Oct. 26th. 2022,
The lowest car park, on the opposite side of the road from michi no eki Shodoshima olive park, is dark and quiet. A very dark night. I noted two shooting stars in quick succession.
Shodoshima Olive Park
We start the day at the michi no eki, up on the hill above. Here, there is a shop selling olive produce and an exhibition concerning the struggle to start olive production and, of course, olive ice cream. This proves to be little different from vanilla except for its light green colouring.
As we wander the olive groves, thick with olives we watch other people take photos of each other jumping into the air astride the Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service) broom sticks which can be borrowed free for the purpose. Many of these jumps take place in front of the Greek style windmill that does not turn.
There is also a piano under the olive trees, set up by NHK for the series where random people sit down and tickle the ivories. As there was no camera in attendance, so no one was playing.
A very pleasant wander with sea views.
The Setouchi International Art Triennale
From the Olive Park, we start to follow the art trail in earnest. We drive steadily around the island stopping to note the various artworks on display.
It is the Triennale Art Festival of the Setouchi, a contemporary art festival started in 2010 on islands in Seto inland sea and cities in Kagawa and Okayama prefectures. Spring, summer and autumn session are held every three years. Some of art works remain after the Triennale ends and become permanent features.
First, we look around Mito peninsula area, here there are 9 exhibits. For me, most of the work seen on this first day is best forgotten but some pieces were interesting or impressive. Hermit Crab, (large and having expropriated a small house), Daidaraurutorabou, (a huge, seated figure contemplating the sea) and Shiomimi-so or Song of the Tides. This exhibit was an ear trumpet to the waves and an altogether interesting structure.
Trying to find the artworks dotted around the island is like treasure-hunt. The discovery, though, is not necessarily rewarding. I leave six works unmentioned.
This sentiment remained as we searched for exhibits around the Sakate port area. The Regent in Olives or The Star Anger did not move us. Other people, however, seemed happy to put on a regent wig and snap one for Instagram.
Circumnavigating the island, we find the east side virtually uninhabited. The steep, wooded hillsides drop into the sea. The road is narrow and overgrown with few passing places but little to no traffic.
Reaching habitation, we look around the Fukuda area for some art. It is here we find the Fukita Pavilion. An installation of large sheets of metal, one above the other, encircled and encircling trees. Strangely intriguing.
Although I am not enthusiastic about some of the work on display, this festival is an ideal incentive to visit this interesting island. After all, most people do not share my jaundiced outlook.
Further on, fortunately, we discover michi no eki Osakajo Zanseki Kinen Koen. (Osaka Castle Memorial Stones Commemorative Plaza). This is a small michi no eki but, as a spot for an overnight, it appears far better than either of the others.
When the Tokugawa shogun decided to expand and repair Osaka Castle in the 1620’s, early in the Edo era, huge rocks were quarried in this part of the island and shipped out from this port. The evidence is all around in the remaining stones. These, the unlucky ones, commemorated in the michi no eki.
The michi no eki has a small museum dedicated to stone quarrying.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.