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, wait no, the setting for “Battle Royale,” wait wait, I got this. A tropical, volcanic island in the Philippine 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.
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.
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.)