Japan’s Hidden Tropical Island: Aogashima

We usually think of Japan as four five major islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Cat Island) and the smattering of small islands of Okinawa. But in reality, Japan is tons of different islands of all sizes.

Case in point, I recently saw the picture above and was astounded to learn that it’s part of Japan. Say hello to the Japanese island of Aogashima.

Aogashima (“blue island”) is Jurassic Park the setting for “Battle Royale” a tropical, volcanic island in the Phillipine Sea. Despite being over 200 miles away from the country’s capital, Aogashima is governed by Tokyo. In fact, a whole stretch of tropical and sometimes uninhabited islands called the Izu Islands are technically part of Tokyo. Volcanic islands? Not typically what comes to mind when you think of Tokyo.

No matter where you go in Japan, there are always karaoke and perverted beer posters.

As you might imagine, Aogashima isn’t the most crowded place in the world. As of this year, only about 200 people live on Aogashima. The island only has one post office and one school.

There are two ways on and off the island: by helicopter or by boat. There’s only one, small harbor where the boats go in an out of, and it seems to be a little unreliable. Because Aogashima is so remote and isolated, it can sometimes be hard to get a boat to or from the island safely.

Fortunately, there’s a live video feed of the harbor that’s available on the island 24/7 (Jurassic-Park-style) so you can keep an eye on how bad the weather is without having to actually be at the harbor.

These creatures require our absence to survive, not our help. And if we could only step aside and trust in nature, life will find a way.

Bearing in mind how isolated Aogashima is, there’s not a whole lot to do on the island. The biggest attraction is Aogashima’s double volcano (all the way across the sky!). The island itself is a giant volcanic crater, and within that crater there’s another, smaller volcano. You can camp by the volcano or go to the volcanic hot springs on the island, but that’s pretty much it.

With so few attractions and such a tiny population, its nightlife might pale a little in comparison to Tokyo’s. The food’s probably not that great. There aren’t as many temples as in Kyoto. And you know what? Their internet probably sucks too. But that’s not why you go to Aogashima.

Even though I’ve never been personally, Aogashima seems like a great place to go to simply get away from it all. How often do you get the chance to visit such an beautiful, isolated place?

It’s also amazing to think about what it must be like to grow up and live in a place like Aogashima. I grew up in the suburbs of a pretty populated area, so the thought of living in a place so far removed from others is hard to imagine.

Check out Flickr user izuyan’s set of jaw-dropping pictures from Aogashima here. (Do yourself a favor and watch the slideshow in fullscreen: the pictures are gorgeous.)

And if you’re thinking about taking it one step further and actually visiting Aogashima, check out this write-up on Seek Japan or visit the island’s official site (JP).

P.S. Wish you could visit Aogashima? Tell us on Twitter.
P.P.S. Much prefer to stay on dry land? Check us out on Facebook or Google+.

  • Gerry Pearlberg

    I had a comparable “get away from it all” experience on Aka Jima a few weeks ago. Great beach-combing and sky-watching. Very restorative! Thanks for bringing this neat little island to my attention.

  • ko

    the place looks gorgeous. maybe a nice vacation spot…if you have the money haha.

  • Gerry Pearlberg

    I had a comparable “get away from it all” experience on Aka Jima a few weeks ago. Great beach-combing and sky-watching. Very restorative! Thanks for bringing this neat little island to my attention.

  • Gerry Pearlberg

    I had a comparable “get away from it all” experience on Aka Jima a few weeks ago. Great beach-combing and sky-watching. Very restorative! Thanks for bringing this neat little island to my attention.

  • larisajane

    Ah Battle Royal, I need to watch that again. Also kind of surprised Xzibit isn’t in the corner of a photo.. “Yo I heard you like Volcanoes…” :P

  • http://www.meow.fr Meow • Japan & Urbex

    Ohhhhh, this place looks really interesting! I’d love to have a 2 days trip there, to leave on beautiful day by helicopter and to come back by boat. Thanks for the information, it’s super!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    There were so many jokes I could have made with that picture! Xzibit, double rainbow, Inception…

    It was hard to choose. :((((

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    You definitely should go and write about it. BTW, love your site! :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, it’s definitely not a destination for the cheap traveler, but I think it’d be worth the money to check it out.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, it’s definitely not a destination for the cheap traveler, but I think it’d be worth the money to check it out.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    That sounds like it must’ve been fun!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    That sounds like it must’ve been fun!

  • http://www.meow.fr Meow • Japan & Urbex

    Thanks! But… did you like it on Facebook? Hahaha :p Yeah I should definitely go to this place and write a sweet story about it :p 

    Please keep-up with the fun daily articles on Tofugu, that’s really awesome what you do here! Don’t hesitate to use my photos if you need as well :)

  • Bruce Smith

    Looks like a great place to locate my top-secret base ! Bwahahahaha !

