Speaking of the Seto Inland Sea, what will pop into most people’s minds is probably the Setouchi Triennale (瀬戸内国際芸術祭). In addition to the event’s main stage, Naoshima Island, there are a couple more islands where the contemporary art festival is held, and Ogijima (男木島) is one of them. But Ogijima isn’t all about the artwork. Another charm of this small island is the numerous feline residents!
One thing to keep in mind is that cats on Ogijima have their territory. Although Ogijima has around 200 cats, most reside in just a few spots on the island, which we will introduce to you below.
In addition, in this article, we have included a couple of attractions you might want to stop by on this small island with a circumference of around 5 km.
How to Get to Ogijima
Compared to many other Cat Islands in Japan, getting to Ogijima is simple.
The ferries depart for Ogijima from Takamatsu Port (高松港), just a 7-minute walk from JR Takamatsu Station (高松駅). From there, it will just be a 40-minute boat ride!
For the service’s timetable, please refer to the official website HERE and select EN for English at the top of the web page. The ferry fare is below.
- Junior high school students and above: 510 yen
- Elementary school students: 260 yen
- Junior high school students and above: 1,020yen
- Elementary school students: 520 yen
Tip: If you are visiting Ogijima from Osaka or Kobe, consider purchasing the Ogijima ・Megijima Transportation Pass (男木島・女木島れんらく周遊きっぷ) to save. The pass allows you to visit Ogijima and Megijima Islands by either bus or ferry. For more information, please translate the official website HERE by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
Important: Kagawa Prefecture is known as the Udon Noodle Prefecture. So, when you visit Ogijima, you might want to enjoy the Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん) in one of the restaurants in Takamatsu City. If that is your plan, have the udon as breakfast before heading to Ogijima because many of the udon restaurants close by lunchtime (some open as early as 5 pm).
The Best Time to Visit Ogijima and the Required Time on the Island
Just like us, cats don’t like to be under the sun on a hot day. So, it is best to visit Ogijima in the cooler season. Also, the middle of winter will be too cold for the cats to come out, so try to avoid December to February.
Regarding how long most people spend on the island, 3 hours is a good estimate. But if you want to have lunch or spend more time with the cats, allow yourself around half a day.
About Ogijima Island
- Some restaurants don’t have a toilet facility attached. You will have to use the public toilet.
- The public toilets and vending machines on Ogijima are located at
- Ogijima Hall close to Ogijima Port
- The fishing port at Ogijima’s south (on the way to the Walking Ark)
- Ogijima Lighthouse
- On the ferry to Ogijima
- There is no convenience store in Ogijima.
- Some shops and restaurants only open on weekends and public holidays.
- Feeding the cats is forbidden on Ogijima for their health.
Tip: The cherry blossom season on Ogijima is from late March to early April.
Things You Might Want to Bring for Your Trip to Ogijima
- Enough water/fluid
- Disinfecting wipes to clean your hands before eating and after playing with cats
- Cats’ toys, if desired
- Picnic sheet
- Umbrella (for some shade and in case it rains)
Ogijima Hall (男木交流館)
After you get off the ferry, the artistic white building, Ogijima Hall, will catch your attention. It is the artwork of the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa who designed the building for the first Setouchi Triennale in 2010.
The building that has a white roof is imaging a seashell that was named ‘Ogijima’s Soul’ (男木島の魂). Looking closely, the ceiling is formed by numerous alphabets in eight languages!
Currently, it is used as a ferry waiting room where you can purchase your return ferry ticket and souvenirs. Light meals are also served in Ogijima Hall but aren’t vegetarian.
- Ogijima Hall/Ogijima’s Soul is open from 6:30 am to 5 pm.
The Approach to Toyotamahime Shrine (豊玉姫神社)
The first spot on Ogijima where many cats linger is the approach from the torii gate close to Ogijima Port (男木港) to Toyotamahime Shrine. While the alley is narrow, it is the main street and one of the island’s busiest roads.
Knowing this fact, the hungry felines will wait for the tourists’ arrival at the sides of the alley. If your eyes meet with one of them, the cat will most likely start approaching you!
The cats around this area are usually extremely friendly, and many will start rubbing themselves against you as soon as you stop walking. They would even allow you to pick them up! So if you are seeking a place to heal your tired mind from the daily hustle and bustle, spend as long as you wish at the roadside here and let the cats’ cuteness melt your heart!
Toyotamahime Shrine (豊玉姫神社)
Situated on the high ground of Ogijima, the Toyotamahime Shrine is the best place to overlook the island.
Toyotamahime, who is enshrined here, is the god of safe delivery. The sacred sake from the shrine is said to have the power to ensure smooth labor. As she is a god from the sea, remember to greet her properly and pray for a safe and pleasant trip!
The Story of Toyotamahime
According to Japanese mythology, Toyotamahime was a fine lady living on Ogijima. One day, a guy named Yamasachibiko (山幸彦) arrived on the island and met Toyotamahime. The two fell in love, and Toyotamahime became pregnant. Before she gave birth, she told Yamasachibiko that he mustn’t peep into the room during her labor. But Yamasachibiko broke his promise and saw that Toyotamahime was actually a shark. Feeling embarrassed, Toyotamahime left her baby boy and returned to the sea.
It is said that the boy’s grandson became Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇) in 660 BC.
