Travel to Kozushima island during Off-season (Spring, Autumn and Winter)
- When is the off-season on Kozushima island?
- Benefits of going to Kozushima Island during off-season as experienced by tourists
- 6 things the real travellers enjoyed on Kozushima during off-season
- More about Kozushima during off-season
- What to look out for when travelling to the island during off-season
- Recommended for those who want to enjoy a stress-free trip to Kozushima: Vacation House FamiliA
When you think of the word "island", you probably associate it with summer. Jump into the clean water for a swim, get a tan or do some stargazing at night... Traditional summer stuff, and this may be the only that comes to mind when you think about islands. However is that really all there is? Did you know that lovers of secret islands and other travellers actually love to stay on an island during off-season? Four travellers whose love of travel has taken them all over the Japan and around the world visited Kozushima island in Tokyo and shared their enjoyment of visiting Kozushima Island. Please enjoy this guide based on their experiences.
When is the off-season on Kozushima island?
On average, Kozushima's off-season is during the fall (October till late December), winter (January to March) as well as late spring (April to June instead of the end of April to the first week of May, a.k.a Golden week).
Even during off-season, there are some events that a lot of people from the mainland attend so it really depends on when or even which date you plan to go. On the other hand, the peak-season is summer (July up until the end of September), the new years' season (About 28th of December till the 7th of January) and Golden week (the end of April to the first week of May).
The peak-season really is in high demand and people tend to book accommodation up to half a year in advance. Ship tickets can be purchased two months in advance. From 9 am, people start calling TOKAIKISEN, the ship company which connects to the mainland and the Izu islands, as if they were trying to get tickets to a concert. So, as you may imagine, it can get so crowded during peak season that it is simply impossible to get into a restaurant unless you have a reservation.
Are you already considering visiting Kozushima during off-season?
Benefits of going to Kozushima Island during off-season as experienced by tourists
The above mentioned four travellers went to Kozushima in January and they really enjoyed their stay. Why did they enjoy the off-season so much? This is what they thought:
Spacious and enjoyable as there are not that many tourists
Since there are not as many tourists when compared to peak-season, you can enjoy the island almost as if you have it all to yourself. During the summer time it’s hard to even rent a bicycle, but you can rent
a bicycle or book a rental car during off-season just like that and go wherever you want to. The beach is not crowded and you might even experience the feeling of having a private beach. The hot springs can be entered without a hitch as there are no queues. Some restaurants are not officially open during off-season, but you are still likely to be able to get in, even with a same-day reservation (Some restaurants accommodate walk-ins, but it is still advisable to make a reservation, even during off-season).
Mingle with the locals
One of the best things when travelling during off-season is meeting locals. Kozushima is not an exception to this. During peak-season, it may be difficult to talk to local people as they're all really busy with attending to the tourists. During off-season, they have more time to spare as they return to their normal routines. You may meet local people and hear interesting stories about the island.
Travel costs are lower
First of all, the cost of tickets for the ship to Kozushima varies from month to month. Of course, during peak-season, such as the summer time, prices are highest. On the other hand, during off-season, especially from January to March, you can get the cheapest price throughout the whole year. Accommodation and ship tickets' fees are lower than during peak-season. To go to Kozushima island during off-season makes for a happy wallet.
A workcation-friendly environment
Even though it's a remote island, it's still part of Tokyo, and Wi-Fi is available. If you want to get some work done, several accommodations offer a pleasant working environment. When the weather is good, you can even work by the sea, quite a nice experience. You still can't get a signal up in the mountains and in some other areas… but it doesn't hurt to take a break from being connected all the time, right?
Temperatures are on average two degrees higher than on the mainland
It's not a tropical island but temperatures are about 2 degrees higher than on the mainland. If the wind is strong however you may feel a bit chilly. When it is a very windy day, the temperature is likely to drop, but during such days you can enjoy the hot springs, do the whole experience, sip coffee in a café or just enjoy the charms of Kozushima indoors.
6 things the real travellers enjoyed on Kozushima during off-season
The four travellers that visited Kozushima in January shared their experiences and told us what they really enjoyed on Kozushima.
Stories of the deities of Kozushima as heard on the tourism app were quite interesting
The four enjoyed walking around the island whilst trying out a tourism app that will become available in 2023, which will allow tourists to learn more about Kozushima Island. This app - a sightseeing application - has two functions: one is to roll dice like in backgammon - and move the user along a map. Within the squares where you end up, you will find not only explanations of historical sites and places of interest, but also quizzes about the life and history on Kozushima, and if you use the explore function, you can locate flowers and interesting scenery that can actually be found in that particular area, and
sometimes, various events are unlocked. The second function is that of an audio guide using the GPS function, which provides information on historical sites and places of interests.
