The small island of Aogashima features a nice green scenery and beautiful cliffs all around. As it is 358 km (222 ms) away from the city of Tokyo, you might feel this is an isolated island even though you can see some of the other islands such as Hachijojima. There is no tourist resort on the island and about 160 people lead a quiet peaceful life on this small island. Below, you can read about the island’s most popular sightseeing places, your best options for getting there, and what to watch out for when you visit.
Table of Contents
1. The things you need to know before making plans are
2. Sightseeing and Activities
3. Local dishes of Aogashima
4. Special Products of Aogashima
5. Making a plan for your Aogashima trip (access, accommodation, transportation)
The things you need to know before making plans are
If you decide to visit Aogashima, there are several things you need to do before going.
●You MUST book an accommodation or
campsite (The campsite on Aogashima is closed in order to prevent spread of COVID-19)
If you don’t book any accommodation beforehand, you can’t visit the island. Please make sure to book your stay. Here you can find more information about accommodation.
●Check the schedule of the ferry service
If you want to visit Aogashima by boat, please check the schedule in advance. The ferry does not operate every day. The daily schedule is decided at 7am.
●There is only 1 shop and 2 Izakayas
It is not easy to go shopping on Aogashima as there is only 1 shop. If you want to buy any souvenirs this is the place. Also there are 2 Japanese type bars (Izakaya) on the island. Smoking inside is allowed and compared to the mainland these places are a bit pricey. Please make sure you bring cash here. Finally, there are no convenience stores on the island.
You need to bring cash as credit cards or debit cards will not be accepted.
●You better speak some Japanese
Since there are only 160 people living on the island, there are not that many people who can speak English (or any other non-Japanese languages for that matter.) It is difficult to communicate so please use a translation app, it is even better to speak Japanese or bring someone who can speak Japanese.
2. Main Sightseeing and Activities
As the island only has a few inhabitants there are not that many attractions. Nature however is beautiful and lush and definitely worth seeing.
This is a map of Aogashima. Please check it out when you go around.
Volcano with a double caldera structure
The most popular feature on Aogashima island is its volcano with a double caldera structure. There are only a few kinds of volcanoes like this in the world and here is your chance to see one. The Outer ring mountain is called Ootonbu（大凸部) and The inner ring mountain is called Mt. Maruyama（丸山）.
The best view of the volcano with a double caldera structure- Ootonbu Park
This is the highest vantage point on Aogashima island and one of the best places from where to look down onto the volcano. You can get there by car, or on foot even, within minutes from the rural community and there you will find a Torii gate from the Toudaisho Shrine. When climbing the stairs beside the Torii gate, you can get a good view of the trees and moss growing alongside it until you arrive at the top of Ootonbu Park. If you want to have your picture taken with the volcano as a backdrop, this would be the best place for it.
View of the volcano with a double caldera structure and the horizon- Oyama observatory park
Another place where you can have a good look at the volcano to see is the Oyama observatory park. It takes only 7-10 mins from the promenade entrance to go up to the observatory park. You can not only see the volcano but also Hachijojima beyond the sea. Also, check out the sculpture of the pan‐Pacific zone.
Mount Maruyama is part of the volcano which looks a bit like bavarian cream. You can walk all around this small mountain ridge within 60 minutes. As you can gather, there are not that many people who walk this mountain, so the nature here is lush and beautiful.
Oyama observatory park
As you may know, Aogashima Island is one of the best places for stargazing in Japan. The island has a clear sky and very little artificial light. The place where the stars are especially visible on the island is Oyama Observatory park. You might see Canopus (which is also known as the star of longevity) from here.
Ikenosawa is an area on the inside of the volcano with a double caldera structure. This place is also very good for stargazing. There are several places where volcanic fumes rise up from the western slopes of Maruyama, and the geothermal heat(Hingya) and warmth of the area make for a pleasant place to lie down and look at the stars. The combination of seeing both the volcano and countless stars is super rare. There is a lush forest that stretches over a lava plateau.
Joman is the northernmost point of Aogashima. Grassy knowls all over and you might even see some whales from here in winter. You also don’t want to miss the small cattle farm in Joman. Again, a good place for stargazing with a clear sky and little artificial light.
Cooking Lunch by Geothermal kettle
If you come to Aogashima, we strongly recommend to order your 3 daily meals at your accommodation as there are no restaurants on the island. When you order lunch at an accommodation, ingredients can be provided for cooking by geothermal kettle, right next to the facility at Ikenosawa called Fureai Sauna. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare eggs and 40 minutes for potatoes using the geothermal steam. There is a gazebo which is close to the geothermal kettle and there is also a vending machine at the Furea Sauna.
