Kozushima, an island with great nature, remarkably cobalt blue sea, and snow white mountains. Just a 45 minutes flight from Tokyo, or 4 hours by jet boat, and 12 hours by large passenger boat. This rich island, located south of Tokyo, condenses all the beauties of Japan – mountain, sea, hot springs (onsen), seafood, and delectable shochu (a type of Japanese alcohol typically distilled from sweet potatoes). In this Kozushima Japan guide we’ll be sharing some of the best spots to check out on Kozushima, as well as practical information about access and accommodation.
Must-see spots for Kozushima
Kozushima is home to breathtaking mountains and sea – there’s even an open air hot spring (roten onsen) from which you can view the horizon. Considering the island covers an area of just 18.87 square kilometers with only one trade center and one village, you’d be surprised with the amount of activities available on this island. Below, we get into details of each activity and viewing spots.
Kozushima things to do
From the moment you disembark the boat, the sheer blueness of the ocean at Kozushima is sure to dazzle you. Not only is the color of the water so brilliant, but the island is abundant with many varieties of fish, making it the perfect spot for snorkeling and diving. Where do you need to go to see such cobalt blue sea? No worries, just about every beach on Kozushima is spectacularly blue! An easy walk from most accommodations is Maehama Beach.
Maehama beach, located just in front of the Honmura area where most accommodations are located, is a white sand beach stretching one km. Beach houses are set up in the summer offering a variety of services. The beach is also popular as a viewing spot for sunsets.
The Allure of Snorkeling in Kozushima!
If you’re going to Kozushima in the summer, we highly recommend you go snorkeling. The visibility here is amazing, with multicolored fish swimming freely through the ocean. You also get to see coral reefs. The Akasaki promenade is a snorkeling area, but in the summer it’s also popular for the dive board – jump of the board into the bright blue sea for an exhilarating experience. Enjoy some Kozushima swimming in the summer!
The closer you are to Kozushima, the bluer the color of the ocean becomes, clearing up to reveal extraordinarily transparent waters.
You can rent 3 piece snorkeling sets at the local dive shops. In the summer they’re also available for purchase at Akasaki promenade, so you can arrive empty-handed and enjoy some Kozushima snorkeling.
Address: Kobeyama, Kozushima-mura, Tokyo
Access: Bus from Honmura (Kozushima Port). Schedule changes depending on season. Check with your accommodation or Tourist Association.
The Allure of scuba Diving in Kozushima!
Kozu-shima island is highly popular as a diving spot as well. The ocean floor is carpeted in pure white sand, and there’s even a massive arch to be seen. You may come across green turtles and a ton of colorful fish. Crustaceans including lobsters also call this place home. Night diving is also popular – the moon lights up the ocean, creating a mysterious atmosphere. While it’s a little chilly in the winter, Kozushima attracts divers year round as it’s known for its high density of fish.
For a list of Kozushima’s scuba diving shops, visit the home page of the Kozu Island Tourist Association (Google translated site available)
Hiking Mt. Tenjo-
Stunning View From The Peak And Snow White Sands
If you’re visiting Kozu-shima island, you have to visit this spot. There are two hiking trails, both of which take about 40-50 minutes to the peak from their respective starting points – Mountain Trail Entrance or parking lot. Both are relatively easy routes. Once at the top, enjoy the stunning view but before you begin your descent, seeing as you’ve made the effort to climb Mt. Tenjo, we recommend you add the crater loop to your experience. Making it to all the spots will take 5-6 hours total, but with so many terrains to see in just one mountain, it’s a very interesting trek.
The Allure Of The Crater Loop At Mt. Tenjo
The crater loop at Mt. Tenjo can be completed in roughly 3 hours. As a mountain it’s not that big, but it’s dotted with a series of contrasting landscapes. The area known as ‘urasabaku’ with snow white sands, ‘Fudoike’, a heart-shaped pit which turns into a pond aft
er rain, and ‘Hairanaigasawa’, a serene spot known as the place where Gods of the Izu Islands held their assembly.
