Shodoshima Town is located in the central and eastern portion of Shodo Island, part of the Seto Inland Sea National Park. The town is blessed with beautiful natural surroundings, lying between the mountains and the sea. The town was formed on March 21, 2006 as a result of the merging of the municipalities of Uchinomi and Ikeda.
Shodoshima Town is renowned as the birthplace of olive cultivation in Japan, and as the setting for the movie based on Tsuboi Sakae's novel "Twenty-four Eyes". Many tourists come to see the Olive Park, the birthplace of olive growing, as well as the set used for the remake of "Twenty-four Eyes", preserved in the "Twenty-four Eyes" Movie Studio. There are also many other sightseeing spots, including Kankakei Gorge, accounted as one of Japan's three most beautiful gorges, and the Farming Village Kabuki Stage, which began in the 18th century. Kabuki is one of Japan's most famous traditional performing arts, and was long one of the common class's most popular forms of entertainment.
When you visit the Farming Village Kabuki Stage, be sure not to miss the nearby Nakayama Senmaida Paddy Field. These paddies make ingenious use of the mountain slopes, and allow one to follow in the footsteps of previous generations.
Photo:Farming Village Kabuki Stage and Nakayama Senmaida Paddy Field
Soy Sauce Warehouse
Shodoshima Town is also a thriving center for the food industry. Since the end of the 16th century, the island has made use of its strategic position on regular shipping lanes to become a center for production of that most famous of Japanese staples - soy sauce. This tradition has survived for roughly 400 years. After the end of World War Two, the town has taken advantage of its aromatic soy sauce and abundance of fresh seafood to produce tsukudani - fish or seaweed boiled in soy sauce - and this has since become one of the area's key industries.
Noodles being hand-rolled
Another food industry which also got its start in the late 16th century is that of tenobe somen. Somen are a kind of Japanese vermicelli; fine, long noodles made from wheat flour, sesame oil and salt. Tenobe (literally "hand-stretched") refers to the process of coating a lump of wheat flour dough with sesame oil and then stretching it as far as possible by hand. Stretching the fine noodles out in this manner can only be done during the dry months of winter. These noodles are still made in the traditional method, primarily in the Ikeda region, and have become one of the symbols of the winter season.
Sheer Rock Face
Should you visit the Fukuda region, the north-eastern part of Shodoshima Town, you are sure to see a sheer rock face. Shodo Island was once a center of rock quarrying, and it is said that stone from the island was used by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the general who unified Japan at the end of the Warring States Period in the 16th century, in building his elaborate castle in Osaka. In the Iwatani region, located between Fukuda and Uchinomi, there is the Hachinin Iwa, a giant rock which local legend says claimed the lives of eight people.
Olive Trees and Their Flowers
The cultivation of olives in Japan began in 1908. Attempts that were made to grow olives in a number of locations in Japan all failed, with success first being achieved in the Nishimura region of Shodoshima Town. For almost a century, Shodo Island olives have become famous nation-wide, earning the island the moniker "Olive Island". Olives are a type of oleaceous tree, and in early summer put forth white blossoms. In Europe, the olive branch symbolizes the hope for peace.
Today, an Olive Garden is maintained in Nishimura, the birthplace of Japan's olives, where olive leaves rustle in the wind.
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