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Suo-Oshima is the third largest island in the Seto Inland Sea and slightly smaller than the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Population is almost 20,000. The island looks like a goldfish and easily accessible by bus/taxi from the mainland via this Ohashi Bridge.Closest train station is Obatake Station not far from Iwakuni.
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Approaching Obatake Station. Suo-Oshima island is in sight from the train.
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JR Obatake Station platform.
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There is bus transportation from Obatake Station, but they run once an hour or so. If you want to visit the museum, you can take a nori-ai taxi (a small van) at Obatake Station costing 400 yen to the museum. The ride is maybe 10-15 min. or so.
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Crossing Oshima Ohashi Bridge.
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Crossing Oshima Ohashi Bridge.
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Crossing Oshima Ohashi Bridge.
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Crossing Oshima Ohashi Bridge.
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View from Oshima Ohashi Bridge.
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Suo-Oshima Town Hall was one of the stops of the nori-ai taxi.
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To me, the most significant thing about Suo-Oshima is that about 3,900 island residents emigrated to Hawai'i during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Because of this, the island has a sister-city relationship with Kauai and holds an annual Hawaiian festival in the summer.
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Bus stop closest to the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii.
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Bus schedule. Very few runs.
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It also has this Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii (日本ハワイ移民資料館) which was the main reason for my visit. http://www.towatown.jp/hawaii/english/index.html
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From the bus stop, crsos this bridge over a river.
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The sign points the way.
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Cross the bridge over the river.
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Then turn left as the sign says.
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Museum up ahead.
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The Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii.
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Go right for the front entrance.
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The museum is a large, two-story, Japanese-style house donated in 1997 by the family of Fukumoto Choemon (1881-1970) who emigrated to California and became successful and rich enough to build this house after returning to Japan. The museum opened in 1999.
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Museum Web site
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The museum is a spacious Japanese-style house.
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The museum is full of panel exhibits, mementos, artifacts, old books, and scrapbooks. It had a lot more than I had expected.
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The museum staff person there could immediately tell that I was from Hawai'i even though I had said little more than "Hello" in fluent Japanese.
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He knew immediately that I was from Hawai'i. That made me feel good actually, to know that I still haven't lost my Hawaiian traits even after living in Japan for many years.
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Oar from the Hokule'a signed by Nainoa Thompson when they visited Suo-Oshima in May 2007. That was a big event for the island and the Hawaiian community in Japan. I saw the Hokule'a only when they arrived at Yokohama.The Hokule'a is a traditional canoe where they use only the stars, wave motions, and bird observations for navigation like they did in ancient times. Nainoa was a pioneer in resurrecting and mastering this ancient form of navigation. You can read about their adventures on Suo-Oshima here, from May 20: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/holokai/2007/japan_4_hiroshima.html
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People from Suo-Oshima were among the first boatload of immigrants to Hawai'i in 1885. They emigrated due to dire economic conditions on the island.
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All the books in the museum are in open stacks where you can pull it out and read freely. Great for AJA researchers.
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The scrapbooks and other delicate materials should be digitized though, something which they haven't done yet.
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Old directory of all Japanese and Japanese-Americans living in Hawai'i. Never knew about this book.
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The museum also has two rooms full of Japanese school stuff. One room is full of books, scrapbooks, etc., donated by Ichisaburo Nakamura. He was a member of the Hawaii Kyoiku-kai (education council) which developed and published Japanese school textbooks.One of his scrapbooks had group photos of the Hawaii Kyoiku-kai who met every summer. I could recognize some of the faces. They were mainly Japanese school principals/teachers in Hawai'i. I spent a good amount of time in that room alone. Another room displayed old Japanese school textbooks including those published in Japan. I remember some of them from Japanese school and UH Manoa. Amazing to see all of them in one room.
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Also see my list of other Japanese-American and nikkei museums in Japan here..
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View of Suo-Oshima from the 2nd floor of the museum. The island is quite well populated with houses and fishing ports in many locations.
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After seeing the nikkei museum, I tried to catch the taxi van to the bus terminal, but missed it. The museum staff kindly asked his friend to drive me to the bus terminal. Souvenir shop near Ohashi Bridge.
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Bus terminal in central Oshima near Ohashi Bridge. Kind of run-down, former souvenir shop on the 2nd floor.
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Bus stop
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Bus schedule. Buses don't run that often.
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Oshima Ohashi Bridge
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Oshima Ohashi Bridge. Across the bridge is Yanai.
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I saw a few small whirlpools.
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Intersection at the end of Ohashi Bridge.
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From the bus terminal, I took a bus running along Suo-Oshima's northern coast. Turned out to be quite scenic.
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The main road runs along the northern coast for the most part. Just wanted to see what the island looked like.