Urasabaku (literally back desert), a desert made up of snow white sands. There’s also an area called omotesabaku (literally front desert). Mt. Tenjo is known as the place where the Gods of the Izu Islands gathered, and sure enough there is an air of holiness that hangs in the air.
When it rains, water collects in this pit. Otherwise, it’s normally dried up.
A sacred place in which a dragon god is enshrined at the center of the pond. From above, the pond appears to be in the shape of a heart. Mt. Tenjo is also recommended for fans of moss. All the ponds, when dried up, grow moss and turn into moss ponds.
A spot with spectacular views. The rim is designed to be a trail.
Mt. Tenjo is an easy hike great for beginners, and the views are exceptional. We highly recommend hiking it.
Hot Spring With Ocean View And Starry Night Sky
The hot springs at Kozushima are separated by indoor and outdoor hot spring areas. The indoor hot spring can be entered without a swimsuit, but as the outdoor hot spring is coed, you’re required to wear a swimsuit.
If you’re not comfortable going bare with strangers, the outdoor hot spring is the better option for you. The outdoor hot spring has a fantastic view of the ocean, and at night, if you’re lucky you may see the night sky filled with stars.
There’s a bus running from Honmura, so even if you don’t have a car this place is accessible.
Kozushima Recreation Center (Kouzushima Onsen Hoyou Center)
Address: 1-1 Sabisaki, Kozushima-mura
Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm（last entry at 8pm）
Closed: Wednesdays (excludes July – Sept, golden week, New Year season)
Fee: adult 800 yen, child (primary school and under) 400 yen
There is only one camping area on Kozushima. Tako bay camp ground. If you are mountain lover or you don’t have a tent, Tako bay camp ground will be the choice for you. It is located at the foot of Mt. Tenjo, surrounded by beautiful green and you will wake up to the voice of birds. If you have a tent and want to stay at this camp ground, the fee is 400 yen. Rental tents and deck tents (Max 8 people) are available too.
About Tako bay camp ground is here
*Swajiri Bay Camping Site and Nagahama Bay Camping Site are permanently closed as of March 31, 2020.
Starry Night With Milky Way
Look up at the night sky, and you’ll see so many stars they look as though they’d fall out of the sky. From time to time you may even get a glimpse of the milky way. The best time to go are the new moons, or dates close to it.
Lunar Calender for Tokyo
See here for the best stargazing spots.
Enjoy the millions of stars that glimmer in the sky like precious stones.
Must-eat or drink in Kozushima
Savor fresh seafood and local sake at Kozushima. Below are some local specialities that you’ll find at most restaurants, and that we highly recommend you try on your visit.
Golden Eye Sea Bream
Golden Eye Sea Bream (Kinmedai) is known in Japan as an expensive fish. Kozushima happens to be a known place for catching Kinmedai. Eating Kinmedai in Tokyo and other parts of the main island, it’ll easily cost you thousands of yen, but at Kozushima you can eat a set meal for as little as 1000 yen.
Address: 37-2 Kozushima-mura, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00am- 2:00pm
Closed: Tuesdays (open during summer and New Year season)
3 minutes from walk from Kozushima port
*Many accomodations serve Kinmedai for dinner, so check with them beforehand.
Japanese sake is not all there is to Japanese liquor. Did you know that in the southern parts of the nation, many drink Shochu instead? Shochu is typically distilled from potatoes or barley.
While many of the Izu islands make their own shochu, Kozushima’s Moriwaka (盛若) is a barley based shochu renowned across Japan. The delicious spring water of Kozushima is the secret to its smooth finish.
Other local shochus include Shima (島), and Onbase (思馳). Try a few and find one to your taste.
Kusaya is a dish widely eaten across the Izu islands. Kusaya is fish soaked in brine called Kusaya-eki (literally kusaya liquid), then dried under the sun. Kusaya is loved across the Izu islands, and has an extremely pungent smell. Its smell would make you think you were on a farm, and likely off-putting for first timers.
