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Yoshima YMCA Retreat

A great place to recharge your batteries

oshima Island is located off the southern tip of Shodoshima in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. It has an area of 2.2 square kilometers and is about 1 kilometer from the main island of Shodoshima. Although Yoshima is part of Shodoshima and therefore Kagawa Prefecture, it is administered by the Kobe YMCA.

In 1950, just a few years after the end of WWII, the Kobe chapter of the YMCA was granted administrative control of Yoshima in keeping with the social fervor of the time. In 1977 the Yoshima Outdoor Activities Center opened and has continued its mission to bring young people in contact with nature.

Yoshima offers a variety of rental accommodation from simple cabins to modern eloquently appointed vacation houses. The cabins and houses have full baths and kitchens and are quite comfortable. I was surprised to find that they also come with tatami rooms.

The facilities at the retreat are geared towards enjoying the natural environment especially the sea. Accordingly, there are canoes and kayaks available for use on the normally calm Seto Sea. If sport is your thing there are tennis courts and open areas suitable for football or Frisbee. There are beaches surrounding Yoshima but be sure to check the signs for which ones are safe to enter.

The island has a cafeteria with a set menu but of course you could bring your own food. There is a small general store that sells simple foodstuffs, snacks and drinks. If you would like to have a large open air barbecue you can make arrangements in advance with the island staff. They can supply all the ingredients which would vary depending on the size of your group.

Depending on when you go, you could be the only visitor or there could be several groups on the island at the same time. Yoshima attracts families, couples, schools, universities and companies to its shores.

One special feature of the island is Angel Road. It is a sand bar that appears at low tide and allows you to reach the main island of Shodoshima on foot. Just make sure you get back before the tide comes in!

Reaching Yoshima is not so difficult. You can take the 45 minute ferry ride from Shin Okayama Port. Then take the 20 minute walk from Shodoshima Port to the Yoshima ferry pier. The 10 minute journey on the small ferry puts you closer to the sea and is a great introduction to the island. Setting this all in motion simply takes an email or a phone call to reserve your spot.

by Kenji

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