes is located around the ferry terminal and is protected towards the sea by high stone walls. During the summer months, the island attracts urbanites with its sand beach, which is located not far from the ferry port and is lined by multiple minshuku.
The ferry terminal is one of the more modern buildings on the island and provides tourists with an information desk, bicycle rentals and snacks. The terminal also houses a small exhibition space about the ogres from the Momotaro story.
Megijima is one of the venues of the Setouchi Triennale art festival and features several artwork-turned homes and a few other art pieces on permanent display. Additional artworks are on display during the art festivals. Most of the art pieces are closed on weekdays and during winter outside of the art festival.
Getting to Megijima Island
Getting around Megijima Island
Although Megijima is small, some people will find it just a little bit too large and its mountain a little bit too high to be explored on foot. For these people, a bus connects the ferry terminal and the cave in about ten minutes and for 300 yen one way. Bus departures are timed to the ferry arrivals. Walking up the mountain to the cave takes about 30-45 minutes.
Alternatively, bicycles are an attractive way to get around the island. They can be rented from the ferry port for 600 to 1000 yen. A mountain bike or electric assist bike is recommended for accessing the cave as the road up the mountain is rather steep.