Natural sauna- Fureai Sauna
The sauna in Ikenosawa area makes use of the natural geothermals with steam. The opening hours are limited. Open from 4pm to 8pm (Last entry by 7pm) on weekdays and from 2pm to 8pm(Last entry by 7pm) on weekends. Also it is closed on the first, third and fifth Wednesday. Also, the bath it is really hot because of HINGYA so you need to add cold water to adjust the temperature. Soap and shampoo is available on site.
The red color shrine- Toudaisho Shrine（東台所神社）
After passing the sculpture of Oyama observatory park keep going straight and you will find the red color shrine in the woods. The small torii gates have collapsed and the atmosphere is rather mysterious. There are very steep stone steps leading from the entrance to Ootonbu, the highest point of the island. Those used to be the approach to the shrine. Before the trail along the ridge was built, people used the steep stone steps to pray.
Enjoy the spectacular view of the ocean – Kompira Shrine（金毘羅神社）
At the back of the heliport, there is a small shrine in the woods named Kompira shrine. There are 4 deities enshrined here where one can pray for the safety of ship traffic. Go through the grass tunnel in order to reach the shrine. As you enter a side street from the pathway, you’ll find a temple dedicated to a myriad of gods, which leads you to a place overlooking the sea.
When you walk around Aogashima, you might find some plants which you have never seen before. Let’s check them out! Just for your information, even though they are special, please DON’T collect them as we wouldn’t want them to become endangered species.
Otani watari(Endangered species)
Otani watari is seen across warm regions from southern Japan to Taiwan. It is a plant designated as being endangered. You can find it in the Ikenosawa area. Large ferns grow from collecting fallen leaves and rainwater in the center of its leaves to create humus.
Ashitaba is a kind of leaf from the family Seriacea which grows on the Izu Islands. Ashitaba tempura, Ashitaba fried rice, Ashitaba dressed sesame seeds sauce, Ashitaba miso soup or boiled Ashitaba etc…. There are many ways to eat Ashitaba.
Oshima zakura(Cherry Blossom)
Oshima zakura is one kind of cherry blossom and Japanese endemic species. It blooms from the end of March to April and its flowers bloom at the same time as the leaves develop. Its mother species is Somei Yoshino cherry tree which is the most famous cherry blossom.
Sakuyuri is one kind of lily and the Izu Islands’ endemic species. Its flowering season is in July.
Gaku Ajisai belongs to the hydrangea family and is one of Japanese endemic species. Its flowering season is from May to July.
3. Local dishes of Aogashima
Here is an overview of local dishes available on Aogashima.
Shima zushi an authentic local dish from Hachijojima. This is local Sushi with the local low fish is marinated by special sauce including soy sauce and put mustard on it.
4. Special Products of Aogashima
If you’d like a souvenir from Aogashima please consider these:
Salt of Hingya（ひんぎゃの塩）
This is a hand-made and 100% natural sea salt which is made at the facility inside the volcano, Ikenosawa on Aogashima. It takes about a month to distill the product from seawater. The geothermal energy and steam from the volcanoes heat the seawater and slowly and surely produce salt. Only 160~180kg of salt can be made out of 3,000L of seawater. It is a very rare salt indeed.
Aochu- Shochu of Aogashima (Tasting sessions)
Aochu is the original brand of sweet potato Shochu in Aogashima. There are several main brewers because originally, it used to be liquor made at home that the wife prepared for her husband. The tastes vary depending on the brewer or the year of manufacture. Please find your favorite one by trying all of them! Tasting sessions are arranged from 6:00pm at the Aochu brewery. (Only in Japanese, Reservation required ＋81-90-8842-1503）
5. Planning your Aogashima trip (Access, accommodation and transportation)
You cannot travel to Aogashima if you do not have a reservation at one of the island’s guest houses or campgrounds. Please be sure to confirm your accommodation before you go to Aogashima.
You can visit Aogashima Island by an ocean liner(passenger ship) or helicopter (both from Hachijojima). There are no direct flights or ferry rides to Aogashima from Tokyo or anywhere else. You need to travel via Hachijojima.
*If possible, tourists are encouraged to use the ferry. Helicopters have few seats and are often used by islanders in emergencies.
Ferry from Hachijojima
There is a ferry between Hachijojima and Aogashima. The ship does one round trip a day and there are four to five flights a week. A one way trip takes 3 hours and half.
Here are the advantages of using the boat from Hachijojima.
You don’t need to book a ticket in advance
It’s much cheaper than traveling by helicopter, one way is less than 3,000 yen.
On the other hand, there are a number of disadvantages when taking the boat from Hachijojima.
