This Week on Iki Island – 30 November 2021
Two of my worlds – Maction Planet and Kanpai Planet – collided this weekend as I was invited to consult on some Shochu-related tourism projects on Iki Island!
Iki Island is part of Nagasaki Prefecture, but we got there by Jetfoil in 65 minutes from Bayside Place Hakata Wharf in Fukuoka City. You can also take a car ferry or fly there.
Formed by a volcano that was last active 400,000 years ago, Iki Island is part of an archipelago with 4 permanently inhabited islands out of 23 named islands. Iki has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, and now around 28,000 residents live in an area the size of Lichtenstein.
The island is absolutely stunning and is home to over 1000 Shinto shrines, Kofun Burial Mounds, many natural wonders such as Monkey Rock (above) and the exceptional Nagasaki Prefectural Archeological Centre, Iki City Ikikoku Museum (below) designed by Kisho Kurokawa (of Nakagin Capsule Tower fame).
Kojima Shrine (featured image) is known as the “Mont Saint-Michel of Japan.” It’s located on a tiny island, and the path that connects it with the Iki ‘mainland’ appears for a few hours at low tide. Nothing is allowed to be taken from this sacred island, just photos and memories!
Oni no Ashiato, the Devil’s Footprint, is just a few kilometres from Gonoura Port in Makizaki Park. Its described in Iki folklore as a footprint made by a demon, planting his feet in order to save a whale. The other one can be found on the other side of the island at Tatsunoshima.
There are 7 Shochu distilleries on the island, all making Mugi (Barley) Shochu. In fact, Iki has its own GI protection, just like Champagne! Between them, they make a whopping 107 types of Mugi Shochu! I didn’t sample all 107, but I gave it a good go! It was my job after all. One of my favourites was Monkey Rock from Amanokawa Distillery, and I’m not just saying that because President Nishikawa is standing next to me!
I can’t end this week’s edition without mentioning that my beloved baseball team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, are the 2021 Nippon Series champions. I watched the clincher, Game 6, at the View Hotel Iki, sat on the tatami floor of my room while enjoying some delicious Amazake from Ikinohana Distillery to calm my nerves. Of course, I travel everywhere with a trademark Swallows run-celebrating umbrella… just in case! Well, it certainly came in useful on Saturday. Many Maction Planet Bespoke Japan Tour guests have taken in a game at Meiji Jingu Stadium, and many of them reached out after the result to congratulate me. Thank you to all who did so – it truly meant so much to know that visiting a Swallows game was one of the highlights of your time in Japan.
Until next time… We continue… and Kanpai!