Kii Oshima Island: Kansai’s Southernmost Island

 Just off the tip of the Kii Peninsula, near the small town of Kushimoto is Kii Oshima Island, the southernmost point of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Nestled in the blue ocean, this island isn’t exactly a huge tourist destination. Yet because it is largely ignored, Kii Oshima has some pristine rocky coasts and is incredibly scenic.  While we didn’t know almost anything about this island before we set out on this journey, we were amazed to discover it’s beauty!  

※A trail map of Kii Oshima Island can be downloaded here. The trail crosses the entire island.  

 

About Kii Oshima

Seen from at a distance, the island doesn’t look very big at all. In fact Kii Oshima is bigger than you might imagine. You can walk to the island from Kushimoto Station in Kushimoto, Wakayama. If you look at this on Google Maps, you might think it is entirely too far to walk all the way to the island, but it’s really not as far as it seems. If you’d prefer there is a bus that goes between these two points, but service is very limited. 

View of Kii Oshima
Kii Oshima. I guess we picked the perfect day to explore.

You have to cross the big bridge to the island and don’t worry there is a sidewalk so it is safe to walk. 

This bridge connects the island to the mainland.

It is also probably important to mention that there are no convenience store on the island! Make sure to buy snacks and drinks beforehand! 

The bridge is quite tall.
Bridge to Kii Oshima
Almost to Kii Oshima!

After crossing the bridge, there is a little park. The view of the ocean from the park is very pretty. The cape you can see from here (on right) is the at the tip of the island. We are going to walk from the west tip of the island to the north tip, Kashinozaki. 

Hiking Kii Oshima

Oshima

Upon arriving on Kii Oshima Island, walk along the route 40 just for a few minutes and go down the stairs. This leads to the main community of Kii Oshima Island, Oshima. These stairs may not appear on your map app, so be careful not to miss it! 

Walk down the little stairs.
It seems they are farming fish here. The well known Kindai University farm-raised tuna are also farmed in Kii Oshima Island.
Oshima Port at Kii Oshima
Oshima Port

In Oshima, there is a little temple called Rensho-ji Temple. It seems thats this is the only temple in this island. The temple is famous for being the tutelary temple of the famous geisha, Oyuki of Kii Oshima. Surprisingly, there was even a geisha district on Kii Oshima.

Rensho-ji Temple on Kii Oshima
Rensho-ji Temple. You can see the statue of Oyuki on right

Once you leave Oshima walk along this road heading east.

Walk along this highway
Such beautiful blue water!

Observation Deck

After a while, you will see there is a small path to the observation deck in front of the Kanayama Tozanguchi [金山登山口] bus stop. It is only 30 minutes to and from the observation deck, and we really recommend going. From the observation deck you can see the Hashigui Iwa Rocks. When we went to Kushimoto, it was impossible to see all the rocks because the line of rocks is too long.  Here though, you can see all the rocks forming a nice line across the ocean. This is probably the only place you can see all of the Hashigui Iwa Rocks. 

The trail into the mountains starts at this bus stop.

Hashiguiiwa Rocks at Kii Oshima
You can see all the Hashiguiiwa Rocks from the observation deck!

Once you rejoin the main trail, it will eventually merge with Route 40. The trail will continue along Route 40, so just keep walking down the highway. Despite being quite a small island, there is a decent amount of traffic because there is a JASDF air base on the island. 

Walk along Route 40

At this point the map will instruct you to turn right at the Resort Oshima Camp Site. The camp site is private property, so don’t just wander around.  

Turn right here.
Resort Oshima on Kii Oshima
Resort Oshima. This is private property! We were only able to walk through because we asked permission first.

Kii Oshima Coast 

After you pass the camp site and go through a small forest, you will reach the beautiful coast of Kii Oshima!!

Kii Oshima Coastline
Kii Oshima Coastline
There are so many wild flowers here!
Wild radish flowers

The trail is a bit complicate from here. After you enjoy a pleasant stroll along the coast, you will reach a small parking lot. Head towards the very back of the parking lot and you will find some stone stairs; follow them. 

Go up this stairs! it was so hard to find!!

Japan-U.S Friendship Memorial Museum

Once you reach the top of these stone steps you will be at the Japan-U.S Friendship Memorial Museum. “An odd place for this kind of museum?” You might be thinking. Actually, Kii Oshima well known for the Turkish ship, Ertuğrul , but it is also where American ship, the Lady Washington, made shore in 1791. The ship came all the way to Japan to sell fur, but as soon as they found out their furs had no value in Japan, they promptly returned home. Thought this seemingly unimportant event is not widely known, this was the very first American ship to come to Japan.

Japan-U.S Friendship Memorial Museum on Kii Oshima
I wonder how many Americans actually visit this museum…

Umi Kongo and the Kashinozaki Lighthouse

Right around the museum is the most scenic area of Kii Oshima, Umikongo. The name Umi Kongo is supposed to be a reference to Geoje Heageumgang in Korea, which many believe has similar rock formation. From here, you can also see the Kashinozaki Lighthouse.  Just beneath the lighthouse is the site where Turkish ship, the Ertuğrul, ran aground in a storm. The Turkish survivors scaled these massive cliff-sides and begged the local Japanese community for aid. The survivors of the Ertuğrul received so much kindness that this one event remains one of the most prominent reasons for the warm Turk and Japanese relations. 

Umi Kongo of Kii Oshima
Beautiful Umi Kongo. Can you spot the Kashinozaki Lighthouse far in the back?

 From the museum to Kashinozaki is roughly a 30 minute walk. Along the road, there were several farm stands selling kumquats. We didn’t buy them, but on second thought it might have been a nice idea, since kumquats a famous product on Kii Oshima Island.

Residential area of the island
Almost to Kashinozaki!

At last we’ve reached Kashinozaki. It took almost 4 hours to cross the entire island! It was comfortable walk. Don’t forget to check Kashinozaki Lighthouse!

Kashinozaki Lighthouse on Kii Oshima
Kashinozaki Lighthouse

Kii Oshima Island was a surprise in itself. This was one of those instances where we didn’t know what exactly to expect, yet ended up pleasantly surprised with what we found. Of course, there isn’t much here apart from hiking, and getting here takes some time as well. Still, if you are going to have an extended stay in the Kansai region, a trip here will certainly be a change of pace. 

Inforamtion: Kii Oshima

Route Map

Our Route (open google map)

 

Website

Map is available from 

 

Getting To

The closest station to Kii Oshima is Kushimoto Station of  JR Kinokuni (Kisei) Line. It takes three hours from Osaka by limited express Kuroshio. 

 

Hours

N/A

 

Admission

 

 

Note

 

 

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