But then as you take one, two bites of Kusaya, you begin to notice how fluffy the flesh of the fish is, and you slowly get hooked on it. Not everyday you get to visit Kozushima, so we really think it’s worth a challenge.
*How to eat it: use your hands to rip small pieces of the fish and eat it.
Pluck it today and by tomorrow it would begin to bud. Hence the name for ashitaba (literally tomorrow leaf). As it’s part of the parsley family, it has a bit of a distinctive taste, but it’s high in nutritious value and super popular across the Izu islands. A great way to eat it is as ashitaba tempura.
Utsubo Karaage (fried moray eel) isn’t something you’d find at your typical eatery. At Kozushima, they often fry locally caught utsubo. These are superb eaten with the shochu mentioned earlier.
Shoyu-meshi (literally soy sauce rice) is a local favorite. It’s a seasoned rice with ingredients like local seaweed and soy sauce mixed in before steaming. These are sold as rice balls at Sekishou-shouten, a local supermarket. Pick one up before your hike to snack on at the peak of the mountain.
Address: 816 Kozushima-mura, Tokyo
Closed: First and third Wednesdays of the month
How to get to Kozu island
There are two ways to get to Kozushima – either by plane or boat.
Kozushima island ferry
The advantage of getting there by boat is the fact that it’s cheap. If you take the large passenger boat operated by Tokaikisen from Takeshiba Sanbashi port in Tokyo’s Hamamatsucho, the Kozushima ferry may take 12 hours, but a two way ticket is give or take about 15,000 yen. In the summer season there’s a jet boat in operation as well, cutting down the travel time to 4 hours, and costing roughly 18,000 to 20,000 for a two way ticket.
The disadvantage is the length of time. The large passenger boat especially is cost effective but takes a long time. That said, many of the boats depart late at night, so you’ll get most of the way there while you’re asleep.
The other option is to fly. Departing from Tokyo’s Chofu airport on a small passenger plane operated by New Central Airservice, flying will get you to Kozushima airport in 45 minutes! While great for cutting down on travel time, the disadvantage is the cost. At roughly 30,000 yen it costs much more than the boat.
To make the most of both mountain and ocean, we recommend staying for at least two nights and three days. For a shorter one night and two days stay, flying by plane will allow for more time spent on the island. Choose your mode of travel depending on your plans, budget and your personal preference.
Getting around Kozushima
Renting a car is great for visiting the hot springs or going hiking, but not everything is driving distance.
The best way to get around is either on a moped or a bicycle. Neither can be booked in advance so go directly to the shop to rent. For those looking to rent a moped, be sure to bring your international driver’s license.
See here for a list of shops(Google translated pages available)
There’s also a locally operated bus, but it only runs three to four times a day. The destinations are limited too, with there only being one from Kozushima port to Kozushima Recreation Center/ Akasaki promenade direction, and another from Kozushima port to airport/Takowan direction (passes the camp site). For those planning on heading to Mt. Tenjo, be sure to make other arrangements as there are no buses.
*Check the bus timetable here (Japanese only)
Accommodation at Kozushima
Most accommodation at Kozushima comes in Minshuku style, meaning, they come included with breakfast and dinner. Lately, more places have started offering breakfast only packages or even those with no meals included, so it’s best to check beforehand what your accommodation offers. In addition, the majority of places offer free pick up and drop off for check in and check out, but a few don’t offer these services, so again, check with your accomodation in advance. Also there are 3 camp ground.
Most accommodations don’t have English support, buy those registered with booking.com do.
Head to Kozushima, where you can go out and enjoy nature year round!
In addition to all the spots we presented above, Kozushima is home to endemic species of plants and creatures, making it home to year round fun. Adventure beyond the big cities and visit Kozushima, an island with beautiful nature and delicious food.