The service rate is 50-60%. You might not be able to reach Aogashima or come back to Hachijojima on the time or date of your choosing.
People who are prone to seasickness should bring some medicine. Which is hard to come by on the islands.
A one way trip takes 3 hours and half.
Departure for each day is determined at 7:00am in the morning, also the fee is changed every month because of fuel rates.
The schedule of the boat between Hachijojima and Aogashima http://www.vill.aogashima.tokyo.jp/access/aogashima_operating_list.pdf
If you want to know the service status, call 04996-9-0033
Helicopter from Hachijojima
The other option involves using a helicopter.
Here are the advantages of flying by helicopter from Hachijojima.
A one way trip only last 20 minutes
The service rate is more than 80% and it works year round.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to using the helicopter.
It costs 11,750 yen for a one way trip, so almost triple times the fee of a boat ride.
There are only 9 seats available and the flight is booked up full quickly.
Reservations are accepted from the same day one month before departure. Reservations can be made between 9am to 4pm on the phone or over the internet.
* Check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.
* Baggage exceeding 5kg will be charged an extra fee of 230 yen per kg. In addition, large luggage that cannot enter the luggage compartment cannot be loaded. Please contact Toho Airlines in advance.
Other inquiries: 04996-2-5200
There are 6 japanese inns and there is 1 campsite. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that can speak English so in case you want to place a reservation we recommend you ask someone who can speak Japanese to do it for you.
Here is the list of accommodations: http://www.vill.aogashima.tokyo.jp/tourism/stay.html (Japanese Only)
Campsite The campsite on Aogashima is closed in order to prevent spread of COVID-19
Yes, there is a campsite on Aogashima, if you want to experience sleeping close to nature then this is the place for you. There is a field kitchen, tap water (which you can’t DRINK) and a washroom. You need to register in advance and there are some rules to abide by as well.
How to register
Please make a reservation by the day before you arrive. No reservations will be made on the day itself.
(Reservations cannot be made during weekends and holidays. If the previous day is either a weekend of holiday, a reservation is required on weekdays, such as two days before that day.)
Place a reservation by e-mail:email@example.com
|Title: 「青ヶ島村キャンプ場利用予約申請」(Please copy and paste)
Round-trip transportation: Outbound- Aogashima-maru ship, Inbound- Helicopter
Representative’s full name: Mark Aogashima
Number of users: 4 people in total
phone number: xxx-xxxx-xxxx
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
|・Please cooperate to make all users feel comfortable.
・ After 10:00 pm please be quiet. (Be considerate to other sleeping customers and children)
・ No loud noises or fireworks are allowed.
・ We are not responsible for any damage caused by theft or other items nor for disagreements between guests.
・It is forbidden to sleep in village facilities without permission when you already booked a place at the camping site.
・ Do not throw large amounts of garbage into the sauna toilet.
・ If the weather is expected to deteriorate and you are unable to cope with these conditions please vacate the site.
・ Please make sure you have booked your accommodation before coming to the island.
Before you stay
|・ Setting up a tent outside of the campsite is prohibited.
・ Use of the campsite is one week at most. This cannot be extended.
・ If it is determined that the site cannot be used safely due to weather conditions, the campsite may be closed. Follow the instructions of the administrator. If you do not follow the instructions, you may be asked to leave the premises at any time, and you may be refused entry next time.
・ The boat service does not run daily. Depending on the weather, you may not be able to return for several days. Please make reservations for accommodation and transportation planned accordingly.
・ Please make use of the facilities in a sanitary way and only use common areas (water places, toilets, etc.).
・ There is no drinking water in the Ikenosawa area where the campsite, sauna and geothermal kiln are located. Please bring enough water along. It is also possible to fill up water bottles using the water supply which is in front of the government office.
・ You are unlikely to find anyone who can communicate in English on the island, please bring an interpreter in case you cannot speak Japanese.
Relevant information concerning the camping site, please check http://www.vill.aogashima.tokyo.jp/tourism/stay.html (Japanese Only)
Transportation on the island
There is a rental car shop on Aogashima. You will need an International driving licence.
Aogashima Rental car: https://www.aogashimaseibi.jp/ or 04996-9-0088(Japanese only)
|small vehicle for 4 people: 4000yen/8 hours~
standard-sized automobile for 5 people: 5000yen/8hours~
standard-sized automobile for 10 people: 8000yen/8hours~
*Please return vehicle with full tank. The gas station can be found next to the car rental reception area.
**If you have not booked a stay at any accommodation on Aogashima, you are not allowed to rent a vehicle due to the island safety regulations. Vehicles cannot be rented for camping.