Wander in the Museums of the Oki Islands
If you are an explorer that loves to visit museums and discover the unknown, do not miss out on visiting these museums on the Oki Islands!
Let's get to know the Oki Islands and our planet better! The Earth, ecosystem, culture and history, how are they all connected? Find out how everything started in the first place and how we, humans, co-exist with our planet, Earth.
Visiting the museums before travelling the island is like having a compass that will enhance your visit to become even more fascinating! Many answers to the questions that you may never have thought of before will be answered here!
Opening hours: 9:00–17:00 (1st April–23rd November)
Entrance fees: 1st floor - Free. 2nd floor - International visitors price: Adult 150 yen, University/High school students 100 yen, 6 to 15 years old 100 yen (Please show your passport or resident card to get a discount)
Location: 5 min on foot from Beppu Port. The standard visiting time is 20-30 min.
On the first floor
Take a look at Nishinoshima Island on a large map that is displayed on the floor. You can ask the staff there to explain in Japanese about the whole island’s locations as well as make recommendations for must visit places. Few exhibitions with some English explanations are available.
The 2nd floor is divided into 6 zones.
Archaeology and Excavations Zone
The exhibition shows the history of Japan and the Oki Islands throughout the time period, from the palaeolithic age to the middle age. Earthenware artefacts are also being displayed.
Festivals and Traditions Zone
Being an island with many festivals and traditions, this zone displays how many traditions started since the Edo era (1603–1868). Merchant ships used Oki Islands as a port to wait for favourable winds and brought many cultural influences from all over the country to Oki.
Household Utensils Zone
See how food used to be stored or made! Many clothes and household utensils that were used in the past are nicely displayed here.
Four Seasons Zone
The island sits between tall cliffs and the ocean, with one side being a windy open ocean, and a calmer inner sea on the other. Take a look at how the island looks differently every season. The vibrant blue sea in summer, the warm colour of the fallen leaves in autumn, cold white snowy winter, and blooming flowers that paint the whole island colourful in spring.
Life in Nishinoshima Zone
Discover more about how local people used to fish using the kanagi fishing method. In this method the fishermen use a kagami (wooden viewing box) to look into the bottom of the sea and use a spear to catch fish, shellfish, and seaweed. One fascinating fact to find out is that they used to drip a couple of drops of awabi liver oil and other natural oils on the glass bottom of the viewing box to make them see clearer into the water!
Nishinoshima Nature Lover Mr Yasunobu Kimura and Local Hero in Japanese History Mr Hatao Yamamoto Zone
Some of Mr Kimura’s birds’ collections are displayed in this area. Find out more about Mt.Takuhi’s unique laurel forest, which is home to more than 180 species of birds and also is an immigrating site for many birds. Get inspired by Mr Yamamoto’s life story and his last words.
Kuroki-gosho Imperial Residence Site & Hekifū-kan Museum
Opening hours: 9:00–17:00 (1st April–23rd November)
Entrance fees: 1st floor - Free. 2nd floor - International visitors price: Adult 150 yen, University/High school students 100 yen, 6 to 15 years old 100 yen (Please show your passport or resident card to get the discount).
Location: 5 min on foot from Nishinoshima Furusato-kan. The standard visiting time is 20-30 min.
Emperor Go-Daigo was exiled to the Oki Islands in 1332, and according to one of the theories he lived on Nishinoshima Island. It is believed that he resided here, at Kuroki-gosho. Visit the museum to discover more about his time here on the island and the dramatic escape that would not have been possible without his allies and the help of the local people. The museum will help you understand more about Japanese history and the shogunate system along with Nishinoshima’s history!
Back in the past, emperors were like God to the people. Exile destinations for high-born people back then had to be somewhere that is hard to escape, but must still be a place where they can live without too much struggle. Since the Oki Islands are known for being the islands of exile, this also shows that they must have been liveable since back then, too.
Oki Islands Geopark Museum
Opening hours: 9:00–17:00
Entrance fees: Adult: 500 yen, Child: 250 yen, Children ages 6 and under: free
Location: 2 min on foot through the connecting walkway, on the 2nd floor of the Oki Islands Geopark Visitor Center. The standard visiting time is 30 min.
