In the middle of June, we went to Shiraishi Island, which is a small island in Okayama prefecture about 3 hours southwest of Himeji. We went with some of the Australian and American teachers from my residence. We stayed in a beautiful villa that could accommodate 10 people, which included a communal kitchen, dining room, living room and deck overlooking the ocean.
In order to attract more foreign tourists, Okayama Prefecture had the genius idea of building 5 houses/villas around the prefecture in lesser known areas. A couple are at the beach, one has an onsen and the other two are in the mountains. It's really inexpensive at around $25 per night. Okayama International Villas only allows foreigners to book accommodations.
I have visited three of the villas: Shiraishi Island, Ushimado and Takebe (2 beach villas and an onsen villa). Shiraishi Island is really wonderful. It's a very small island. There are no traffic lights, no movie theaters, no shops, 2 or 3 very small food markets and few restaurants and bars. It takes maybe 45 minutes to an hour to bike around the entire island.
We hung out at the villa for a bit and then headed to the beach to play. Below: Tina, Chelsea and Marie on the deck; and everyone walking to the beach.
After a day at the beach and kayaking we went back to the villa to clean up, have a few drinks and enjoy the view from our deck.