  • http://twitter.com/zoomingjapan zoomingjapan

    Yes, actually there are thousands of smaller islands, though most of them belong politically to prefectures on the main islands, like the one you introduced.
    I haven’t heard about this island yet, so thank you very much for the detailed information. I have added it to the places I still need to visit.

    Speaking of islands, I finally want to visit Yakushima (which belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture, although it’s quite far away from it and geographically an island on its own, of course). Princess Mononoke was inspired by the beautiful nature on that island.

    And one of these days I will conquer that damn cat island!!! Mwahaha~

  • http://twitter.com/stanndavis Stanley Davis

    Wow!! Thanks for sharing this. Truly a stunning island. If cash comes flowing this year, I’d probably try and make a stop there when I travel to Japan in 2012. For the time being, I will add various pictures from this island to my desktop wallpapers :D
    Nice post Hashi! 

  • http://twitter.com/Musouka Musouka

    Speaking of Islands, I visited Yakushima on November 9-11 and it was awesome (despite the fact it never stopped raining. After all, it rains 35 days a month there). While I’m not Hiking material, the Shiratani Unsuikyo is supposed to be fairly easy AND it has the Mononoke Hime trail! Sadly, because of the non-stop rain, the river’s level was too high to allow access :(

  • David Halmi

    stunning place, thanks for the post!
    btw. in its name, 青ヶ島, there is a “ke” character despite of “ga”. we need a post explaining this! :) something like “small ke and its friends – screwing up what you’ve already learnt about moras” ;)

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    It’d be the perfect place to trap your superhero nemesis. Like, for instance, Mr. Incredible…

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Oooh, visiting Yakushima would be a lot of fun. I had no idea that it inspired Princess Mononoke, very cool!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Thanks! Glad you liked it :)

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I’ve never been to Yakushima! I’m pretty jealous that you got to go, even if it was pouring rain the whole time :p

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Hahaha, those darn small kana, messing up everything! :p

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Thank you for the offer! I’ll let you know if we do end up using your photos

  • http://twitter.com/zoomingjapan zoomingjapan

    I always wanted to go, but it’s a bit far away anyways, but now that the Shinkansen between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Kagoshima has been set up properly it’s much easier to go there :)

  • Jennifer Cammarn

    Is it just me, or does that island look like the one in Final Fantasy VII where you get the Knights of the Round materia? Can you only reach this island via golden chocobo?

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Mind…. Blown….

  • http://twitter.com/izuyan izuyan

    Photographs used in that article, I have taken. Thanks for using. Even living in Japan, Aogashima is very difficult to arrive at the island. There is a beautiful and dynamic nature, people are friendly.

  • Debbie Buckingham

    THIS ILAND is amazing !!!! Would love to visit ,is there a Hotel , how often is fresh food brought in ? Do they have cows and chickens there ???

  • Iracamar

    sorry but… zombie survival island anyone?? I think so

  • http://conqueringtechnology.com/ Chris

    Looks like the perfect place to get away from it all ;)

  • Cleo

    this is how Atlantis vanished, isn’t it?

  • msbpodcast

    Hell no. Its where bioscience experiments went horribly wrong and created zombies… :-)

  • Markmors

    Captain Nemo’s base for the Nautilus

  • Jeffrey

    Pictures from this article have gone viral on Stumbleupon. If you get a weirdly high amount of traffic over the next couple days on this, that may be why.

  • http://www.facebook.com/virgil.e.dorsey Virgil E. Dorsey II

    I’D like to talk EVERYONE into leaving & live there all by my lonesome! Smiles!

  • krischermaine

    wow…this is amazing…I want to try to live there,,even for a year…

  • Inaripo

    I was lucky to have a home stay on yakushima so was there for 2 months. Heaven on earth. :-)

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    Meanwhile I’ve been to Yakushima, too! :)
    Wow, you consider 2 months on Yakushima to be heaven on earth?
    I thought it was very rural. I mean there’s nothing there, right?
    It’s great for visiting, but I wouldn’t want to live there!! ^-^;

  • pinkcatmints

    I went at the end of March this year (3 days 2 nights) and it was non-stop sunshine. Took an entire day of clear skies to convince my partner and I to take our rain gear off, but not a single drop of rain. (No leeches either ^ ^. )

  • R. Ali

    amazingly beautiful… but wouldn’t it be scary to live INSIDE a volcano? @__@

  • SaraWyatt

    Beautiful.
    *nerd glasses on* That’s not a “double volcano,” though. :3 That little guy inside the caldera is a cinder cone. He formed after the explosion that blew the lid off the volcano and left that big crater i.e. caldera. He’s basically left-overs that burped out at a later point. See Wizard Island to see what it would be like if this island’s caldera was filled with water.

  • MUFID

    If this is a hidden tropical island how can we see a photos of it :=)

  • docwatson

    Ground Zero on a volcano…. I’d have to think about that….

  • Dhanunjaya Naik

    Awesome place

  • jessica

    What is the perimeter and the area of this unique place?

  • colbster

    14.