10 Solitary Islands to Visit Across Japan

Japan consists of more than 6000 islands. There are various features on each and every island. Here we have picked 10 solitary islands for your bucket list. These islands are true gems you would most definitely discover profound aspects of Japanese culture you were unaware of.


Things to Do

1. Ōkunoshima (大久野島) - an island full of rabbits [Hiroshima]

A 12-minute ride on a ferry from Tadanoumi Port in Takehara City, Hiroshima, will take you to this so-called 'Rabbit Island' of just 4.3km in width yet inhabited by more than 700 rabbits.  It's best to take some vegetables like cabbage leaves and carrots with you to please the native inhabitants. On the contrary to such cute aspects,  Okunoshima is also called the island of chemical toxic gas as there were factories producing chemicals during the war. You can visit the former production sites to evidence scars from the wartime.   

Address:  Okunoshima, Tadanoumi-cho, Takehara-shi, Hiroshima 〒729-2311 (Google Map)

2. Sadogashima (佐渡島) - Tarai Bune Experience [Niigata]

Located in the western part of Niigata, Sado Island is a fairly large island with approximately 262.7km in width. There are a few places of interest such as Mount Kinpoku and Toki no Mori Park, but the highlight has got to be a ride on a traditional tub-boat(たらい舟). The boatwoman will demonstrate her rowing skills but you can also try rowing the boat on your own. It's not a skill you can acquire in a day, but you will have fun for sure.   

HP:park19.wakwak.com/~rikiyakankou/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 184 Ogi-machi, Sado-shi, Niigata 〒952-0604 (Google Map)

3. Manabe Shima (真鍋島) - Fun day out with cats and eating live whiteleg shrimps [Okayama]

rahen z / Flickr

7.6km wide Manabe Island is located in Kasaoka City, Okayama.  Recently the island has been gaining popularity as 'Cat Island'. You will find many feline friends particularly around the port. There is a fisherman's eatery called Ryoka 「漁火(りょうか)」near the port where you can indulge fresh live seafood like whiteleg shrimps and octopus. (Reservation is required for course meals.)  

HP:tabelog.com/okayama/A3302/A330204/33001180/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 4236-1 Motoura, Manabe-shima, Kasaoka-shi, Okayama (Google Map)

4. Iriomotejima (西表島) - Mangrove Kayak [Okinawa] 

Located in Taketomi Town, Okinawa, Iriomote Island is the largest of  Yaeyama Islands with around 130km. You can enjoy various marine activities such as snorkeling in coral reefs. We recommend kayaking along Japan's largest mangrove forest to immerse yourself in wild nature.  

HP:www.ne.jp/asahi/iriomote/tideline/index.htm (Japanese Only)

Address: 339-1 Uehara, Taketomi-cho, Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa 〒907-1541 (Google Map)

5.  Ogasawara Shoto (小笠原諸島) - Swimming with dolphins in the World Heritage Site [Tokyo]

Ogasawara Islands, also known as  Bonin Islands, is said to be the Oriental version of Galapagos Islands. Located 1000km south-south-east from Tokyo on the Pacific Ocean, it is formed by more than 30 islands. The base for tourism is Chichijima (父島) which takes about 25.5 hours by ferry from Tokyo. There you can watch dolphins and even swim with them. Snorkeling alongside thousands of fish is also a popular activity.  

HP:www.ogasawarakanko.com/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 31 Higashimachi, Chichijima, Ogasawara-mura, Tokyo 〒100-2101 (Google Map)

6. Niijima (新島) - Parthenon-style hot  spring bath [Tokyo]

Niijima is around 41.6km and forms part of Izu Islands. It is approximately 160km south of Tokyo. You can enjoy surfing and swimming at the beach. There is an eye-catching, monumental replica of the Parthenon, which happens to be an open-air hot spring bath called Yunohama Roten Onsen 「湯の浜露天温泉」. You can bathe with your swimwear on for free with a great sea view in front of you.

Address: Honson Mamashita, Niijima-mura, Tokyo 〒100-0400 (Google Map)

7. Gunkan-jima (軍艦島) - The soon-to-be registered UNESCO World Heritage Site [Nagasaki] 

From its shape which resembles a gunkan (軍艦), a battleship in Japanese, Hashima Island in Nagasaki is widely known as 'Gunkan-jima'.  Thanks to coal mining, the island prospered from Meiji to Showa eras. Today, however, the island has become obsolete and uninhabited. It is one of the settings of a live-action movie based on popular manga "Attack on Titan". 


Address: Hashima, Takashima-cho, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki (Google Map)

8. Tsunoshima (角島) - Crossing the big bridge and climbing up the lighthouse [ Yamaguchi]

inazakira / Flickr

Tsunoshima is one of the islands based in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi. A 1780m long bridge was constructed in 2000, establishing an overland route between the mainland island and Tsunoshima. View of the bridge and the sea on a sunny day is spectacular.  In Japan there are only 15 lighthouses that are open to the public to climb to the top, and Tsunoshima is one of them.  It is a beautiful stone-built, one of the two unpainted lighthouses in the country.

Address:  Tsunoshima, Hohoku-cho,  Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi  (Google Map)

9. Kamishima (神島) - Spirit of Mishima  [Mie]

Kami Island is in Toba City, Mie Prefecture.  It is around 3.9km wide. Shiosai (『潮騒』 'The Sound of Waves'), a famous novel by Yukio Mishima, one of the most acclaimed post-war novelists  in Japan, was based on this island.  The karst landscape throughout the island is beautiful and making it an ideal location for hiking. Sappa「潮波(さっぱ)」, an eatery near the port, serves delicious rice cooked with octopus called Takomeshi 「たこめし」.

HP: tabelog.com/mie/A2403/A240302/24010471/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Kamishima-cho, Toba-shi, Mie (Google Map)

10. Chikubushima(竹生島) - Pilmgrimage on an island in Lake Biwa  [Shiga]

Floating on the north of Lake Biwa, Chikubu Island is an uninhabited island, however it is said from the ancient time that the God lives there hence there is both a shrine (Chikubusuma Shrine) and a temple (Hogon-ji). There is an area facing Lake Biwa where you can try your luck by throwing tiles. Legend has it that if the tile goes through Torii, the gateway to the shrine below the cliff, your wish will come true. 

Address: 1821 Hayasaki-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga (Google Map)

Whichever the destination you choose, you would feel the greatness of wild nature at each of these island which would leave you with a strong impression you would never feel had you only travelled urban cities. 

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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