“The Galapagos in the East” – Ogasawara Islands
Did you know that there are “mysterious islands” in Tokyo, about 1,000 kilometers to the south of central Tokyo?
The Ogasawara Islands consist of about 30 islands, including Chichijima and Hahajima Islands. Surrounded by the ocean, resulting in an isolated environment, the islands have many unique creatures which are rare worldwide, as well as offering an ecosystem based on those creatures. With the scarcity and value of those creatures and ecosystem recognized, the islands were registered on UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage List in 2011.
With a subtropical climate, the islands offer various marine activities throughout the year, such as swimming with dolphins. You may encounter green sea turtles while swimming with dolphins. From January to April, it is the season for whale watching. A cruising tour is offered, where you can see humpback whales closely. As they come to the area to breed and rear offspring, you may be able to see parents with infant whales.
By simply looking at the ocean, you may come across a mesmerizing grand view. At sunrise or sunset, you may see a grayish-pink band low in the sky. This beautiful atmospheric phenomenon is called the “Belt of Venus.” The dark-blue line underneath is the Earth’s shadow. This beautiful phenomenon can be seen all the more because of Ogasawara Islands’ clean and pure air.
For a trip to Ogasawara, make Chichijima Island the hub for sightseeing. It is the main island of the Ogasawara Islands, which has accommodation facilities, restaurants and cafes, and activity facilities. Located a day-trip distance from Chichijima Island, Hahajima Island is the southernmost inhabited island of Tokyo, abounding in nature. There are some endemic plants and animals of Ogasawara, as well as precious plants and animals only found in Hahajima Island, making it a great place for ecotourism. The islands also have lots of delicious local food, such as shima-zushi (island-sushi), tomatoes, and passion fruit. You can enjoy a special cup of coffee with coffee beans “made in Tokyo” and rare chocolate made with “made-in-Tokyo” cacao.
It is said that the first people to settle the Ogasawara Islands were not Japanese but Westerners and Pacific Islanders who came to the islands in 1830. Therefore, there are various kinds of culture, including a unique Nanyo-odori dance that is said to be descended from the dance in the Pacific Islands area.
After WWII, the Ogasawara Islands were temporarily under the control of the US and returned to Japan on June 26, 1968. Therefore, the islands hold a festival to celebrate the return in June every year. On Chichijima and Hahajima Islands, live music, dance, and local entertainment performances are held on the stage, so you can enjoy the energetic performances while enjoying local dishes at stalls.
To get to the Ogasawara Islands, you have to take a regular liner “Ogasawara-maru,” which runs about once a week. Get on the ferry from Takeshiba Pier, Tokyo, and it takes 24 hours one way. However, the ferry is very comfortable, making your trip a fun time.
Watch the following video to see what your trip on the “Ogasawara-maru” will be like:
How about heading to the Ogasawara Islands with its beautiful nature, unique culture, and relaxing atmosphere, to fully stretch out and relax yourself?
For details, please visit:
Chichijima Tourism Association (Ogasawara Village Tourist Association)
Hahajima Tourism Association
Ogasawara Village Tourism Bureau
Tokyo has more islands full of attractive aspects! Check them out!
Photo by Ogasawara Village Tourism Bureau
*The information herein is as of April 2020.