For instance, the unique Shinto rituals of Kozushima, the significance of the shrines on Kozushima within the context of Japan as a whole, and the stories that are hidden within the monuments on Maehama Beach. They told us that they fell in love with Kozu Island more than they could have imagined after hearing stories that they would have missed out on had they just come to visit as tourists. Also, a good point of off-season is that it’s easier to get around on foot as the temperature is mild. Please note in winter a strong wind can blow so don't forget to wear a proper jacket or coat, even when the weather is mild.
Enjoy an easy climb and see the beautiful scenery of Mt. Chichibu
Some of them went hiking on the small mountain, Mt. Chichibu. It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes for a round trip so you can enjoy a full hiking experience in a short amount of time. Hiking on Mt. Chichibu not only allows for seeing a spectacular view of Maehama beach and Tako Bay, but there are also 34 Jizo statues (One of the Buddhist statues) that give visitors a glimpse into the customs and history of the mysterious and religious people of Kozushima island.
Natural hot springs followed by Kozushima cuisine
Northwards along the west coast is the one and only hot spring facility on the island. It can be reached by car or by bus, and is used by many islanders and tourists alike. It is said to be good for stiff shoulders, neuralgia, back pain, frozen shoulders, sensitivity to cold and chronic gynaecological disorders, and will further heal the body after swimming in the sea or climbing mountains and enjoying nature.
If you've never been to a spa before and don't feel comfortable not wearing clothes in public, you can still wear a swimming costume in the large open-air baths. Enjoy the open-air baths, which use natural rock formations. (As of March 2023, the open-air baths are currently out of use.)
After visiting the onsen, why don't you enjoy some Kozushima cuisine? Restaurant Sabisaki, offers local food and typical bar refreshments. If you're a big fan of seafood, Kaisendon (a rice bowl with raw local seafood) and tendon (a rise bowl with fried local seafood) are available. If you're not a big fan of any seafood at all, there are plenty of other dishes on the menu such as curry rice, noodles, ramen etc... Having a meal after a hot spring bath is even more delicious.
When the sky is clear, you can enjoy countless stars
Did you know that Kozushima is a certified site by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) which is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide? On new or near-new moon nights, countless stars twinkle in the sky of Kozushima Island, and during full moons, the island is brightly lit by a full moon instead of stars. There is also a stargazing site (Yotane Square) that can be reached on foot from the settlement, so you may be able to see the stars in full view even without a car.
Pleasing to the eye! The night view of Tokyo, the view of other Izu islands, and the sunrise and sunset from the boat
Even their experiences prior to arriving on the island were special, they reckon. They used the big ferry for the round trip to Kozushima. The big ferry leaves for Kozushima at 10pm from Takeshiba port in Hamatsucho, close to Tokyo tower. When the big ferry leaves port, the ship goes under the rainbow bridge surrounded by the night view of the city of Tokyo. It's incredibly beautiful and you can only experience this view and feel this atmosphere when you are on a ship. They toasted with a can of beer while sitting on deck chairs deck and later on, they slept comfortably in the bunk bed room until morning. Although they could not see the sunrise that day, they were happy to see the other Izu islands and the setting sun on the return trip, which was a rare experience.
More about Kozushima during off-season
Walking/cycling on the west coast is quite neat
If you just focus on swimming or diving into the ocean, you might miss the specialities of Kozushima island. The west coast, which ranges from the Maehama beach to Akasaki promenade is quite interesting. There is a lot to see, but you easily pass by it by car. It takes about 1 hour on foot and 25 minutes by bicycle from Kozushima port to Akasaki promenade. If you stop at each spot, it takes about 2 hours on foot and 1 hour by bicycle to finish.
Dancing Rock: The cliffs are named Dancing Rock because of the way they form a circle like a painting and look as if they are dancing.
Tatamigahana Point: A spot lined with rocks like the tatami mats often found in Japanese houses, is also a good place to watch the sunset.
Mine Cart Ruins: in the past, Koga stone from Mount Kobe was unloaded by rope to the coast and this trolley was used to move the stone and transport it to the ships. The Mine Cart remains in a rusted but beautiful shape.
Buttoshi Rock: There is a tunnel of blasted rock, located about 15 minutes by bicycle from Kozushima Harbour. Beyond that tunnel you will find the blue sea of Kozushima. It is recommended as a photo opportunity spot.
Enjoy the unique flowers of the Izu Islands depending on the season
Seasonal flowers add colour to the each season. In addition, there are some types of flowers that are unique to Kozushima and the Izu Islands, so be sure to come and see them. Oshima cherry blossoms, Kozushima azaleas, saku lily… It is said that there are 480 species of flowers native to Kozushima.
Don't forget to try golden threadfin bream, shochu and craft beer!
Despite being part of Tokyo, the ocean of the Izu Islands are one of the best fishing grounds in Japan and offer an abundance of seafood. Kozushima is particularly famous for its golden threadfin bream fishery.
