”Nonoshima” is the central island of Urato and administrative hub of daily-life support services, home to the Urato Islands Development Centre （a branch office of Shiogama City also known as the ”Blue Centre”）.
The island is also home to many hidden mysterious and scenic spots, a group of caves called ”BORA”, a tunnel of camellias that blooms in spring, and a Jizo statue said cure the night-cries of infants.
As part of the ”Nonoshima Flower Island” project, the island is dotted with flower gardens created by volunteers, and community planting activities, especially of lavender and other herbs, are regularly held.
The Urato Development Centre（commonly known as the ”Blue Centre”）, is a branch office of Shiogama City Hall, as well as an accommodation and training facility, which supports the daily life of the islanders, alongwith the Urato Health Clinic next door. Stop by ”Urato Café Nanohana” to take a break or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee until your ferry arrives.
Sculptures Formed by Nature
As you wind through a narrow tunnel-like trail onto the road, you’ll meet the entrance to a cemetary and the mysterious ”Six Jizo” statues, alongside the ”Night Cries Jizo”. Local families would make a prayer to this Jizo statue, as it is said to cure children’s crying at night.
To the east of Kumano Shrine is the Camellia Tunnel, a path surrounded on both sides by native yabutsubaki（Camellia Japonica） creating natural tunnel. Walking through the camelia-covered tunnel, you almost feel like you’ve stepped into the world of a Ghibli animation! The path is also beautiful once the camelias have dropped their petals, creating a natural red carpet.
There are tiny caves built into rockfaces all over the island. Some say they were used as air-raid shelters and storage, while others say they were used for smuggling a great wealth in the olden days. The true original purpose of the man-made caves is a mystery, but today they are used as household storage facilities for fishing equipment.
Unaihama Beach is the perfect place to take a break when walking around the island, with its handmade swingset and comfortable benches made from driftwood. A beautiful view of the open sea and green islands stetches out before you. At low-tide the beach is connected to the nearest island.
On Nonoshima Island, a local group called the ”Nonoshima Inspiration Support Group” offers a wide range of exciting experiences, such as a tour of the island by ”danbekko” fishing boat, sea kayaking and seaweed harvesting. （Reservations required）
Nonoshima wharf, the embarkation point for the Shiogama City Ferry and the free shuttle-ferry to Nonoshima Island, you can enjoy one of the best sunsets on a fine-weather day.
As the blue skies gradually turn crimson red, soak up the warmth of the last rays of sun as a ‘sunset road’ stretches out over the ocean to the horizon.