Moooo! Bar Shiraishi Island, Japan

Shiraishi Island Facts

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"Shiraishi was the highlight of my three weeks in Japan."

Sander, the Netherlands

Welcome to Shiraishi, one of 250 inhabited islands in Japan's fabled Seto Inland Sea. Shiraishi is part of the Setonaikai National Park. The population of 438 has long followed a tradition of fishing and living off the land.

Though Shiraishi is known best to foreigners for its clear waters and clean beaches, the Japanese people know the island for the Shiraishi Bon Dance. The "Shiraishi Odori" is an 800-year old tradition still performed during the Festival of the Dead (Obon) every August to comfort the souls of the Heike warriors who perished in the famous sea battle against the Genji in 1185. Such tradition attests to the spirit of the islanders and their determination to continue a lifestyle deeply rooted in ancient rituals and tradition. The islanders are the most extraordinary people, the closest to nature and the closest to God that I have ever met.

Shiraishi Island is a place where one can enjoy the beach for a day and hike in the mountains the next. Wander off on your own and you're likely to come upon one or more of the 88 Buddhist statues along the 400-year old pilgrimage route that follows the perimeter of the island. Wander a little further into the interior and you may come across a gathering of locals and witness ancient rituals still performed by the islanders to their Gods.

Despite the island's beauty, the real treasures are found only in the hearts of the island people.

Shiraishi is an island and people that remains blissfully undiscovered.

A few island facts:

There is no nightlife on Shiraishi other than San-chan's restaurant/Bar and the Moooo! Bar (open only in the summer). There is no town center. There are no traffic lights. There is no video store, convenience store or McDonald's. There is one road, 6 km long, that circles the island. Get the idea? Bring books or liquor.

There is no bank on the island, but there is a cash machine at the post office (open Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) and on Sat. 9 a.m.-12:00 noon) where you can get cash from your VISA/MasterCard. There is one grocery store (4 short aisles) that stocks Japanese food and is closed on Sundays. They also sell canned beer, Japanese sake and some cheap and nasty wine. Be careful, the grocery store closes at 6 p.m. so if you come on the last ferry of the day, you'll miss it.

Warning: Some Japanese people will tell you there is no food available on Shiraishi, so you must bring your own. What they mean is that there is no Western food available on the island. As long as you are willing to eat like a local, there is plenty of food here in the local supermarket. They also sell milk, bread, eggs, pasta, cheese, butter, etc. There is one restaurant, San-chan's, that is open in summer and a couple of other small food stalls  open in July and August. There is no need to bring your own food if: you'd rather eat out, or you don't mind shopping at the local supermarket. Also, there's a new Italian restaurant inside Otafuku Hotel, so you can give that a try for lunch or dinner.

Find your own private beach

Walk an ancient pilgrimage route

Observe ancient rituals

Follow a 400-year old Buddhist pilgrimage route

Moooo! Bar, Shiraishi Island, Japan