Located next to the ferry terminal itself, the Oki Islands Geopark Museum acts as a gateway to the island. Make your journey here more fascinating as you learn about the origin of the Earth, and see how everything is all connected. You will discover many incredible things here!
What is a geopark? Geopark is all about people and land; how people live with nature and how the nature influences the people living there. Guiding in English is available upon earlier request (the English-speaking staff is not available every day) and all the displays and panels have a detailed English translation.
Did you know that the Oki Islands used to alternate between being islands and a peninsula? Visit the museum to find out how! The museum is divided into many zones, and you will get to see the connections between nature and history. Find out the Earth’s story that is told by the rocks from the Oki Islands, and get to know the local endemic species of animals and plants.
The main display here is the spectacular projector located in the front. The projector shows the original map from the past that used to be exclusive to the government only. It also displays what the islands look like all year round, with many more options available.
There is also a kids zone, where children can enjoy playing with 3D prints of the island’s sightseeing locations and many more things. The museum sure knows how to make learning enjoyable for everyone of all ages!
Emperor Gotoba Museum
Opening hours: 9:00–17:30
Entrance fees: Adult: 300 yen, Child: 150 yen
Location: From Hishiura Port 15 minutes by bus, 20 minutes by bicycle.
The standard visiting time is 25 minutes. *No photography allowed*
For those who love Japanese history, this is a museum that should be at the top of your must-visit places list!
A small museum dedicated to Emperor Gotoba who was exiled to the Oki Islands 800 years ago. He lived in Ama Town for 19 years before passing away at the age of 60.
The museum underwent a renovation recently, some panels are now available in both English and Japanese. You can also ask the staff about the history of the area (in Japanese) as well while you are there.
From the Japanese history perspective, Emperor Gotoba is remembered as someone who have lost in a power conflict with the Kamakura Shogunate. during the Jōkyū disturbance and was exiled to the Oki Islands. However, after visiting this museum you will get to see a completely different point of view. He might have lost the battle, but he was also a creator, an artist who continued to do what he loves until the very end. After being exiled, he was respected on the islands after his death, too, and in 1939 the Oki Shrine was built to honour and worship him.
On the first floor, a copy of the last portrait painting of him before his exile to the Oki Islands, which was drawn as a parting gift to his mother is being displayed, along with his portrait as a monk, his hair style and clothes changed drastically just like his role. His poems, songs, and the documents that he wrote are also being displayed.
On the second floor, Japanese swords are being displayed. The swords were forged as offerings to him as Emperor Gotoba had a deep interest in them. The oldest one was forged in 1239, and the other ones were made at the same time as the Oki Shrine was built, in 1939. 2021 was the 800th anniversary of his arrival to the islands, a sword is once again being forged right now, and will be finished by spring 2023.
Guide availability hours: 9:30–18:00
Entô walk: From 16:30 (30-40 min)
Entrance fees: Free
Location: From Hishiura Port 5 min on foot
The standard visiting time is 20 minutes
The panels are available in both Japanese and English.
The Geo Lounge where you can sit and relax, watch the ferries go in and out of the port, is also a place where fossils from millions of years ago are being displayed.
The Geo Room “Discover” zone is where you will get a chance to look deeper and discover the continuous connections from the birth of Earth until the present to 250 million years in the future, the land, ecosystem, and the lifestyles of the people here. Follow along and find the traces of the Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history!
The exhibition room is mainly focused on the Dōzen Islands (Nishinoshima Island, Nakanoshima Island, and Chiburijima Island) and brings out their highlights! The unique species, places, culture and history are all included here.
Meeting place: Geo Lounge.
Join a walk around the exhibition room with a guide, and find out about the origin and the unique ecosystem of the Oki Islands, and the brief history of past activities of the people here. Depending on the day, the tour might take you outside for a pleasant walk around the hotel.
Tour duration: 30–45 minutes
Text and photos: Nicharee Plubsiri (Yaleen)