The Izu Islands are a group of volcanic islands scattered over several hundred kilometers, stretching south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. All the islands are part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
Each of the islands has its unique character: Oshima is noted for its active volcano Mt. Mihara and camellias, Hachijojima for its former penal colony, Mikurajima for dolphin watching, Niijima for its numerous beaches, Shikinejima for its hot springs, Kozujima for its white sandy shores, and Miyakejima for the 2001 volcanic eruption.
Islands of Tokyo which includes Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands administratively are all part of Tokyo.
The largest and closest, Izu Oshima is about 108 kilometers away from Tokyo and 25 kilometers southeast of Izu Peninsula.
Flights from Tokyo take 30 minutes, while regular ferries take 6–8 hours and jetfoils make the route in about 2 hours. It is one of the popular tourist destinations, and makes a quick getaway especially for people in Tokyo.
Oshima is the largest of the Izu Islands. It takes about one hour to circle the Island by car. You can enjoy hiking, cycling, hot springs, and seafood in a recreational setting.
Visit the Oshima Tourism Association where you can get maps and pamphlets to take with you. They also will look after your luggage if you request. There are several restaurants nearby in Motomachi area, among which some require prior reservation.
While expensive, renting a car for a couple hours or a day is the best way to see the island. Rental bicycles are also available near Motomachi Port. With a circumference of about 50 kilometers, you cannot easily explore the Island by bicycle entirely, though. Oshima Buses operate between the main ferry ports in Okata and Motomachi and connect to the arrival and departure of the fast ferries.
Upon arrival of the ferry a bus departs for Gojinka Skyline, which also stops at the Oshima Onsen hotel. Buses from the ferry ports depart for the Gojinka Skyline on the hour. From Gojinka Skyline, it is a 40 minute walk to the caldera, which measures 300 meters in diameter and 200 meters in depth.
Mt. Mihara can be reached by several hiking trails. Izu Oshima is famous for the 758 meter high Mt. Mihara, an active volcano that its last major eruption was in 1986. Surrounded by a vast desert of lava, one can travel up to the rim and peer down into the brightly colored several-hundred meter drop. It is best to go on a clear day, as clouds can obscure your vision tremendously and make getting lost quite easy.
Izu-Oshima Museum of Volcanoes was established in 1990, after the 1986 eruption of Mt. Mihara.
The first floor of this large museum features the complete history of the last eruption and provides just enough English explanation to be able to follow the main thread.
The second floor is reserved for more general information about volcanoes with less English explanation, but many photographs from volcanoes worldwide. Admission is 500 yen.
A stretch of about 700 meters of cliffs that are the cross section of a volcanic stratum are visible along the inner side of the loop road at the southwestern side of the island.
If you are taking a bus from Motomachi Port, as you drive down the main road a giant Baumkuchen appears before your eyes.
Discovered by road construction crews in the 1950s, over 90 different layers of stratum are clearly visible.
The island's geological history is made obvious when one looks upon the layers of ash, interspersed by fault lines.
Habu Minato is a small harbor town that was carved out in the 1700's by a great tsunami. Inside is a traditional Japanese fishing village that never quite managed to catch up to modern times.
You can watch fishermen dragging in their latest catch here. You can also sample some of the finest sushi in Japan at the sushi restaurant.
There’s also a popular croquette shop. There are several overlooks that provide stunning panoramic views of the harbor along the main road.
At the Southeastern coast drive a little further down from Habu Port on the Oshima loop road and you’ll see Fudeshima Island sticking out of the ocean. It was named after the fact that it appears like the tip of a paintbrush.
Oshima is also home to varieties of Camellia "Tsubaki" plants. Oshima Park, famous for its world-record holding of Camellia, has over one hundred different varieties and is an excellent place to take a stroll especially from early February to late March when the camellia flowers are blooming.
Camellia oil pressed from seeds has been traditionally used in Japan for hair care.
Nowadays Camelia oil is used in popular hair and skin products that have become famous under the Oshima Tsubaki brand. The Tsubaki Oil Halal Products also are available online.
Izu Oshima Island Access
Transportation between the islands, by cargo-passengers boats, jetfoils, and aircraft, is supported by harbors on all inhabited islands and five airports (small islands can be reached by Helicopter).
By Jetfoils - Tokai Kisen operates a number of high speed boats called "jetfoils" which leave from Tokyo’s Takeshiba Sanbashi Ferry Terminal. The trip takes about two hours. Jetfoils also leave from Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture and take you to Oshima in about one hour.
By Regular Ferry - Alternatively, one may take the overnight ferry operated by Tokai Kisen.
These do not operate every night. The ferries in direction of Oshima run overnight, while the return journey is during the daytime.
The ship takes approximately 8 hours during the winter, and 6 during the summer.
All of the ships arrive in either Okata Port or Motomachi Port, depending on the weather and ocean conditions.
By Air - New Central Airservice operates three daily flights in each direction between Tokyo's Chofu Airport and Oshima Airport "takes about 30 minutes".
To get to Chofu Airport, take the Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to Chofu Station "takes 15 minutes" and take a bus to the airport "takes about 15 minutes".
All Nippon Airways "ANA" flies from Haneda Airport to Oshima in 35 minutes. The Izu Oshima airport is close to Motomachi Port.
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Izu Oshima Island - Izu Islands, Oshima Sub-prefecture, Tokyo