Shochu, which is a Japanese craft sprit is produced on Kozushima island. Kozushima is well known for its rich water resources. The popular MORIWAKA shochu is made from barley and Kozushima water, and is drunk not only on Kozushima but also on the Izu Islands and on the mainland.
In recent years, craft beer made on Kozushima has also become popular. A wide variety of beers made with using local products are available, including beers with the island's speciality, the superfood Ashitaba leaves, as well as seasonal beers. On the island, visitors can enjoy beer and food made with local ingredients at the Hyuga Brewery microbrewery.
What to look out for when travelling to the island during off-season
Want to come to Kozushima during off-season? Come on in! However here are several tips we would like to give you to avoid any disappointments. Let's put together a plan so you can prepare for a fabulous trip to this remote Tokyo island!
The big ferry is sort of the only option during late winter (from January to March)
Basically, there are 3 ways to go to Kozushima, by big ferry, jet ferry and plane. The main large ships and jet boats all depart from Takeshiba Pier in Tokyo. Takeshiba Pier is a 12-minute walk from JR Hamamatsucho Station. Hamamatsucho Station is very accessible as it is a direct monorail connection from Haneda Airport and a 7-minute train ride from Tokyo Station. There are also jet boats from Atami Port, car ferries from Shimoda Port and even aeroplanes from Chofu Airfield.
Jet boats, which can reach Kozushima from Tokyo in as little as 3 hrs and 5 mins, do not operate during winter (Jan-Mar). Therefore, if you want to get to Kozushima from Tokyo, you can either go by large ship, which takes about 10 hours, or a plane, which leaves from Chofu Airfield and arrives at the island in about 40 minutes. However, the plane is a Cessna and seats only 20 passengers, so it might be difficult to get a reservation.
We simply recommend to use the big ferry even it takes 10 hours to get you there. Because it leaves at night and you'll be spending the trip sleeping anyway. Also you'll have a great experience to see the night view of Tokyo city and go under the rainbow bridge. Also in the morning, if you wake up early, you can see the sunrise and this is quite a neat experience. When you come back to Tokyo from Kozushima, the views of passing by each island are spectacular. The sunset is also gorgeous.
Book your ship tickets from Tokyo to Kozushima here: https://tokyoislands.jp
Book your flight tickets from Tokyo(Chofu) to Kozushima here: https://www.central-air.co.jp/en/
Book your ship tickets from Atami/ Shimoda to Kozushima(only by phone) here: 03-5472-9999
It's better not to swim even if the water looks really beautiful unless you're a scuba diver
Even though the ocean is beautiful, Kozushima isn't a year-round warm-weather resort. We know that the sea looks so beautiful that you simply want to dive in, but if you want to go into the sea during winter, go scuba diving. There are three scuba diving shops on the island.
Tears Blue: http://www.tearsblue.jp
Online ship booking tricky. You have to book five days in advance if you want to go during a weekend
The English-language ship booking system is a little tricky. Normally, a booking must be made at least three business days before embarkation or in the case of traveling during a weekend your booking
needs to be made five days in advance. If you decide to go to Kozushima, make a reservation as soon as possible. If you can't make the dates in time, call the Tokai Kisen office directly. English-speaking staff should be available.
Book your ship tickets from Tokyo to Kozushima: http://tokyoislands.jp
By phone(Tokaikisen ship company): 03-5472-9999 (The operatiing time is 9:30am〜6:00pm)
Even during off-season, it is always a good idea to make a reservation at restaurants
During the busy season, Kozushima Island is overflowing with tourists, often causing restaurants and taverns to be inundated with people. Although off-season does not attract that many tourists, it is recommended to book in advance, especially for evening meals, as some restaurants do not operate in the first place or may be full of local guests.
There are almost on places that can offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or halal food etc...
You may have already noticed that there are few places able to offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, halal foods or any other kinds of special cuisines not only on Kozushima, but also in Japan in general. Making changes to the menu is difficult, especially as ingredients are limited on the islands. If you know what ingredients you prefer, it is best to bring your own. Also, in izakayas, you can choose and order your own small bowl of food.
Recommended for those who want to enjoy a stress-free trip to Kozushima: Vacation House FamiliA
FamiliA is a good choice for a comfortable stay on Kozushima. Run by a husband-and-wife team, this B&B has a large international clientele. The rooms mainly feature Western style beds, which is unusual on the island, and people who are not used to Japanese futon mattresses will be happy to stay here. They also run a café, where you can drink their special coffee and unique drinks. The atmosphere is convivial, with guests chatting with other guests and the owners in the café area during the evenings. At night, you can also observe the stars and the moon from the balcony. English support and travel advice are available.
The four travellers who visited Kozushima this time also spent a whole evening in the café area discussing and getting to know each other. This is one of the best parts of staying at FamiliA.
Travellers and island lovers should aim for the off-season. Not only will you be able to enjoy the island's natural beauty, but you will also feel connected to the islanders, as if they were your relatives, and you may find one more place you want to return to.