Izu Oshima despite being the largest island of Izu archipelago in the Tokyo prefecture hosts a meager population of around 8000 people. It is almost 91 square kilometers in terms of area, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say every kilometer is worth seeing. Recently, the author went on a lab trip with some friends of mine to this unexplored area of Tokyo. It is better to make a reservation in any hotel you like in advance for one night to make sure they have the rooms available for you. We decided to stay at the Akamon hotel. They provide some of the delicious seafood you would have in your life time. Also, they have indoor and outdoor hot springs to relax your body. There are other options available too. Oshima Onsen hotel for example is nearer to Mount Mihara but can be expensive at the same time. So, it is better to look for hotels that your pocket allows.
Back to the island itself, it is not anything like what we imagine it, being a part of Tokyo, would be. In fact, it would be astounding for many of you to know that it has no convenience stores, no big buildings and no crowded streets. But, what makes this site intriguing is nature. Nature that blooms in every corner of this island.
It is located at about 100 kilometers on South of Tokyo which is more or less 2 hours of high speed ferry ride from the JR Hamamatsucho station. There are other ways to get there. Such as a slow ferry or you can even travel by air. But the best would be to see Tokyo from the sea, gradually moving away from the big buildings. Inching towards this naturally scenic place.
There are two main ways to explore this beautiful island. If you think you have it in you to rent a bike and ride on a series of uphill and downhill roads, go for it. The other option for people lazy like me is to rent a car. Do consider the weather as it would play a crucial role in what kind of wheels you would like to choose for yourself.
Consider visiting a desert, a beach and a mountain – that too and active volcano – at the same location. All of this tied in a small area of 91 square kilometers.
There are many places to explore in this untapped Island. I am mentioning only a few.
Let’s start with what makes this piece of land very special – a 758 meters high active volcano mountain. Mount Mihara is supposed to erupt every 100-150 years, which erupted last time in 1990. It is always nice to go on a hike but ever wondered how it is to hike an active volcano? Well, it is fun. You basically pass in between the mercurial volcano soil, see different kinds of flowers popping out with their bright colors in front of dark background and obviously other picturesque spots in between the trail.
Picture taken by author during the mountain hike
Picture taken by author during the mountain hike
While you are hiking mount Mihara you can find this one and only black desert in Japan. What makes it special is how its black sand dunes resemble with the moon surface. Some people argue that this is the only desert of Japan. Yes, Tottori Sakyu is no more than conventional looking sand dunes is what they say. If you are hiking Mount Mihara, it is a must to see this desert. It is better to wear proper shows as the loose volcanic soil might make its way inside and hurt your feet.
After a tiring hike your muscles deserve a relaxing environment. What’s better than a natural onsen? Though the volcano, if erupts, would create a lot of mess as it did in 1986 when people had to evacuate the Island as lava started flowing down the slope. But, at the same time it provides perks like a natural onsen. Filled with the right of amounts of natural minerals for your skin and the temperature to relax your muscular tissues, Miharayama Onsen is a place you should add if you go to Izu Oshima Island.
If you are like me who has never seen a beach with black soil, I am quite sure you would spend most of your time taking photos there because of how beautiful this place looks. The place is peaceful and clean unlike other beaches which are crowded all year long and end up being littered. If you are like some of my friends, you probably would like to dive in for a little swim. Or might end up soaking each other with the salty sea water. There is nothing wrong in being a kid every now and then.
Motomachi Hama hot spring, commonly known as Hama-no-yu, is unequivocally one of the finest onsen experiences because it’s natural and provides a scenic sunset view that none other onsens can. The visitors must pay a fee of 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for children. It is recommended to take your swimsuit with you since it’s a mixed onsen, but you can also rent one there.
This stratigraphic cross section showcases the nature and its wonder in a unique way. You can see the layers of soil compressing the other one which probably took thousands of years to form. It resembles the famous German cake and is must see site when visiting the Island.
My two cents:
If you are here in Tokyo and have already seen all the places and would like to explore a place that even several Japanese people themselves haven’t, this place is for you. You can immerse yourself in this all-natural experience. Also, if photography is something you would like to do, believe me, you shouldn’t miss this.