Daikonjima, which translates to English as Radish Island, is a volcanic island that can be reached by bus from Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. It is extremely famous for two things: Korean ginseng and Japanese peonies. Although the whole island is formed out of volcanos and covered with ash, it has been known for agriculture since the Edo period. Let’s find out more about this fascinating place and its ginseng and peonies!
Before the beginning of Edo period, Daikonjima was an uninhabited piece of land filled with dust and lava flows. You can find lava tubes in the districts of Osoe and Terazu, which are nothing but caves or tunnels formed due to lava flows. This 4.89 sq.km island was used by fishermen to catch fish in the Lake Nakaumi, a saline lake very close to the sea separating the Tottori and Shimane prefectures.
Daikonjima is actually a lake island present in the center of Nakaumi formed due to the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Ozuka. The great Eshima-Ohashi Bridge, one of the steepest in Japan, is built across the lake through Daikon to allow traffic to pass from Matsue to Sakaiminato. The waters surrounding Daikonjima contain octopi, thus sometimes earning it a different name: Tako-shima (Octopus Island). However, as the island became cultivable, its name has changed to Daikon-shima (or Daikonjima), which translates as ‘Radish Island’ due to its production of Korean ginseng.
Ginseng is a type of root that is native to East Asia but can also seen in North America, Siberia and the Himalayas. There are many varieties of ginseng, the popular one being the Korean ginseng that hails from Korea and some parts of China. During the Edo period, the cultivation of Korean ginseng on Daikonjima became big, thus making the farmers on the island rich. It is said that the island produces the world’s finest quality ginseng that is exported abroad at very high prices.
The main problem with ginseng cultivation is that it usually takes more than five years to get the crop-yield, which makes local farmers turn to peonies for a quick buck. If you are looking for a peony island paradise, Daikonjima is the place to go. Did you know that the island produces more than 1.8 million peony flowers, mostly the Japanese varieties, every single year?
There are different products made from ginseng & peony tree extract, including teas, pickles, medicines and so on. If you are looking for such items, you should head to the very famous Yuushien Garden on Daikonjima. Usually, there is an entrance fee to visit this Japanese garden filled with peonies. The owners of the garden built it to help the local farmers sell their products by attracting tourists.
The island is not that big and can be covered pretty much on foot. However, if you get tired, you can relax at Yuushien and taste their products. The garden has attractive bridges, ponds, and trees that will definitely make you want to stay longer. The peonies at Yuushien usually bloom in spring, mostly in April which makes this the best time to visit Daikonjima.
Take a trip and feel enthralled by the beauty of Daikonjima in the spring. There are also a lot of attractions in nearby Matsue and Yasugi such as the Adachi Museum, Toko-ji Temple and so on. You can pay a visit to Yuushien aforementioned to buy a souvenir consisting of the finest quality Korean ginseng to give to your family or friends.