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(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands - Abundant coral reefs and tropical fish in a clear sea

The Ogasawara Islands (小笠原諸島 Ogasawara Shotō) is the general term for 30 islands of various size scattered over the Pacific Ocean. They were known as the Bonin Island, about 1000 kilometers south and administratively part of Tokyo. Located to the south of the Izu Islands, they are made up of three groups of islands. The first group is the Ogasawara Archipelago consisting of Muko-jima, Chichi-jima and Haha-jima islands. The second group is made up of the Io Islands and three other islands. Nishi-no-shima, Minani-tori-shima, and Oki-no-shima islands belong to the third group. The whole area forms a part of Ogasawara National Park.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

The islands were formed by the protrusions of an ancient underwater volcano, so flatlands are rare and there are many sheer cliffs along the coast. Since the climate is oceanic and subtropical, there is little change in temperature, and the area hardly ever receives snow or frost.

Since the Ogasawara Islands have always been remote, never being adjacent to a continent since they were formed, animals and plants have evolved in their own way there. There are over 100 kinds of indigenous plants and more than 14 kinds of animals that are native to the islands, such as the Ogasawara damselfly, all designated as protected species.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
Chichi-jima Island, the main island and the entrance to the area, is 1,000 kilometers south of downtown Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, and it has a land area of about 24 square kilometers. Water-eroded high cliffs surround the island making the scenery even more magnificent, and the area is a popular spot for divers. The seawater around Hyotan-jima, Minami-jima and Hira-shima islands, all belonging to the Ogasawara Archipelago, has very high clarity and the sea is full of coral reefs and tropical fish. The area forms a part of Ogasawara-kaichu-koen Sea Park.

How to get in
There are no airports in the islands, so transportation is limited to the Ogasawara Kaiun ferry, the Ogasawara Maru, departing from Takeshiba, Tokyo to Chichijima. The ferry runs every three days in each direction and takes 25.5 hours one way in good weather, but longer if the sea is rough (and it often is). Please note that in bad weather the Ogasawara Maru travels at a slower speed and thus arrives at the destination late. As a result, many tourists have missed connecting trains and flights. Be sure to purchase travel insurance and to schedule your travel itinerary to compensate for this unpredictable event. One-way tickets start from ¥29,250 for second class tickets.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
There is only one way to get to Iwo Jima and that is through the Military Historical Tours, which have been granted exclusive rights to conduct tours of the island.

How to get around

A public bus runs around Chichijima several times daily, connecting most points of interest. Single fare ¥300.

Chichijima Taxi will chauffeur you anywhere on the island via air conditioned car. Chichijima Taxi, as well as numerous other companies on the island, rent 50cc mopeds to drivers with a Japanese driver's license. Seibi Kojo rents large vans and passenger cars at reasonable prices. Bicycles can be rented at many guest houses (or used for free in some cases). Additionally, some guest house owners will lend their automobile to guests.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
The Hahajima-maru, operated by Izushoto Kaihatsu, runs between Chichijima and Hahajima roughly every other day, with services timed to meet the ferry to/from the mainland. The trip takes about two hours.

There is no regular service to any of the other islands, although the Mukojima group to the north of Chichijima is occasionally visited by charters. World War II sites like Iwo Jima are dangerous due to unexploded ordinance and thus off limits without a permit.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

What to see there
The most famous spot in Ogasawara is Minamijima. There, you can see a very beautiful arch over a turquoise blue lagoon. You can often see rare birds, including the ahodori, or albatross.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
Another famous location is Kominato Beach. You can see a white sand beach and stunning limestone rock formations.

Anijima is a nice spot. You can go fishing in Cabbage Beach. Cabbage Beach has many tropical fish.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
Weatherstation is a beautiful spot where you can look at a beautiful sunset!

In the flat fields behind Mount Suribachi, you will find the ruins of an airfield assaulted by Allied Shermans during the Battle of Iwo Jima, plus burned out bunkers lying on hillsides or in the ground.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

Things to do there
- Whale watching
- Scuba diving
- Dolphin swimming
- Snorkeling
- Sport Fishing
- Trekking

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

There are many well marked and maintained trails in Ogasawara. On Chichijima, the Ogiura-Yuhodo Trail is newly opened in 2011. The starting point is Ogiura Beach, and the trail encounters a tunnel constructed during World War II by Japan for use on a war road. Next, the trail crosses a small river before arriving at the Renju Dam.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

The trail follows an old road from before World War II that was used by the people to travel between their farms and town. The trail next takes us to Tengunohama Viewpoint, where you can see Futami Bay, Ogiura Beach and Yagiyama. Following the trail, you arrive next at Renju Dam Viewpoint, where you can see Renju Dam and the entire valley. The trail continues up into the forest where the trees are high and wet. If you are lucky, then you may see Chichijima's endemic pigeon and endemic fruit bat.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
-  Swimming and Snorkeling

