If you are exploring Tokyo on a longer duration and want something different from the usual city lifestyle, make a visit to Oshima Island, which is just 100 kilometres south of the capital. This would be considered as a short island getaway from Tokyo, and an island adventure in Japan that is totally unexpected.
Many local Japanese tend to visit Oshima for the summer holidays versus spending money to travel to other tropical islands like Okinawa, Guam, Saipan or even Hawaii. Some of the main activities here include a lot of cycling, trekking and hiking, scenic views and even scuba diving.
Where Is Oshima Island?
One of the stunning views of Oshima Island.
Oshima Island is also known as Izu Oshima, actually belongs to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and is part of the Izu Peninsular in the south of Tokyo. But for some strange reason, the island sits in the Philippine Sea and is the largest of the Izu Islands.
The main town is called Oshima Town or Motomachi, where almost everyone on the island lives at, and the total population of the island is no more than 10,000 people. To be exact, the island is the largest island south of Tokyo when you look in the map.
Trekking around Oshima Island. Photo WikiJapan.
What To Do At Oshima Island?
This island caters to those who love the outdoors, nature and adventure, and there is quite a number of things that can be done here. If you are expecting another city like Tokyo, sorry to disappoint you but you will not find that here.
Cycling – This is obviously a challenging adventure where you rent a mountain bike and explore the island on your own. It takes a total of five hours to complete one circle around Oshima Island, and this would be the best way to see the entire island. I would estimate around six to seven hours for this, and not stressing yourself.
The best way to see Oshima is by cycling around the island. Photo Tokyo Islands.
Sightseeing – There are numerous places where you can do sightseeing around Oshima Island, and the best way is by renting a car, getting a tourist map and hit the island roads. One of the popular places is the Habu Port Lookout Point or Observation Deck, where you can see the entire port from a high vantage point.
Fudeshima island is another interesting location just a little further from the Habu Part, where the island looks like a large needle sticking out of the ocean, and is best seen from the road viewpoint.
Habu Town is also another place worth exploring as it is a small fishing town with a very traditional look and feels. You can find some really old restaurants and shops here, while it is also a great place for photo taking.
Hiking on the island is one of the top things to do in Oshima.
Trekking – One of the popular things to do here is trekking, and is best done if you engage one of the local trek guides. This way, they can take you to the most beautiful and scenic treks on the island. And did you know that Oshima Island is listed as a Japan Geopark? Yes, they got the title back in 2010 and is called the Izu Oshima Geopark.
Mountain Climbing – Mount Mihara is the tallest mountain on the island at 758 meters above sea level, and almost all adventure lovers will make the trip up here. One of the highlights is the Black Desert which makes this place looks like the moon surface. It is also a highly popular spot for photography. A trek up to the peak will take 90 minutes, but for the average tourist, it can take around two hours.
The Mihara Mountain Crater, seen when you reach the peak. Photo: CC WikiJapan.
Volcano Visiting – Mount Mihara is also an active volcano, where it last erupted in 1990 and has been declared safe all these years. From the peak of the mountain, you can actually see the beautiful volcanic crater. This experience requires one to be medium fit to trek up the mountain. And if you’re into volcanoes, then you must visit the Izu Oshima Museum of Volcanoes.
Beach Hunting – The one main popular beach on Oshima is the Sa-No-Hama Beach, which is a black sand beach, and the longest on the island. This beach is well known as a turtle nesting site and is only 15 minutes drive from the main airport here. So, if you are a beach lover, this black beach would be a unique place to unwind and de-stress from the city life.
Scuba diving on the island is one of the best in the Tokyo area.
Scuba Diving – This is a must if you are a scuba diver, and there are five main dive sites located on the island, one of the north, one in the south and three on the west coast of the island. There are also three dive operators on the island, which are also close to the dive spots.
The underwater world is rich with an abundance of fish and macro life. In the summer, Hammerhead Sharks make an appearance at one of the dive sights, which is quite a spectacular sight. Temperature ranges from 14 degrees Celsius in the winter to 26 degrees in the summer, and the best time to scuba dive at Oshima is during the Autumn season.
Snorkelling – If you do not scuba dive, there are options for you to do snorkelling from the same dive operators. Just book with them and they will arrange for snorkelling trips on the west coast of the island.
