Itoshima 糸島半島

The Ito Peninsula (Itoshima) is one of the most beautiful areas in all of Fukuoka, perhaps even Japan. From expansive stretches of white, sandy beaches to rolling hills and farmlands, its appeal might not be apparent to the casual eye. You have to go deeper.

Beauty doesn’t just flow from the landscape here. There’s also a distinct way of life that persists; the people give Itoshima its beauty, too. There are laid-back, hippy-like enclaves all along the peninsula where the denizens celebrate good food, good music, surfing and artistic pastimes. The friendliness is infectious. Drop into any one of the neighborhood joints—Sunset, Current, Cadillac Ranch, Hinode, Natty Dread and others—and you’ll get a feel for the local vibe very quickly.

After the 3-day Sunset Live festival ends in early September, marking the end of the summer season for many, Itoshima reverts to its quiet, peaceful ways. Autumn is actually one of the best times to visit; the beaches are empty and the unrelenting sun is gone. Kick back on the sand and listen to the wind sweep through the pines. Spend the night at a campsite or any of the several guesthouses and lodges. Eat some local fish. Or, just go fishing.

Lovers of the outdoors will find numerous hiking opportunities, and with some kayaks, you can explore the rocky coast. The Keya area boasts Japan’s largest basalt caves. Pleasure boats take passengers into the caves until winter sets in. The rocky cliffs nearby offer some challenging bouldering opportunities, too, for advanced rock climbers.

You’ll probably want a car, as buses are infrequent and don’t travel everywhere. In a pinch, you can take a cab from Maebaru Station. If you do visit by car, cruise the Sunset Road. The views from the windy cliffs are mesmerizing.

When Kyushu University relocated to the area, many expected a property boom and land grab. It didn’t happen. People would rather just commute back to Fukuoka City. The residents of Itoshima would rather everything stay the same. It’s easy to understand why.







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