Advice portal for relocating to Hiroshima’s idyllic Tobishima Kaido islands.
What is Tobishima Life?
This is an advice portal for anyone thinking of moving to the Tobishima Kaido in the Seto Inland Sea. All our advisors live and work on the islands and moved here within the last six years.
Using our local knowledge and network of contacts within the community, we can provide you with valuable advice about relocating or starting new projects in this beautiful corner of Japan.
What is the Tobishima Kaido?
The Tobishima Kaido is a set of seven islands in the Seto Inland Sea connected to mainland Hiroshima by seven bridges. The final island on the Tobishima Kaido chain, Okamura, lies within Ehime Prefecture. Okamura has good ferry access to Shikoku and the Shimanami Kaido to the east.
The Tobishima Kaido's warm climate and terraced fields are perfectly suited for growing citrus. The aging farmers still cultivate the hillsides and produce some of the finest citrus in Japan.
The infrastructure and well-maintained facilities on the islands can help turn innovative ideas into reality. Residents have privileged access to certified food processing facilities, modern meeting rooms, concert halls, theaters (traditional and modern), sports grounds and gymnasiums. A host of local businesses and facilities also cater to a burgeoning tourist trade.
Shimo Kamagari is the first island you reach after crossing the Akinada Ohashi Bridge from the mainland. Historically, the island was an important port of call for Korean emissaries and their entourages during the Edo period (1603-1868).
Tourists visit Shimo Kamagari for its museums, galleries and historical buildings. In summer, people flock to the public beach and campsite at Kajigahama. The Tobishima Kaido’s main DIY and gardening store is located on Shimo Kamagari.
The largest of the five main Tobishima Kaido islands, Kami Kamagari is a paradise for beach-lovers. In the height of summer, people from far and wide head to the main stretch of golden beach at the Kenmin-no-Hama resort. Go any other time of year and chances are you will have the entire beach to yourself.
With a hot spring onsen, accommodation, restaurants, sea kayak rentals, strawberry picking, moshio-salt workshop, a space observatory, tennis courts, swimming pool and SUP rentals all within close proximity to Kenmin-no-Hama beach, there is plenty on offer for both visitors and local residents.
The main town of Toyohama on the eastern side of Toyoshima is renowned for producing some of the finest fishermen in Japan. For centuries, the fishermen lived on their boats and fished the seas around the country, teaching locals fishing techniques in return for access to their waters. Although the house fishing boats have disappeared, the island is still famous for its high-quality catches of scabbard fish. Recently, a paid apprenticeship program is encouraging younger fishermen to move to Toyoshima to learn the fishing trade.
The beautiful town of Ocho – the largest on Osaki Shimojima – used to provide over 40% of the mikan oranges sold in Tokyo and grew the first Japanese lemon. The region is still famous for its delicious citrus fruits. During the citrus season, you can find stalls throughout the island selling mouthwatering varieties of oranges and lemons.
The picture-perfect harbor town of Mitarai on Osaki Shimojima is one of only three designated historical preservation districts in Hiroshima Prefecture. The town flourished during the Edo period (1603-1868) as a major harbor for trade ships heading to and from Osaka.
Okamura is the last island on the Tobishima Kaido chain and officially a part of Ehime Prefecture. Although the bridges of the Tobishima Kaido stop at Okamura, ferry routes connect the island to Imabari and Omishima – both on the popular Shimanami Kaido cycling course.
Cyclists take full advantage of this access, using Okamura as a way to link the Tobishima and Shimanami cycling routes.
There are a number of inhabited islands accessible by boat or ferry from the Tobishima Kaido.
Accessible from Toyoshima – Itsuki Island.
Accessible from Osaki Shimojima – Mikado Island, Osaki Kamijima (with access to Takehara and Hiroshima Airport).
Accessible from Okamura – Oge Island, Koge Island.
The Tobishima Advisors
Moved from Palau to Shimo Kamagari Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 6 Q: What’s the best thing about the Tobishima Kaido? A: The breathtaking scenery across the Tobishima Kaido is beyond compare. It’s not as touristy as other places and you get a real sense of authentic Japanese rural life.
Moved from Tokyo to Osaki Shimojima Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 6 Q: What’s the difference between city life and life on the Tobishima Kaido? A: In the country, there’s a deeper connection between people, place and community. Also the rents are cheaper and the general cost of living is less. Sometimes neighbors turn up and give you free vegetables!
Moved from UK to Osaki Shimojima (via Tokyo) Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 6 Q: What is the biggest difference between city life and country life? A: In the city, one individual doesn't count for much. But when you live out here, you get the sense that every person in the community is important. Having that extra pair of hands really makes a difference.
Moved from Tokyo to Toyoshima Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 5 Q: What do people do for work/income? A: There are institutions that offer full time employment on the islands. Some people live on the islands and commute to work on the mainland. Others tend to either start their own businesses or use their skills to create a variety of revenue streams.
Moved from Kobe to Okamura Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 4 Q: What are the kindergartens and schools like? A: Because the class sizes are small, the teachers have more time to support each child. The children thrive in this environment and love going to school.
Moved from Kochi to Okamura Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 4 Q: Are there schools on the Tobishima Kaido? A: There are three kindergartens, three primary schools and three junior high schools located throughout the Tobishima Kaido. There are high schools on the neighboring island and on the mainland.
Moved from Chiba to Okamura Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 4 Q: How do you spend your days off? A: Fishing, cycling, shopping in Hiroshima City, exploring the Shimanami Kaido, sea kayaking, freediving, SUP, hiking mountains, picking strawberries – there are so many fun things to do! A few times throughout the year, I join community events and take part in the festivals.
Moved from Sapporo to Shimo Kamagari Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 3 Q: How often do you meet other newcomers and interact with the locals? A: We have regular newcomer meet ups and drinks. The local islanders are really friendly so you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the local community.
Moved from Osaka to Kami Kamagari Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 3 Q: What’s the best thing about living in the Tobishima Kaido? A: Compared to the city, you get to spend more time with your family. That was one of the main reasons why I moved here.
Moved from Shizuoka to Osaki Shimojima Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 2 Q: Isn’t living on an island inconvenient? A: It’s a short drive to the mainland for any big shopping and there are shops on each island for small daily groceries. Amazon and other internet shopping sites deliver to the islands just like anywhere else.
Moved from Hiroshima City to Toyoshima Island Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 1 Q: What is the internet like on the Tobishima Kaido? A: They are planning to expand broadband to the islands within 2 years. At the moment, most people use mobile wifi services, ADSL provided by the cable TV company, or some form of tethering service. Reception is usually fine, but it’s good to check before you move.
Moved from New Zealand to Okamura Island Years living on Tobishima Kaido: 1 Q: Do you have to pay to cross the first Akinada Ohashi Bridge? A: There is a toll to cross Akinada Ohashi Bridge, but they sell a set of 100 tickets at a discount. That lets you cross the bridge at half the usual price.
Some ways that newcomers make a living on the Tobishima Kaido
Citrus Farmer / Vegetable Farmer / Fisherman
Guesthouse Owner / Share House Owner
Artist / Photographer / Writer / Graphic Designer / IT Consultant / IT Engineer
Rental Cycle / SUP Rental / Tour Operator / Freediving Instructor/ Hiking Guide
Food & Dining
Café Owner / Restaurant Owner / Craft Beer Producer / Food Production Facility Staff / Jam Producer
Home Care Nurse / Nursing Home Staff / Masseuse / Hairdresser
Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about life and work in the Tobishima Kaido.