When you talk about Okinoshima (Oki Islands), please be careful that there is another one in Fukuoka which is uninhabited one and cannot be visited because of its holiness. But this Okinoshima in Shimane Prefecture is inhabited and attractive islands for the tourists by its beautiful scenery and interesting history.
Formation of Okinoshima
Okinoshima once was a part of Eurasian Continent. About 5 million years ago, there were volcanic activities which made part of the island caldera.
During the ice age of 20,000 years ago, the water level is 130 meters lower than now, so the islands were connected to Shimane Peninsula. The distance between Shimane and Okinoshima is about 50 km, but the depth of the ocean is only 70 meters.
Okinoshima consists of two parts, Dozen (front island) and Dogo (back island). Dogo is the biggest island among 180 islands of Okinoshima and the population is about 15,000. But Dozen, especially Nishinoshima Island which has only about 3,400 inhabitants attracts more tourists because of its natural beauty and interesting history.
Attraction of Nishinoshima Island
The dynamic 257-meter high cliff is a must see place. Walk along the clifftop amongst the grazing cows and horses admiring the views of the inner sea and the outer coastline. If you are adventurous, you can follow the hiking trail down to the bottom of the coast. It takes 60 to 90 minutes one way.
Tsutnkyo Arch at Kuniga Coast
This impressive rock arch has been carved by the power of the wind and waves over time. This is a great place to explore the rocky coast, have a picnic or an afternoon nap. You can hike up to Matengai Cliff from here. It takes 60 to 90 minutes one way.
Enjoy amazing views of the stunning Kuniga Coast from this lookout. Cows and horses graze in the fields nearby. This is a great place for taking photos, having a picnic or watching the sunset.
Kuroki Gosho Imperial Residence Site
Historical documents state that Emperor Godaigo was exiled to the Oki Islands in 1332. Some say it was to here, Kuroki. Walk around the area and discover where the Emperor lived. Visit the museum and learn more about the exile and history in Nishinoshima.
This was once one of the highest ranked shrines in Shimane or even in Japan. It is dedicated to the deity of fishing and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Because of this deity, it used to be the catching site of squid. Tons of squid gather to the beach in front of the shrine every year and people could catch them easily. If you look for carvings in the precinct, you may find the hidden squids.
Access: 50 minutes ride on the bus from Yonago Station (JR Line) to Daisenji (大山寺) stop