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Oshima, Niijima and Kozushima: 3 Distinct Cultures of Tokyo Far from the City

Fancy sampling what island life has to offer? Take a short trip from Tokyo to experience what to see and do on three of the capital’s beautiful islands.

By 6 min read

With easy links to Tokyo, which administers them, the Izu Islands are the perfect getaway for anyone seeking an island experience. Each isle has its own unique appeal and many activities to keep guests entertained.

One way to enjoy a flavor of the archipelago is to visit three islands in one trip. Simply take the ferry from Takeshiba to Izu Oshima and then on to Niijima before a final stop at Kozushima, from where you can get a flight back to Chofu Airport in Tokyo.

1. Oshima, the volcanic island

Habu-port is the laid-back area in the south of Oshima.

Located 120 kilometers south of central Tokyo is the volcanic island Oshima, with Mount Mihara, a 758-meter-tall active volcano, at its heart.

With a rental car, you can circle the island in an hour and take in the numerous sites on offer, including layered volcanic cliffs, spectacular views from the summit and the laid-back area in the south known as habu-port, complete with traditional Japanese alleyways and scenes from years gone by.

Take a hike up Mount Mihara

The view from Mount Mihara.

There are several hiking trails up Mount Mihara. One is a gentle trail up the northern slopes, which takes about 45 minutes each way. Another, steeper trail departs from Miharayama Onsen and will take you one hour to reach the top. Once on the summit, you can circle the caldera and gain spectacular views of the island and the ocean.

After the hike, there’s nothing better than a soak in the open-air bath at Hama-no-yu (Open Air Hot Spa). Its position on the cliff edge boasts a spectacular panorama of the ocean below. It’s a mixed-gender hot spring so remember to bring your swimming wear. The cost is ¥300, and it’s open every day of the week.

Drive a buggy over volcanic desert

You can drive to the mini volcanic desert and have fun riding over the volcanic ash dunes.

If you’re looking for something more active, why not try a buggy tour. It’s possible to drive to the mini volcanic desert, where you can have fun riding up and over the volcanic ash dunes.

Quad bike rentals and tours are operated by BookTeaBed, which also has accommodation and a cafe. Check out their website for more information: https://bookteabed.com/ja/izuoshima/

Explore the camellia

If you happen to be visiting the island from late January to late March, check out the Tsubaki Festival.

No visit to Oshima is complete without a stop at Tsubaki-Hana Garden, home to over 400 varieties of tsubaki (camellia). During the flowering season, from January to March, they are a beautiful sight, and they are used to produce several items under the Oshima Tsubaki brand.

Suppose you happen to be visiting the island from late January to late March. Why not check out the Tsubaki Festival, which features many activities and exhibitions such as the Camellia Garden Illumination and a market selling locally produced camellia products.

2. Niijima, the diverse island

Niijima offers an abundance of activities, relaxation spots and culinary experiences.

Next up is Niijima, located 160 kilometers from Tokyo. Known for its distinctive green Niijima glass, amazing surfing and a specialty fish product known as kusaya, this island has the perfect balance of activities, relaxation spots and culinary experiences.

Surf’s up

Niijima has a beautiful coastline and top surf conditions and breaks.

With a beautiful coastline and top surf, it’s easy to see why Niijima has long held an annual professional surfing event. It takes place on the east side of the island on the seven-kilometer-long Habushiura Beach, known for top-class surfing and beach experiences.

Relax body and mind

If a slower pace is more your style, why not take a stroll along the beach to enjoy the coastal views or explore the various art sculptures situated around the island. Take a dip in the free open-air hot spring. A warm soak while overlooking the ocean is sure to leave you feeling refreshed.

Indoor craft time

Learn about the beautiful green glass produced on the island and try crafting something at the Niijima Glass Art Center.

There is the Niijima Glass Art Center and right next to it the Niijima Glass Art Museum (located in a building that looks like a work of art itself). You can not only learn about the beautiful olive green glass produced on the island but also try your hand at making a glass or engraving your own message or design on a pre-made item.

This is a great activity the family and can be booked through this website: http://www.niijimaglass.org/contents/center.html

Culinary delights

“Kusaya” might be a little difficult on the nose, but a visit to the factory to see how this culinary delight is made is worthwhile.

With such vast oceans surrounding the island, it’s no surprise that fish is the local delicacy, with an extensive range of beautiful fish served in all the local restaurants and inns. One popular fish dish here is kusaya (brined, sun-dried fish). Made using a 300-year-old preservation method, this fish tastes and smells like nothing you will ever have experienced.

Kusaya might be a little difficult on the nose, but a visit to the factory to see how this culinary delight is made is worthwhile. To arrange a tour of the factory or visit the shop where you can purchase kusaya, check this website: https://niijimakusaya.com/

3. Kozushima, the oceanphile’s island

Everyone takes it easy at Kozushima.

Diver’s paradise

The final stop on the island-hop is the island of Kozushima, 22 kilometers in circumference. This place is every diver’s dream location, blessed with gorgeous white sand beaches and beautiful blue waters teeming with aquatic life.

The island is geared to welcome experienced divers or first-timers with tours, courses and equipment hire. One option is Aqua Mate Diving Club, which offers its services in Japanese and English and can provide any equipment you might need.

Best spot to take a plunge

Kozushima has some of the perfect places to unwind and reel in, like this secluded fishing spot.

Located on the island’s northwest is the 500-meter long Akasaki promenade, which makes for a lovely walking experience. This wooden structure is designed for swimming, with high and low platforms. It’s the ideal place to dive into the pristine, calm waters to discover the plentiful fish and corals.

Catch some big fish

Fishing is another favorite pastime on the island. Anglers from near and far can be seen enjoying the thrill of reeling in their catch, either from land or by boat, from the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island. Fishing tours and fishing rod rentals are available from a few fishing, tackle and bait shops on the island. Just make sure to avoid fishing in prohibited areas. If in doubt, look for signs or ask at the shop where you hired equipment.

Visit the Kozushima Tourism Association website for more information about fishing on the island.

To return to Tokyo, you can choose from a direct ferry or a 19-seater plane that takes 45 minutes and arrives at Chofu airport.

All three islands are undoubtedly worth a single visit, but traveling to all three in one trip is a great way to experience their different cultures and activities if you can spare the time—four days and three nights is the perfect length of time to savor their delights.

Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government “Tokyo Treasure Islands Project” official website for more information.

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