Takeshima: Aichi’s Hidden Paradise
Michelle Endo May 29, 2015
For those living in and around the greater Nagoya area, finding an easily accessible beach can be a challenge. But look no further than Takeshima Island and the Gamagori coast. As a Californian who’s never lived more than a five minute drive from the ocean, residing in Nagoya makes me feel landlocked despite the fact that I live in Japan—an island. I was desperate to find some decent body of water nearby that my carless self could visit conveniently. So I looked at Google Maps, followed all the train lines I had access to, and marked the stops that were near the ocean. And that’s how I found Gamagori. Gamagori is about a 45 minute train ride east from Nagoya on the JR Tokaido Main Line. Located by the Mikawa Bay, Gamagori is known for its summer festival and fireworks, amusement park Lagunasia, and small islands. One of the islands is Takeshima which is about a 15 minute walk from the JR station. Takeshima is a tiny island with a 620 meter periphery and can be walked around in roughly 30 minutes. It contains over 238 species of temperate terrain vegetation including bamboo, making you forget you’re on an island and not in a forest. There is also a 387 meter footbridge that connects the island and the mainland, so you don’t have to worry about ferry times. As you walk across the bridge, you’re welcomed onto the island by passing under a torii gate. Toro, or stone lanterns, are placed all throughout Takeshima. Once on the island, head up a short flight of steep stairs to Yaotomi Shrine. Yaotomi Shrine is one of seven shrines in Japan dedicated to Benzaiten, a protector divinity and the goddess of everything that flows including eloquence, knowledge, and music. The shrine is enclosed in a small village of statues, toro, and setsumatsusha, which are small shrines that support the larger shrine. A bamboo lined path leads you out of the shrine and transports you to another world, bringing you to a heavenly view of the bay. The panoramic scenes are endless and nearly hypnotizing. The calm waves and seascape call out to you, telling you to climb off the path and on to the rocks, reaching closer to the horizon. The best time to enjoy this small slice of paradise is during sunset. Find a spot on a rock and watch nature’s symphony go down. The few visitors who are there will join in the sky-and-sea watching spectacle. The only sounds you’ll hear are the waves and maybe a few camera clicks here and there. When I visited no one talked during the entire sunset. No one was running around taking a million pictures. There were definitely no selfie sticks or even selfies taken. The island wasn’t about us. Everyone had a mutual respect and reverence for what was around us. If you’re worn out by daily life in Japan, escape to Takeshima. If seeing the mainland 387 meters away, hearing nothing but serene waves, and witnessing a tranquil sunset doesn’t heal your soul, then I don’t know what will. Go. Your paradise awaits.