Japan is a great country to visit because there are a variety of things that you can enjoy there. They have something to offer to every kind of interest you might have. If you are the type of person to sit back and watch the wildlife on channels like the National Geographic channel or the Discovery channel, you will surely love what you can set your eyes upon when you visit the isolated islands of Japan known as the Ogasawara Islands.
The Location on the Map, Weather, and History of the Ogasawara Islands of Japan
This part of Japan is not popularly visited because it isn’t connected to the mainland in any way. It is a group of islands that consists of the Chichijima, Mukajima, and the Hahajima islands which are all located in the far south of the Japanese mainland, specifically 1000 kilometers south. Its location makes it so that the islands have the same subtropical climate that you can enjoy in places like Okinawa and this is a good thing because this means that there are a lot of beautiful beaches here.
Before getting into how it is presently, you should know that this place also has quite a history. Since it is pretty far from the main islands of Japan, in the earlier centuries, a lot of explorers claimed this land. Records from European historians state that on October 2 in the year of 1543, the islands of Hahajima were actually sighted by the Spanish explorer named Bernardo de la Torre and he referred to this island as Forfana.
More than a hundred years later, the Japanese discovered the islands of Kanbun and this was followed up with the expedition of the shogunate. They claimed these islands as part of their territory and named the island Bunin Jima which literally translated to the “uninhabited islands”. Contrary to this though, prehistoric tools and carved stones were found on the island of Chichijima at the end of the 20th century which hinted that some of these islands were populated sometime during the ancient times.
Control over the island was passed around between the British and the Americans before World War II and by the year of 1875, the islands were officially recognized as Japanese territory. It even served as military bases during World War II but after the war, the Americans took control of the islands once again until the year of 1968. Despite this involvement with war, the islands were luckily undamaged and this can easily be seen with the well-preserved nature to be found here in present times. It is actually because of the wildlife and nature there that these islands were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the unique species of animal and plants that can be found on these islands.
The Main Attractions and Hotels to be found on the Ogasawara Islands
There are a couple of inconveniences that you will go through when you go here due to the remoteness of the islands but in exchange for those inconveniences, you get to enjoy untouched beaches and jaw-dropping natural landscapes that can only be seen here on these islands. There are a couple of islands that make up the Ogasawara Islands but you need only to go 2 islands. These islands are named the Chichijima Island and the Hahajima Island.
The Chichijima Island is the largest island among all the islands of the Ogasawara Islands. It is full of mountainous views and white sand beaches so it is the perfect getaway for the beach bums and lovers out there. Being in a view and surrounding that on an island as remote as these islands will truly be something that you can’t get just anywhere in the world. This fact is what makes going here worth it because these islands offer something other places in the world cannot.
Aside from the beaches here, you can enjoy the aquatic activities available here. There are tours around the island provided by the Ogasawara Village Tourist Association that are conducted in both English and Japanese and they give information-filled maps to help you picture where you are during the tours. You can also be assured that your life isn’t in danger because the guides on these island tours are licensed guides from tour companies.
If seeing the island on a boat isn’t enough for you, you can also opt to participate in the whale and dolphin watching activities that are quite popular with tourists in this area. The type of whale or dolphin you can see will depend on the time of the year that you are visiting on. If Humpback whales are that you want to see, go here during the months of February and April. If Sperm whales are more interesting for you, go during the months of July and September. A half day whale and dolphin watch would cost you around 6000 yen while a whole day watch would be for 10,000 yen. These tours can easily be arranged through tour operators and booking in advance might entitle you to some discounts so try to plan early.
The same attractions can be found in the Hahajima Islands but they are still worth going to and doing because you get to do and see all these activities and beaches on a completely different remote island. Considering the number of beaches you can go to between these two main islands of the Ogasawara Islands, you might start feeling like your lost at sea. If ever you feel that way, just remember that it’s a good thing you’re lost in a beautiful part of the Pacific because that makes being lost very enjoyable and even forgettable at times.
Since these islands are pretty remote, you want to find a hotel or room to stay in overnight or for the duration of your stay here. There aren’t any luxurious hotels here because they do want to preserve its remoteness but that doesn’t mean that the accommodations found here are any less comfy stay in. Remember that you’ll only get electricity in the town area of these islands so make sure to charge your phones and cameras in case you want to take pictures of the amazing views and animals here.
The Price of the Ferry You’ll Need to the Ogasawara Islands and Directions on How to Get There If You Are Coming From Places like Tokyo or the Airport
The only way you can get to the Ogasawara Islands is a ferry that comes from Tokyo and goes straight to the Futami Port in the Chichijima Island. Since the public transportation in the mainland of Japan is awesome, you can easily find a way to Tokyo to get on the ship, whether you are coming from an airport or any other part of Japan. This trip takes a whole 24 hours to make so if you plan to go to the Ogasawara Islands, make sure that it is for a long time to maximize the fares you will have to pay.
The ferry you will get on is called the Ogasawara-mare Ferry and it offers different types of rooms or cabins and just like any mode of transport, the more deluxe your room or cabin is, the more expensive it is. The prices of the fares range from 22000 yen to 75000 yen per person and this is only for a one-way trip that might not be inclusive of tax yet. Don’t worry too much about the price of the trip because the ferry has a lot of facilities you can make use of within that 24-hour span you will be on it. Examples of such facilities are the likes of lounge areas, showers, restaurants, and more.
You should know that the Ogasawara-maru Ferry usually leaves just once a week from Tokyo but during the high season for these islands, these trips become as frequent as once every 3 days. Also, keep in mind that these ferries do not operate for 2 weeks during mid-January because this is when they conduct their annual inspection of their ships. These trips can also be delays due to reports of fuel problems or reports of bad weather like typhoons because of safety reasons so try to avoid the months wherein the storms become more frequent.
The Hahajima is only accessible through the Chichijima Island and you’ll have to board the Hahajima-maru Ferry to get there. This trip will cost you 5000 yen for a one-way trip and would cost you about 5000 yen. These ferries usually leave only once per day because it departs the Chichijima Island in the morning and returns in the afternoon so plan your activities accordingly.
With all this information on the table, you can clearly see that although these islands are remote, they contribute to Japan’s economy through the tourism it brings it. It isn’t as developed as the other parts in Japan but that is also the appeal it has because not a lot of places in the world are as untouched as these islands. It would be wise to plan every detail of your trip to these islands in advance to avoid any surcharge in prices and to ensure that you will be accommodated in all activities and places that you want to visit on your travel here.