Touring the Islands of Toba

Touring the Islands of Toba

Toba was everything I imagined it to be: cultural, delicious, and fun.

It’s the resort town of Mie with hotels lined up along the coastline, lots of seafood cuisines, and tons of fun things to do.

During my time in Toba, I had the opportunity to experience some of the many things Toba has to offer. I got to explore one of its islands, kayak around its clear waters, try out the local specialties, and stay in one of the coastal hotels with a breathtaking view.

Today I’ll be enjoying Toba to the fullest.

The Toba Bay

The Toba Bay

The first thing on our Toba itinerary was to do a walking tour of one of the 4 inhabited islands: Toshijima. We met up with our island tour guide from the Kaito Yumin Club at Toba Station and made our way to the Toba Marine Terminal to catch a ferry.

On the way, we looked around Toba and stopped by the Toba Marche, the main seafood market in the area. At the Toba Marche, they sell different kinds of seafood, from raw fish to fully packaged souvenirs, all at an affordable price! Our tour guide actually lives on Toshijima and she says this is where she does all her shopping on the way back home from work.

We arrived at the Toba marine terminal, the connection point to the Toba islands. Here, you can ride a boat to the 4 residential islands as well as other islands around the area. As we purchased our tickets, I noticed a boat that was heavily decorated and had a huge statue standing on the Upper deck.

Later, I found out that this is the Ryugu Jo Ferry, inspired by a Japanese fairytale.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the ferry we would ride to Toshijima.

Arriving at Toshijima

Arriving at Toshijima
There are 4 main islands off the coast of Toba: Sakatejima, Sugashima, Kamishima, and Toshijima. Out of those, Toshijima is the biggest island with a population of around 2000.

The ride to Toshijima was a short 20 minutes and we arrived at the port of Wagu, on the south side of the eastern region. Our tour will start here and the plan is to walk over to Toshi, from where we’ll catch a ferry back to the mainland.

Life on Toshijima

Toshijima isn’t a tourist attraction. It’s a residential island with its own livelihood and the purpose of this walking tour is to take a look into what it’s like to live here.

At first, I didn’t notice any contrasting details about the place, but as the tour progressed, I started to notice how different life is on this island.

Life on Toshijima seemed to revolve around fishing.

Around the Wagu port area, there were rows of fishing boats on the pier, fishing tools lying around everywhere, and everyone we met seemed to make a living out in the ocean one way or another.

In fact, our tour guide said that there’s so much fish on the island, nobody ever buys fish. Vegetables and meat on the other hand, they have to buy at Toba since there’s no supermarket on the island.

Since fishing is such a huge part of the island, there’s an island wide alarm that goes off every morning at 6am, but nearly everyone is already awake and out at sea by then.

We then separated from the coast and passed by the inland residential area. We passed by a middle school and the guide told us that this is the only one in the entire island. On the island, there’s 2 elementary schools, one middle school, and no high school. The nearest high school is on the mainland and every high schooler commutes to school by ferry.

The Hachiman Festival

The Hachiman Festival
After passing the only middle school on the island, we then came across the only post office. In front of the post office is a stage and every February, the town holds the annual Hachiman Festival here.

During the festival, a group of men would run up a hill holding a white flag with the character “八”(hachi) on it. Out of nowhere, they would drop the flag and everyone watching would gather around and fight for the flag.

The festival gets quite rough and women and children are actually advised to watch from afar. The festival is held to pray for another year of successful fishing and safety out in the sea.

A Restaurant on Toshijima

A Restaurant on Toshijima
After a good hour and a half of walking and exploring, we already reached the other port, Toshi, and it was lunchtime!

Our guide brought us to a local"Maruto Shokudo" mom and as you may have guessed, fish was on the menu. We had the boiled fish set meal which came with rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables.

Everything tasted really fresh and the lady working said that the fish was actually caught about 30 minutes ago so we came at the perfect time.

As expected from Toshijima.

After a nice warm meal, the tour came to an end and it was time to head back to the main island.

The Toba Grand Hotel

The Toba Grand Hotel
We planned on going kayaking right after the Toshijima tour, but as soon as we arrived in Toba, a huge thunderstorm arrived. There was no choice but to postpone the kayak to the next day so we checked into the Toba Grand Hotel, one of the hotels on the Toba coastline.

We brought our stuff in and grabbed a seat at the lobby, where there’s a drink bar and a wide open view of the Mitsushima islands standing tall in the Ise Bay.

Our rooms were typical Japanese Washitsu rooms with tatami mat flooring, futon mattress, and a wide open view of the oyster farms outside.

After checking into the room, I ended up coming back to the lobby to enjoy the drink bar and the view before going to dinner.

The Dinner Buffet

The Dinner Buffet
The dinner at the Toba Grand Hotel is buffet style and one of the best I’ve had in a while.

Toba is known for its seafood so there was no shortage of sashimi and oyster cuisines. There were also all kinds of Japanese dishes like tempura, udon, and mini nabe. To cater for the western taste, there was also pasta, lasagna, and cooked to order steak.

By the time I tried a sample of everything, I was already full.

Tourist attractions covered by this article