As the publishers of the Itoshima Now website, we enjoy introducing the unique parts of Itoshima to visitors who share the values and appreciation of long-time residents. Here are some scenes for two days of a trial full-day tour of Itoshima.
The tour began at 10 am at Chikuzen-Maebaru Station, about 40 minutes from Fukuoka’s center via the subway. We used a chartered van with a driver and limited the number of guests to just five each day; definitely not mass tourism.
Our first stop was God Rock (kamiishi), located less than 5 minutes into the woods and past a bamboo forest near the 572-year-old Kamiari Shrine. We didn’t tell the guest much about it in advance to avoid spoiling the surprise.
The discovery of this giant stone by the representative of the Kamiari Shrine in 2016 led to its enshrinement with ropes, which has since gained attention as an auspicious spot.
Our guests tried to catch some good luck and power through a simple ritual of clapping, stretching, and breathing in the fresh morning air.
Itoshima is a peninsula with several fishing ports scattered throughout. This time we visited Funakoshi, the largest of Itoshima’s fishing ports, on a sandbar surrounded by the sea on both sides.
Upon our arrival, we were delighted to see people in wetsuits diving for hijiki (a kind of seaweed). We later learned that one of the women was the wife of a fisherman and the owner of the oyster hut, where we would later have lunch. Meeting people and connecting with locals is always a pleasure in small towns.
In this same village, we also visited Kitai-Shouyu, which continues to make soy sauce using traditional methods. This soy sauce brewery, founded in 1897, uses cedar barrels for long-term fermentation and aging, producing naturally brewed soy sauce that is popular not only locally but can also be found in some fine restaurants in Fukuoka and other cities.
After learning about the production process, we experienced a taste comparison of soy sauces, including special brews and premium soy sauces made only with soybeans, salt, and wheat, as well as raw soy sauce that can only be bought here.
Everyone had a different favorite, and everyone bought at least one souvenir. A surprise to many was their original pudding made with eggs, milk, caramel, and soy sauce accents. Yum!
After walking through the backstreets of the fishing port, we arrived at the oyster huts. From around October to March, you can enjoy grilling not only Itoshima-grown oysters but also freshly caught seafood of the day.
It happened to be the season of squid in early March, and we had fresh squid sashimi and grilled squid legs.
We also indulge in side dishes like oyster rice, squid, and fried oysters.
Although we were pretty full from lunch, there’s always room for something sweet! Next, strawberry picking! Fukuoka is known for its strawberries, and Itoshima has several pick-your-own farms.
At this farm, we did the all-you-can-eat 40-minute plan and stuffed ourselves! It was like heaven on earth.
Next, we visited a direct sales market offering fresh produce from local farmers and fresh fish from the nearby port of Fukuyoshi.
The nanohana (rape) were in full bloom, creating a brilliant yellow background for snapshots. For ¥110, you can stuff a bag packed and cook them up at home. One of our adventurous guests filled a bag. We wonder how she cooked them?
We walked along the coast and inside a quiet pine forest for the last stage. This area is not a popular tourist attraction, but we included it to show our guests some of the real Itoshima that many visitors might miss.
After leaving the pine forest, we found ourselves in Fukuyoshi Fishing port, where our van was waiting to take us back to Chikuzen-Maebaru Station, where we started the journey. It was a full day, and yet we barely scratched the surface of what Itoshima has to offer.
As the publishers of Itoshima Now, we are always thrilled to showcase the area’s unique charms to those who genuinely appreciate it. We hope our guests on this trial tour had a memorable experience and will return to explore more of Itoshima’s hidden treasures.