Boasting many beautiful beaches, Chichijima offers plenty of opportunities to get in the water.
+ Sakaiura Beach has a shipwreck and many beautiful fish. Also, sunset is very beautiful from Sakaiura.
+ Aotodai is very exciting and popular with young people and locals.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands

- Sea Kayaking
- Outrigger Canoeing
- Water Skiing and Wake boarding
- Windsurfing
- Surfing
- Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
SUP is quickly becoming a popular pastime in Chichijima. During whale season, you can go whale watching on a stand up paddleboard. Also, bring snorkel equipment to enjoy beautiful underwater viewing.

- Traditional Crafts
Takanohazaiku is a traditional island craft using the boiled leaves of the Tako tree. You can make many items from the woven leaves: bracelets, bags, rings, boxes, photo frames and charms. Asuka Craft sells these items and the owner of the craft show will kindly show you how to make them.

- Organic Farming
- Nature Conservancy
- Bird Watching
- Photography

Food to eat there
Tetsuya has Japanese cuisine. Although they do not have a menu because they have a set course, their cuisine is satisfying and delicious - an islanders' favorite! Don't forget to make a reservation before you get there. Tetsuya is near Kominato Beach. It is difficult to walk there, and if you walk, it takes about 1 hour.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
Buono Horizon This restaurant serves Italian cuisine. They have delicious handmade pizza and pasta. If you have a date with an important person, you should go there.

Gorosuke is a “hole in the wall” shop. Gorosuke only serves bento, or boxed lunches. Gorosuke is popular because you can get a big bowl of food for a very reasonable price. Gorosuke is known for it’s Papaya Curry, which is rich, spicy, and served with a huge heap of rice.

While it might be seen as ethically problematic, you can sample sea turtle in Ogasawara. Turtle meat is a traditional island food that dates back to the early 19th Century when the island was first settled. It is considered a delicacy and in no way is prohibited under Japanese law. There are two dishes made with sea turtle meat. Kame sashimi (Turtle Sashimi) is raw meat served chilled with wasabi and soy sauce. Kame stew is preferred in the winter months where it is served hot in a light broth. Turtle meat dishes can be found at many restaurants, most notably at Kanza, Fukuchan and Como. Additionally, turtle products (canned turtle meat, turtle eggs) can be purchased at both of Chichijima's major grocery stores (Super Koiwai and Seikyo).

Shimazushi is the traditional island sushi. It is made from the sawara fish (wahoo in English). Sawara is sliced and lightly marinated in soy sauce. Instead of using wasabi, a dab of spicy mustard is placed under the sliced sawara and then rested on a bed of sushi rice. This traditional island sushi migrated to the Ogasawara island from Hachijojima in the 19th century, when natives from Hachijojima were sent to Ogasawara to form a colony in order to strengthen Japan's claim on the Ogasawara islands.

(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
(Japan) – Ogasawara Islands
Try the local island sushi as well, it's made from katsuo tuna and served with soy sauce and pickles.

What to drink there
Yankee Town has a unique style. Yankee Town has a barbecue pit that can be used by a large group of people. The owner of Yankee Town has many interesting stories about the island. Yankee Town is known for its Pina Colada. Sometimes, Yankee Town has live concerts featuring local musicians.

There are only two main streets in downtown Chichi Jima, both having several comparably priced bars.

How to sleep there
Before choosing an accommodation, please consider what kind of accommodation you prefer.
There are 2 hotels and many minshuku, which are Japanese-style bed and breakfasts.
Before booking, consider the following:

-  Decide whether you will eat meals at your accommodation or not. Many minshuku can provide meals for their customers.
- Consider whether or not you would like a private bathroom. There are not so many accommodations that have private bathrooms for each room.
- Credit cards are not accepted for payment at almost all accommodations.
Once you have considered these options, please contact the Ogasawara Tourist Association. They will give you the telephone number of the accommodation that will fit your request!
Be aware that there are about ten minshuku and a youth hostel in Hahajima. If you would like to stay in Hahajima, you need to contact the minshuku beforehand as they might be full.

Hotels in Chichijima

Horizon Hotel Location: Ougiira
Papa's Island Resort Location: Nishimachi
Chichijima View Hotel Location: Higashimachi When you get off the Ogasawara Maru, you can find this hotel. This hotel has rooms with bathrooms.

Minshuku/Bed and Breakfasts in Chichijima:

Nadowado Location: Miyanohama

Apartment Style Accommodations:

Additional Accommodations:
Ogasawara Youth Hostel
(Wiki, Jinto)

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