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There are a few small islands near Suo-Oshima, uninhabited.
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And a few white-sand beaches.
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Once in a while, we saw a white-sand beach.
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Rural bus stop
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Got off here at Suo-Hachiman stop in Kuka.
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Suo-Oshima island, Yamaguchi manhole
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Centipede
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On the island, I also visited the town of Kuka where there is a Hawaiian restaurant called Aloha Orange (unfortunately closed when I was there).
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Kuka Folk History Museum
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Hachiman Continuing Education Village has a folk history museum, meeting rooms, hall, cultural facilities, and a small cafe. 八幡生涯学習のむら
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Kuka Folk History Museum is part of the learning village.
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Map of the Hachiman Continuing Education Village. It's basically a community/cultural center. They even hold hula and ukulele classes here. 八幡生涯学習のむら
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About the Hachiman Continuing Education Village in Japanese. Web site here
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Kuka also has this history museum called the Kuka Folk History Museum (久賀歴史民俗資料館). Open 9 am to 4:30 pm (enter by 4 pm). Closed Mon. Admission 400 yen.
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The museum has exhibits of local fishing and farming.
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Snow coats.
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Fishing nets.
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The Kuka Folk History Museum included this small exhibit on the island's emigrants to Hawai'i. It shows some of the stuff the emigrants brought back with them when they returned to Japan.
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Kansha (thank you)
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Certificate of Appreciation from 1927.
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Many of the immigrants returned to Japan after their 3-year labor contract expired. They brought back all kinds of stuff even this heavy baking oven.
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Japan-America goodwill baseball games.
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Pillows
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Old stone bath
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Old stone bath, Important Cultural Property.
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The stone bath is the oldest in western Japan, built in the 12th century.
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Around this area are 33 Kannon statues.
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Here are two of the Kannon statues near the stone bath.
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Water to extend your life.
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Jizo statues
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Jizo statues on Suo-Oshima island, Yamaguchi.
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Back on the bus to ride further east on the northern coast.
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Approaching Towa
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Suo-Oshima is famous for mikan tangerines. You see them often on the island.
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The island has many small fishing ports and towns.
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Sazanseto Towa tourist souvenir shop.
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Towa Sogo Center, a community center in Towa.
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Bus fares.
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Nishi Ihota bus stop
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Another place I got off the bus was here at Mutsu Park and beach. This is at the top tip of the gold fish tail if you look at a map of the island.
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Small beach at Mutsu Park.
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Next to Mutsu Park was Nagisa Park.
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Nagisa Park had this retired sea plane from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
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We couldn't enter the plane, probably because it was off-season.
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Nagisa Park is also a camping ground.
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Mutsu Memorial Museum dedicated to Battleship Mutsu. Museum Web site here
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Mutsu Memorial Museum exhibits articles recovered by Battleship Mutsu that mysteriously exploded on June 8, 1943 and sank 3 km off the coast of Suo-Oshima. 陸奥記念館
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Anchor from Battleship Mutsu which was world's most powerful battleship when it was built in 1921. The museum is open 9 am to 4:30 pm. Admission 420 yen.
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Mutsu Memorial Museum first opened in 1972 in a previous location. The museum reopened here in 1994.
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Many exhibits inside Mutsu Memorial Museum. When the Battleship Mutsu sank, 1,121 sailors died out of 1,474 crew. They hold a memorial service annually on June 8.
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Personal articles of the crew are included.
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Photos of when Battleship Mutsu was salvaged during 1970-1978. About 75% of the ship was recovered.
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Model of the Mutsu.
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Sketch of what the Battleship Mutsu looked like on the sea bottom.
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Binoculars from Battleship Mutsu.
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Porthole from Battleship Mutsu.
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Swords and pistols from Battleship Mutsu.
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Replica of bunk beds on the Battleship Mutsu.
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Large pieces of the Battleship Mutsu were also displayed outside.
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Propeller on the right.
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Gun from the Battleship Mutsu.
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Bow from Battleship Mutsu.
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Piece of the bow that is displayed. Other gun turrets and parts from the Mutsu are displayed at the Etajima Naval Academy in Hiroshima, Yamato Museum in Kure, and Yasukuni Museum in Tokyo.
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Monument for Battleship Mutsu.
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About Battleship Mutsu
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Area where Battleship Mutsu sank.
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Area where Battleship Mutsu sank.
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Didn't have time to see the Nagisa Aquarium adjacent to the Mutsu Memorial Museum.
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I took the bus back to Obatake Station in Yanai. It was about 25 miles.
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I enjoyed my day trip to Suo-Oshima. I want visit again and see their Hawaiian festival in summer and the southern coast. Suo-Oshima tourist Web site
 
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