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Along the Bungo Channel, where Pacific Ocean marine currents combine with currents from Seto Inland Sea, the Kamae coastline is well-known for its rich and abundant marine ecosystem. Near the islands of Fukashima and Yakatajima, whose turquoise waters are a tourist destination unto themselves, the Kamae coastline is a good spot to stay and enjoy excellent sushi and other seafood.
Shimizu Marine Minshuku: Japanese traditional inn
If you are in the region, you can stay at Shimizu Marine, a minshuku (Japanese traditional inn) located between Saiki city and Kamae port. Minshuku are cheaper and more casual than ryokan and provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of the local people who run them.
Throughout the year, the Shimizu Marine Inn welcomes tourists from all over Japan who are attracted by the surrounding sea and come to enjoy the marine activities (swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing).
For over 40 years, Mrs. Abe has been in charge of the Shimizu Marine Inn, offering to her guests generous and exquisite meals highlighting the local fish. In the Shimizu family, all the men are fishermen and supply the Shimizu Marine Inn with freshest local catch.
The main building of the minshuku consists of a shared space with an amazing, relaxing view of the sea. Surrounded by small bays, the sea here looks still and calm, almost like looking at a lake. The place is perfect to discover and experience the traditional art of sumi-e.
Sumi-e, the Art of Zen painting
Sumi-e is an ancient art of drawing from China which uses only black ink diluted with water. In this type of painting, the focus is not on realism but in representing the subject according to how you feel about it. With my teacher, Mrs. Yoko, our subjects are little fish and mollusks freshly caught on the pontoon.
While strolling around the area, almost everyone I met had praise for the quality of Shimizu Marine Inn meals. Even so, the meal was way beyond my expectations, in both taste and quantity.
Mrs. Abe, the consummate hostess, will serve you as much fish as you want until you are satisfied! Of course the fish are local, fresh from the sea and prepared in healthy ways. Buri (adult yellowtail) sashimi, cuttlefish, Hiyougi scallops from Yakatajima, sea bream, and Zori-ebi (slipper lobster) were a few of the delights in my meal!
As I stayed during low season, I was given a huge room that can host up to 4 people. The simplicity of a traditional Japanese tatami room is perfect for a peaceful night's rest.
Fish auction market
Every morning at 7:30am, there is an auction at the fish market where Mr. and Mrs. Abe go regularly to buy fish for the inn. Although this place usually reserved for professionals, they invited me to join them as their guest.
The fish auction takes place right on the docks where fishermen unload their fresh catches. All the buyers of the region and local fishmongers gather to bid on the freshest fish.
Motosaru Bay - Black Sand Beaches
If you reach the inn by car, you must visit Motosaru Bay, as it is really close to Shimizu Marine Inn by car.
Motosauru Bay features a rare black sand beach with soft, fine sand. Although the weather wasn't great the day I visited, it was easy to see the beauty in this place. I'm sure you will find the scenery incredible if you are able to visit during good weather.
How to get there
The best way to go to Shimizu Marine Inn is by car (the inn has free parking). Located 23 km from Saiki, it is about a 30 minute drive via the 388 road. If you come from Kamae port, it is only 6 km and just a few minutes.[cft format=0]
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