Exploring Japan’s Remote Islands
Japan is an island nation composed of approximately 6,800 islands, including Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and the main island of Okinawa. While Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa are considered the main islands, the rest are referred to as remote islands.
Remote islands in Japan come with various unique features, offering picturesque landscapes and diverse experiences. Spending time on these remote islands can make your trip in Japan even more captivating.
Among Japan’s remote islands, there are some with distinctive characteristics that make them particularly interesting for travelers. These include islands recognized as World Heritage Sites, islands where you can interact with animals, and islands with abandoned ruins. Let’s explore four such islands: Okunoshima, an island popular for animal encounters; Hashima (Gunkanjima), a World Cultural Heritage Site located in Nagasaki Prefecture; Tomogashima, known for its historical fortifications and anime pilgrimage site; and Sarushima, an easily accessible day trip destination from Tokyo.
Things to Consider When Traveling to Remote Islands
Japan, despite being a small island nation, experiences distinct seasons, and its climate varies from north to south. When planning a trip to remote islands, you need to consider the season of your visit, your purpose, transportation routes, and accommodation availability, which may require more attention compared to traveling to urban areas.
1:Confirm Accommodation Availability
Even on islands with accommodation options, it’s generally essential to make advance reservations. Some islands may not allow landing, or they may lack lodging facilities, so be cautious and plan ahead.
2:Verify Transportation Routes
Since traveling to remote islands typically involves boat transportation, it’s important to consider that weather conditions and seasons may affect ferry services. Always check the accessibility to the island and return route in advance.
Hiroshima Prefecture – Okunoshima Island
Okunoshima Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Prefecture, is popular among women as the “Rabbit Island.” Visitors come here not only to be comforted by the adorable rabbits but also to enjoy activities such as camping and cycling.
|Highligts||Designated as a national park and home to approximately 500-600 adorable rabbits, it is popularly known as the “Rabbit Island.|
〒729-2311 Hiroshima Prefecture, Takehara City, Chuocho, Okunoshima Phone: 0846-26-0321 (Okunoshima Kanko Hotel, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
|Access||Hiroshima Airport → Takehara Station (JR Kure Line) → Tadanoumi Station → Tadanoumi Port (Ferry) → Okunoshima Island|
|Nearby Sightseeing Spots||Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Atomic Bomb Dome), Itsukushima Shrine|
|Internet Environment||No WiFi|
|Accommodation||Vacation Resorts Okunoshima Island（Only one accommodation option on the island）|
Gunkanjima (Hashima): Nagasaki Prefecture
Gunkanjima, also known as Hashima, is the common name for Hashima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Flourishing as an undersea coal mine from the Meiji era to the Showa era, it closed in 1974 and has since become an uninhabited island with abandoned coal mining facilities.
There are guided tours available to experience Gunkanjima, and access to the island requires participation in tours organized by ferry companies.
|Highlights||Remote island with ruins listed as a World Heritage Site|
851-1315 Hashima, Takashima-cho, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan TEL: 095-829-1426 (Nagasaki City Tourism and Exchange Promotion Office)
|Access||Take a ferry tour from Nagasaki Port to Gunkanjima (Hashima), which takes approximately 40 minutes.|
|Nearby Sightseeing Spots||Glover Garden, Oura Tenshudo (Oura Catholic Church)|
|Internet Access||No WiFi available|
|Accommodation||There are no accommodations on Hashima Island.|
Wakayama Prefecture – Tomogashima
Tomogashima, located in Wakayama Prefecture, refers to a group of four islands: Chishima, Torajima, Kanashima, and Okinoshima. In the Meiji era, these islands were equipped with fortifications to protect Osaka Bay.
Okinoshima is scattered with remnants of brick fortifications, which not only hold allure as ruins but are also popular among anime enthusiasts as a place where you can experience the world of “Castle in the Sky,” directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Starting in April 2022, Tomogashima has gained attention as a sacred place from the anime “Summer Time Render.”
Please note that visiting Tomogashima may require a boat tour, and it is essential to check the tour availability and details in advance.
|Highlights||Historical ruins (turrets), nature and the sea.|
|Access||From JR or Nankai Wakayama City Station, take a train to Kada Port (Tomogashima Kisen), and then take a ferry to Tomogashima.|
|Nearby Sightseeing Spots||Wakayama Castle, Marina City|
Kanagawa Prefecture – Sarushima
The island once served as a defense stronghold for Tokyo Bay, featuring artillery batteries and ammunition depots, which now stand as historical relics to explore. Additionally, the island boasts brick buildings constructed in the French style, adding to its appeal.
Sarushima offers daily guided tours for exploring the uninhabited island, allowing visitors to experience its natural beauty and historical significance.
|Highlights||The appeal of this area is that you can enjoy the ocean and nature in a day trip from Tokyo.|
|Address||1 Sashima, Yokosuka-shi, Yokosuka 238-0019|
|Access||(1) A 15-minute walk from Keikyu Yokosuka Chuo Station to Mikasa Pier. (2) A 30-minute walk from JR Yokosuka Station to Mikasa Pier. Purchase your ferry tickets at the Mikasa Terminal “Sarushima Visitor Center.”|
|Nearby Sightseeing Spots||YOKOSUKA Military Port Tour and Tokyo Bay Sea Fortress Tourism Organization|
＊Coming Soon: Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine) and Naoshima