Did you know that there is a small island that’s part of Tokyo? The island is called Aogashima and is about 358 km south of Tokyo. Although this island is part of Toyko, it is nothing like Tokyo. In fact this is the least populated area in all of Tokyo!
This is a volcanic island, it has about 160 residents living on it and still is still surrounded by much of nature. It is only the size of about 3.38 square kilometers and the most isolated island in Izu archipelago. Most of this island does not get any internet connection, it might be scary to have a phone the constantly says “No Service”. But, think about it, this really is a true opportunity to get away from your daily life where your phone keeps buzzing. Even without your phone, this island has a lot to offer and you will be fascinated with this beautiful island.
Fun Facts About Aogashima Island
As I mentioned earlier, this island is a volcanic island. And it is still recognized as an active volcano. In a historic record dating back to the Edo period it is mentioned that this volcano erupted in 1652. Don’t worry too much about the eruption, it is recoded that the last activity of the volcano was during 1781 – 1785. But since this is still considered as an active volcano, you are able to see the steam coming out from the ground. You can smell the sulfur, it is rare to have anyone that actually likes this smell but this smell will definitely make you feel like you are really close to the volcano.
People on this island uses this steam with pots and they even make use it to make a natural sauna. You can use the steam pot for free anytime so it might be fun to prepare your own lunch using it. Another interesting fact is that there are no house numbers in addresses on this island. House numbers associated with addresses are something similar to street names in Western countries. It is said that this is because there are only so many residents and many of them have the same last names.
The Mysterious Aogashima Island
So what makes it so mysterious anyway? – The current population being only 160 means it is most likely smaller than your elementary school. No one actually knows when it became inhabited. There is a story related to this island. It goes something like this, “If a man and a woman live together on the same island then the gods will punish them”. Following the warnings of this tale, the Japanese prevented women from coming to Aogashima, of course this isn’t the case now. Following the 1785 eruption the island became uninhabited for nearly 50 years.
Things to do in Aogashima Island
This island’s biggest selling point is its isolation and its rich nature. No matter where you go you can enjoy beautiful scenery and breathtaking views. Maruyama is probably the main attraction here. Maruyama is a great place to hike. You can see view seasonal flowers and trees. Wildlife is also present and birds as well as other small critters can be found here. This hike is short and you can expect to finish the full course in around 20 min depending on how many pictures you decide to take.
We mentioned earlier that there are natural saunas on the island. This is a great place to take a rest and loose yourself in the gorgeous surroundings. This sauna is called fure-ai sauna. “Fure-ai” means “to interact”. This sauna doesn’t only cater to the tourist, but to locals as well. It is a great place to meet new people and interact!
*It is closed every Wednesday and the last day of the month Tuesday. During the week days, it is open from 4PM till 8PM and weekends and holidays open from 2PM till 8PM.
This next one is an absolute must do while you are here, Stargazing. Although you can enjoy this on any part of the island, the best spot is on the northern coast of the island. There are no houses or even streetlights up there, your only company will be a few cows and the stars in the sky. Not only is there an absence of light pollution, but there is no excess noise. The view from here is so beautiful that the Japanese call it “The Coliseum of the Stars”.
Access and Place to Stay
It is difficult to get to Aogashima. Because of its rather extreme isolation getting Aogashima is an adventure in and of itself. There is only one helicopter that goes to and from the island and it seats only nine passengers. The best way to get to Aogashima is take an airplane from Haneda airport to Hachijojima island. Then transfer to a helicopter there. If you decide to go by boat, there is only a 50% chance that you will actually make it there. This is due to the lack of beaches and natural bays on this island which makes docking any vessels risky and dangerous.
Tokyo (Haneda Airport) → Hachijojima Island
ANA (All Nippon Airways): It takes about 55 mins and cost about 11,000 JPY (Price varies depending on the seasons.)
*There is a boat avaiable too, but it takes about 11 hours. Therefore, I highly suggest you to take a plane from Haneda.
Hachijojima Island → Aogashima
1. Toho Air Service (Tokyo Airand Shuttle): It is a helicopter and takes about 20 mins. It costs 11,210 JPY.
2. Tokai Kisen: It is a boat and takes about 2 hours and 30 mins. It costs about 2,790 JPY (varies depending on the fuel price).
Places to stay
There are 6 lodging in Aogashima island and a campground. In average, it costs about 7,500 JPY – 9,000 JPY per night. Price includes 3 meals. Please refer the website for more lodging information.
Visiting this island is truly like traveling to a different world. You couldn’t find a place more different from Tokyo yet technically within Tokyo if you tried! This place is full of wonder and will truly leave an impression on you. This would be a great idea for you adventure seekers that truly want a unique experience in the land of the rising sun.
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Website: Aogashima Island