A seaside onsen, which is totally out of this world.
Onsen Relaxing – Everywhere in Japan, you can find an onsen or hot spring and here in Oshima, there is one onsen called Hama-No-Yu, which is one of the most luxurious experiences you can have. Imagine yourself in the onsen during sunset by the sea. Prices are ¥300 per person, and the onsen opens from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM only.
Shopping and Eating – Well, this is an outdoor place, but there is hope for those who want to get some souvenirs, and you can do so at Oshima Town. There are a few souvenir shops, museums and restaurants available and worth exploring. I recommend trying some of the seafood restaurants in town.
How To Move Around Oshima Island?
By moving around the island, you will encounter beautiful scenery like this.
For the first timer who wants to make the best out of their visit here, I recommend you rent a car when you arrive on the island, where you can self drive around without wasting time. This is best done if you are travelling with a family or a group of friends.
For single or couple travellers, you have the option of renting a scooter or even bicycle for your adventures. There are also taxis and buses, but these are time-consuming and taxies are not cheap in Japan.
Renting A Car – The best and easiest way to move around Oshima Island, car rentals can be done at the airport, and the price of a car ranges from the make and mode. It is around ¥5,000 to ¥15,000 a day for rental, and you are required to produce an international driving licence.
Renting A Scooter – For the younger, single or couple travellers, this is a cheaper alternative, and prices for scooter rentals are from ¥4,000 to ¥8,000 a day. This also requires an international driving license.
Mountain bikes are the best to rent when on the island.
Renting A Bicycle – Honestly, if only you are into cycling, then this is a great option. I know someone who rented a car and a bicycle to make the best out of his trip to Oshima. A mountain bike can cost around ¥2,000 a day, or you can do an hourly rental which is cheaper. It is said that to cycle around the island, it can be done in six hours.
Public Buses – Of course, this is the cheapest method, but only if you have a lot of time to spare. Buses only stop at the main stations along the main roads, and most tourist sites will require you to walk from the bus stop. And the buses are not frequent, meaning they will only pass every two hours or so.
Taxi – Well, if you can afford this option, you can move around the island easily in the comfort of a driver. Again, taxi fares are not cheap in Japan, so unless you have the money to spend, then do this. Just to let you know that an all-island tour with a tourist taxi will cost you ¥29,300.
Tour Company – One easy option is to book a tour with a local tour company, and this way, everything is taken care of. Prices may be a little steep for this option, but suitable for elderly travellers or family travellers.
How To Go To Oshima Island?
Map showing where Oshima Island is located. Picture: Google Maps.
There are two main ways to get here, and the most practical would be to take the high-speed ferry which is the fastest way here. Most people opt for this journey, and the ferries depart from Takeshiba Sanbashi Pier, near Hamamatsucho, Tokyo.
High-Speed Jet Ferry – This is the fastest way to travel to Oshima, as it only takes one hour and forty-five minutes of travel time. There are three daily departures – 8:15 AM, 8:45 AM and 2:15 PM. Ticket prices are fixed at ¥7,110 per person. Visit Tokyo Islands website to book tickets.
One of the boat services to Oshima Island.
Large Passenger Ship – These are full-sized ships and this journey can take around six hours one way to get here. Ships depart once daily on certain days. So, if you have a lot of time to spare, this would be a nice slow and budget-friendly way to go to Oshima Island. Tickets cost from ¥4,390 to ¥8,780 and you can visit Tokyo Islands website to book tickets.
Flights – For flights, there is an airport on this island for some strange reason, and domestic flights depart from Chofu Airport in the Chofu district of west Tokyo. There are direct flights to Oshima Island, and by using turboprop planes, and only take 25 minutes flight. Visit Central Air website to book tickets.
Sa-no-Hama black sand beach is the longest beach on the island.
To be very honest, I find that this is something very different when visiting Japan, as it shows a totally unique part of Japan from an island perspective. If you truly have the time to spare, I would recommend spending a night or two here, to fully enjoy this part of Japan.
Again, the best time to visit Oshima is during the summer or autumn season, and for anyone who is interested to visit Oshima Island, you should also read up the Oshima Tourism Association website as they will have all the required information.