Onba Factory (オンバ・ファクトリー)
Climbing up to the Toyotamahime Shrine for a panoramic view of Ogijima and the Seto Inland Sea can be tiring. So on the way back down, how about taking a rest at Onba Factory?
Renovated from an old house, the cafe with an art workshop offers an awesome atmosphere and a great sea view. Sitting at the outdoor counter is the best when the weather isn’t too hot or cold!
Ogijima Alley Mural Project – wallalley (男木島 路地壁画プロジェクト wallalley)
With many private residences constructed on the hilly terrain, the townscape of Ogijima is like a maze.
Close to Onba Factory, the exterior of the houses become a lot more colorful. The murals are completed with waste materials and scrapped ships are the artwork of the Japanese artist Makabe Rikuji (眞壁陸二). While it is pretty hard to tell for us amateurs, what Rikuji was trying to paint is the silhouette of landscapes.
Why is it called wallalley? The word was created by combining “wall” and “alley”, perfectly describing the mural’s location.
Walking Ark (歩く方舟)
Another place where cats gather is around the fishing port southeast of Ogijima Port. Contrasting the cats on the main street, the cats here have their little circles. Many travels in flocks and/or rest leisurely in the shade.
Walking further east, you will encounter Ogijima’s representative artwork, Walking Ark.
Interestingly, the boat’s shape looks more like an iceberg than a ship to us…
The legs growing out from the bottom of the Ark clearly conveys that there is no limit in the world of contemporary art.
What the artist, Yamaguchi Keisuke (山口 啓介), is trying to illustrate is the mountains that blend in with the scenery of Setouchi are charged with full power moving across the sea. Another thing to note about the statue is the direction that it is heading. By having the dynamic mountains walking toward Fukushima (福島), the artwork was made in the hope that the prefecture won’t suffer from further disasters after the Tōhoku earthquake in 2011.
Dorima no Ue (ドリマの上)
If you want to have lunch or a place to go for morning or afternoon tea on Ogijimna, reserve with Dorima no Ue, a BnB that provides dine-in options as long as you make a reservation.
The owner advocates an organic lifestyle in that all ingredients of the dishes are organic and mostly homemade. By looking at the photo, you might think the volume is small. But you will realize after eating that it is more than enough!
The secret? According to the owner, it is the nutrition contained in the ingredients. The meal made from various herbs and naturally grown vegetables is rich in vitamins and minerals. The best thing is the calories are half of what a meal from a normal restaurant would contain.
The current cost of dining at Dorima no Ue is below.
- Breakfast: 1,000 yen
- Lunch: 1,800 yen
- Extra 200 yen for dessert
- Dinner: 3,000 yen
- Dessert on itself: 400 – 800 yen
Tip: Remember to let them know your special diet requirements when you make a booking.
Furthermore, Dorima no Ue is the perfect place to experience the Japanese lifestyle of the good old days.
You will stay in the house built more than 110 years ago with the compost toilet in the annex. The wood-fired bath is another rare experience that you can get at Dorima no Ue!
The one-night stay at Dorima no Ue comes with an activity. On their webpage HERE, there is a range of activities that you can choose from, such as mochi rice cake making. Please use Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar to read.
☛ It is not an accommodation facility for those who love modern convenience, such as an air conditioner. Instead of shampoo, a shampoo bar is provided. Also, keep in mind there might be bugs coming into the house.
☛ A reservation is essential if you want to dine or stay at Dorima no Ue. You can contact them via their website HERE (please scroll down to the end of the webpage).
Jii’s Cave (ジイの穴)
Towards the top of the mountain of Ogijima, there is a cave called Jii’s Cave.
The Megijima (女木島), close to Ogijima, is also known as the demon’s island in Japanese folklore Momotarō (桃太郎). It is said that when Momotarō went to defeat the demons on Megijima, the demon escaped to Ogijima and hid inside this cave.
At the far back of the cave, there is a spring gushing out. The island’s legend has it that drinking it will make you immortal.
Putting the myth aside, apparently, more water will be gushing out during low tide and less water during high tide.
In the past, the residents sourced the water from the spring to make coffee and tea. But the cave will most likely be closed when you get there as the structure has become unstable.
Ogijima Lighthouse (男木島灯台)
At the northmost point of Ogijima, around a 30-minute walk from Ogijima Port, there is a lighthouse. The lighthouse completed in 1895 was chosen to be one of the best lighthouses in Japan, and a Japanese movie was filmed here in 1957.
Next to the lighthouse is a small beach with crystal clear water, perfect for chilling out in the hot summer.
Explore the promenade leading into the forest from late January to early March. There will be more than one million Narcissus flowers blooming across the field!
Takamatsu Harbor Tamamo Pier Lighthouse (高松港玉藻防波堤灯台)
If the sky is dark when you return to Takamatsu Port, look out for the symbol of Takamatsu Port, the lighthouse that glows in scarlet color at night.
Takamatsu Harbor Tamamo Pier Lighthouse is the first glass lighthouse in the world. The body of this 14-meter-tall architecture consists of 1,600 pieces of glass in red.
Discover Other Cat Islands in Japan
Ogijima Island isn’t the only island in Japan known as cat island. Such kind of islands is actually scattered across the country.
To find out about other cat islands in Japan, refer to our article on the Top 10 Cat Islands in Japan!
The Rabbit Island in Japan
In addition to all the cat islands, Japan also has a rabbit island!
If you are interested, find out more information about this island with our article on Ōkunoshima, filled with a massive rabbit population!