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Nii Ōshima Island

A small island off Niihama, said to be the first home of the Murakami Suigun.

Nii Ōshima Island

Nii Ōshima is an island just off the coast from Niihama. It has a circumference of about 9.8 km kilometers and a population of about 200 people, half of whom are over 70. The main industries of the island are shrimp aquaculture, as well as production of tangerines and a unique white sweet potato which is used for making shōchū spirit.

A car ferry leaves from Kuroshima Port in Niihama City. There’s about one per hour, and the price is 120 yen for a round trip. It takes 15 minutes to get to the island. The ferry docks in a small town on the southern shore. There’s no public transportation on the island, but roads go around the island.

The town consists mostly of traditional Japanese buildings, including several attractive temples. There are no shops or restaurants on the island, but you can buy delicious Swiss-style bread at Jack’s Bakery. If you plan to do this, we recommend purchasing some cheese or ham and maybe some wine before crossing over to the island. You won’t regret it.

The northern part of Ōshima is covered with dense forest with many cliffs. Patrol ships are said to have hidden among the cliffs and sallied out to intercept passing ships in the Middle Ages. If you follow the road round to the east, you soon come to a farm run by Jacques of the bakery, where you can see ponies, geese, and a pig or two. The northwest is dotted with the ruins of small holiday villas.

To the west of the town is a castle, said to have been built by Murakami Yoshihiro during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. However, a sign at the site of the inner ring of the castle itself states that excavations showed it dated from the 1500s. Murakami Yoshihiro was the ancestor of the Murakami Suigun, a maritime clan that dominated the Inland Sea from the islands that form the Shimanami Kaido. Yoshihiro’s father was born on Ōshima. Yoshihiro is thought to have died in 1340. Around 1586, the Higashi clan, a vassal of the Murakami, occupied Ōshima. Signs indicate the various rings of the defences, which can barely be made out. There are no buildings or foundations of the castle remaining.

Bicycles can be hired on the island, but if you want to enjoy cycling round the island, it’s best to take a bike hired elsewhere. You can also kayak around the perimeter of the island.

Information

Name in Japanese: 新居大島

Pronunciation: nii ōshima

Address: Oshima, Niihama, Ehime 792-0891

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