Slow down in Itoshima
Beach Cafés and Unforgettable Sunsets
At the westernmost part of Fukuoka Prefecture is a small piece of coast where time slows down. The Itoshima Peninsula is Fukuoka's little secret. It rewards those who discover it with beautiful beaches, exquisite food and peaceful sunsets. Here relaxation takes over people's everyday problems.
Your journey starts from Chikuzen-Maebaru Station, where you can choose how to explore the coast. The slower pace of Itoshima is enhanced by the absence of trains, so take your pick between bus, rental car, taxi, or bicycle.
Start exploring the coast and you'll come across a multitude of views. Fishermen huts, inviting sandy beaches, and rocky formations all create a charming landscape. Find your favorite spot and your own little piece of paradise.
Beaches are lined with small and hip cafés, often run by young people who have found their perfect place away from the rigors of Japanese society.
Grab a snack and sit by the beach. Take in the view. Enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of the simple wooden tables lined up by the beach and smell the fresh sea breeze.
During the winter time, rows of temporary restaurants pop up by the shore next to the fishing ports. These are called kakigoya (oyster huts).
Delicious oysters are sold by the kilogram, and patrons grill them at their own table. The huts also serve other freshly caught seafood.
In a lively atmosphere, sit around the grill and enjoy a beer or two while the hot coals warm you up. Needless to say, the oysters are extremely fresh and taste so good that you can eat them without any condiment.
You don't have to look far to see where the oysters come from. Right behind the oyster huts, local fishermen chat the day away while sorting out the shellfish.
The simple life, the smiles of the locals. Being immersed in all this makes you want to stay here longer, to savor this lifestyle and become part of it.
Once your stomach is full, venture a little away from the sea and pay a visit to Sakurai Shrine. Established in 1632, this ancient Shinto shrine is immersed in a silent forest. Dusty and old in a grandiose way, it feels like it's there to protect the tranquility of Itoshima.
The silence is only interrupted by the sounds of the forest, and occasionally by dreamy ceremonial music played by the priest.
As the sunset draws closer, head to Futamigaura Bay, where the sun sinking below the horizon is a beautiful show.
Here are the meotoiwa, the “wedded rocks" tied together by a Shinto rope. In front of them is a white torii gate that marks the entrance to Sakurai Shrine. People start gathering here before sunset to watch the beach turn orange. You'll see them getting their cameras ready or simply holding their loved one's hand.
This little hidden paradise is a treat for travelers who are after a different and authentic experience. After witnessing the magic of Itoshima, you're sure to return to the fast-paced world with a more peaceful soul and a great story to share.