Nestled in the Seto Inland Sea just four kilometers from Takamatsu City lies the small island of Megijima. It’s known throughout Japan as Onigashima due to its associations with a local legend in which a small boy visited the island to fight its resident demons (known as “oni” in Japanese). Megijima now serves as the venue for the Setouchi Triennale (also known as the Setouchi International Art Festival) and is scattered with artworks to explore. In this article, we’ll introduce some of the not-to-miss spots across the island to help you plan your visit.
Ride the cute Meon ferry
JR Takamatsu station
Megijima can easily be accessed aboard the cute Meon ferry that connects from Takamatsu Port, which is around 10 minutes’ walk from JR Takamatsu Station. If you’re flying into Takamatsu Airport, there are regular limousine buses connecting to Takamatsu Station. Those arriving by car should use the parking lot near JR Takamatsu Station and continue on foot.
The ferries depart from the first floating pier of the Ukiasa Bridge - keep an eye out for the colorful pillar landmarks! They take around 20 minutes to get to Ogijima (another small island in Setouchi) before continuing to Megijima. The boats are distinctly painted red and white, which makes them stand out against the blue waters. There are usually six trips a day that depart every two hours, with the fare costing 740 yen for a round trip for adults and 380 yen for children (including tax). The last ferry returns around 5pm but it’s a good idea to check the current schedule in advance so you don’t get stuck on the island!
Ticket office in Megijima
When you arrive on Megijima, you’ll immediately see the demon statue and the Oni Lighthouse, which is also designed in the shape of a demon. Adjacent to the port is an information desk, Oni no Yakata, where you can pick up maps, purchase bus tickets or arrange a rental bicycle. The island has many hills, so it’s better to opt for an electric-assisted bicycle if you want to explore extensively.
Explore the island’s artworks
Parking Lot of the Seagulls
Megijima’s main art spots are clustered near the harbor, so they can easily be explored on foot. With the wind in your hair and the waterfront views, it’s a leisurely way to get to know the island and its artistic legacy.
20th Century Recall
Don’t miss Kamome-no-chushajo (Parking Lot of the Seagulls), which features 300 seagull sculptures lined up along a breakwater near the port. It was created by contemporary artist Takahito Kimura to reflect the relationship between seagulls and the sea breeze, with the seagulls acting as weather vanes and changing direction depending on the wind. It has become a photographic hotspot and can get particularly busy after each ferry arrives, so you may want to wait until later to get your shot!
Also not to miss is The 20th Century Recall by Hagetaka Funjo, which was installed during the Setouchi Triennale 2010. It consists of a bronze grand piano with four sails rising above that periodically emits music to resonate with the sound of the waves.
A short walk from the harbor is the Megijima Meigaza, an old warehouse that’s been reinvented as an American-style movie theater. The interior is decorated with vintage seats from California’s Historic Hemet Theater and signs from New York’s old 42nd Street venues, together with paintings and drawings that celebrate artist Yoichiro Yoda’s love for the Manhattan theater scene.
Walking around the city
A short walk from the port you’ll find a sculpture of Oni, which stands in front of an “ote” stone wall that was constructed to protect the nearby houses. In winter, the island is impacted by a strong wind known as otoshi that blows from the northwest, so these high walls were constructed to prevent the waves from crashing into the houses.
Within the stone walls, you’ll find the maze-like streets and narrow alleys of Megijima’s main settlement where you can lose yourself for an hour or so. Once you’ve built up an appetite, head to Oni no Daidokoro (Demon’s Kitchen). This traditional cafeteria exudes a bright and friendly atmosphere, with several counter and table seats for diners. Local specialties include the Megijima Curry, Oni Udon and Shippoku Udon (600 yen incl. tax) while coffee and croquettes are also available for takeaway if you want to eat on-the-go. Alternatively, you can order tempura and a variety of small bowls to enjoy your lunch at a relaxed pace.
Shippoku Udon 600 yen