Marimoso is a small minshuku, aka B&B, on Ogijima. It is a wonderful little place that is closed in the winter but that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out. It is not the most foreign friendly place but it is still very friendly and accommodating as well as having good food.
Marimoso is located next to the main wharf of Ogijima. When you get off the ferry, head right along the wharf to the fishing boats. At the fishing boats, look left and you’ll see a small 2 story house that looks like the most modern house along the wharf. Marimoso’s entrance is just behind this house but the entrance is a bit hard to see if you don’t know what you are looking for. The house is actually a lot bigger than you would ever expect. The house is pretty nice and when you enter it is a bit intimidating for people who are shy, but giving a shout will almost always summon the owner.
I believe Marimoso is also a restaurant in the day, so if you arrive during the lunch hours, you may be able to drop your bags off. If you arrive a little after, you may have a little trouble doing so. When I arrived on Ogijima, I headed to lunch but was in a little trouble when I arrived at Marimoso after 2pm. Everything was shut, and while I was able to walk into the central courtyard, there was no one around so I had to lug my bag with me for an afternoon of looking at art on Ogijima. I could have called out or dropped my bags off at the bag check area, but I was too shy and too cheap to do so.
If it is your first time at Marimoso, once you enter the main entrance, you will be in the cozy inner courtyard of the house. The main entrance is on the left and there are several doors to enter the minshuku. To the left is where the shower and bath are, and the main room at the entrance is the dining room. To the right is the kitchen as well as the stairs to the rooms. Upstairs there are 3 guest rooms as well as a small common area for people to just read books and relax. The washroom (toilet) is also on the second floor at the end of the hall.
When I returned after looking at the art on Ogijima, sometime after 3pm, the place was still “closed” but I called out to see if anyone was there. Thankfully the “mother” of Marimoso was there and let me drop my bags off. I was given the biggest room as there were no other guests. Each room is capable of hosting 4 people and it is the same price whether it is one person or 4; meals are extra and have to be ordered before you arrive.
After I dropped off my bag, I headed back out to enjoy the art. I saw a bit of the art and watched the last ferry depart. I then headed around to the fishing port side of the island before relaxing at Marimoso. The minshuku is really quiet and it is very relaxing. I really loved it and while I’m not a fan of sleeping on tatami, I had no problems with it. I really thought a night on the island was great.
Before dinner, the mother of Marimoso asked if I wanted to see something. She talked about the sunset being one of the top 50 in Japan. We headed to the wharf to check it out as she had no other guests but suddenly some clouds rolled in and I was unable to see the sunset. I was able to see a bit of the bright red sunset that is common from Ogijima and I was happy enough with it but I have another major reason to return to Marimoso. We then returned where I was served dinner.
Dinner at Marimoso was delicious. It was a simple Japanese meal and typical of minshuku. While most of the food was western friendly, do note that there may be one or two dishes that are not palatable to people. I love eating almost everything and I’m happy to try anything. There were 2 items that I believe would be difficult for western palates, such as mozuku. It is a type of sour seaweed that is most common in Okinawa. The other dish was a black bean appetizer. I forgot the name but I know some of my friends who would find it unappetizing. I found everything to be delicious with my meal. The locally caught fish was really delicious, the udon was great, and the rice was well cooked. I really love these simple Japanese dishes.
After dinner, I headed back outside. Thankfully the mother of Marimoso gave me some bug spray to protect myself. She highly recommended me to go out and enjoy the terminal building at night. You can only see it if you spend the night on the island. I had a good time heading out and taking photos of the terminal building. I also tried to see the stars but I was too afraid to head up into the village to see if I could see them better. I’m sure that if I went to the shrine that I would have seen many stars.
When I returned to Marimoso, my bath was waiting for me. The mother prepared everything and gave me an option of “babu”. Babu is just a bath salt additive that you put into the bath water. It dissolves like an Alka-Seltzer with an aroma. It creates a bit of a Jacuzzi like experience with whatever aroma you wish to have. I used it as a good way to time my bath and got out once the babu had fully dissolved. I really didn’t want a bath as it was a hot summer’s night, but I couldn’t say no to the kind hospitality of the mother.
Marimoso is a real experience at night. The peace and quiet of Ogijima at night was great but there are no air conditioners. You sleep in whatever temperature the ambient temperature is. There are fans for the room but I had trouble sleeping due to the heat. I also don’t sleep well on tatami but I did my best. I didn’t get the best sleep but I got enough. My biggest complaint was actually a complaint about the island. In Japan, cicadas are everywhere. Living in Tokyo you don’t really notice them but on Ogijima, they are LOUD! Most of the island is a forest and the village is pretty small. I was rudely awoken by the cicadas in the early morning and it sounded like a jet engine was running. If you do visit Marimoso, the best time to visit will be outside the summer season but I think it is still great to visit at any time of year.
In the morning, I also ordered breakfast. I ordered the western breakfast of toast and eggs. It was a nice simple meal. It was still Japanese style as the eggs had mayonnaise and the ham had ketchup. Personally, I’m happy with nothing on my eggs and ham. The toast was pretty standard for Japanese style toast and the small salad was nice. I usually don’t have a big breakfast and while the breakfast wasn’t big, it was still a bit bigger than I really wanted.
Marimoso is a wonderful minshuku. The mother was wonderful and a little shy. She had great stories to tell when I was enjoying my dinner. I really enjoyed the hospitality, although it can feel a bit imposing at times. The old house has been remodeled to be more comfortable and the food was good. When I return to Ogijima, I’ll definitely consider staying at Marimoso again. I really felt welcomed after she got to know me better. If you don’t speak Japanese, it may be a completely different experience as she is really shy about using English. She knows many basic words and can communicate well enough to get by. Things will not be easy but you will still be able to enjoy the stay.
Fun fact: I entered the place for the first time yesterday. This is where the “Team Ogi after party” was taking place after the “boat dance”.
Also, may I underline that cicada are not a Ogijima thing, but a “not Tokyo” thing. Consider yourself lucky if you never experienced them in their horribly loud splendor before. 😉
Cool fun fact. The big “living room” is great for that sort of event.
I think the cicada are a rural/suburban thing. Even in the city I never noticed them being that loud. 😉