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Japan is surrounded by sea and is well known for its variety of islands. There are so many beautiful places to go, so those islands are very attractive even for the Japanese.
Let me introduce the southern islands of Japan. Those islands still have an ancient atmosphere. This area has mild weather throughout the year. They also have their own unique culture, containing aspects different from Japanese culture.
Here are my recommendations for your next destinations in Japan.
Ishigaki-jima is one of the most famous island in the Yaeyama Islands and is the third largest island of Japan. It is the perfect place to feel nature. You can enjoy canoeing in the Mangrove forest, or trekking mountains. You might be astonished by the Sabichi Limestone cave. It is said that the limestone cave was made almost 370 million years ago. This is the only cave you can go through to the sea in Japan.Photo by nakimusi on FlickrPhoto by nimame on FlickrPhoto by Guwashi999 on Flickr
2. (Other) Yaeyama Islands
You can enjoy a completely unique experience in the Yaeyama Islands. The Yaeyama islands consists of 10 inhabited islands, including Ishigaki-jima and many surrounding inhabited islands. This area is the very southeast area of Japan, 2,000 kilometers away from Tokyo. You will be the last person to see the sun set on the day as the sun goes down very last in this area. In Yonaguni island, an old monument was discovered under the sea and this mysterious monument is getting a great deal of attention.
Taketomi islandPhoto by ajari on Flickr
Iriomote islandPhoto by Kentaro Ohno on Flickr
Hateruma islandPhoto by tomooka on Flickr
Miyako-jima is located far south from the mainland of Japan. It is 1,800 kilometers away from Tokyo. Miyako-jima is well known for its beautiful sea with coral reefs. If you really like diving, this place is perfect for you as this area has not only beautiful species of fish, but also caves and arches in the ocean.Photo by Ippei & Janine Naoi on FlickrPhoto by cyber0515 on Flickr
Kume-jima is 100 kilometers away from Okinawa. This place used to be a very important place for sea traffic for the Ryukyu Dynasty. There still are the ruins of castles and you can enjoy the old historical view.
You can enjoy whale watching, and spending your precious time in a relaxing mood, surrounded by beautiful blue sky and ocean.Photo by lefty1007 on FlickrPhoto by Nao Iizuka on Flickr
Yakushima is the best place for nature trekking. Beautiful mountains (Miyagaura-Dake), fountains and very well known Jomon-Sugi (Jomon Ceder Tree, 2,600 – 7,200 years old).There is a lot to see. After nature trekking, you can enjoy hot springs in this southern island of Japan!Photo by gnta on FlickrPhoto by caseyyee on Flickr
6. Kerama Islands
Kerama islands are 40 kilometers away from Naha City, Okinawa. There are 3 residential islands and many uninhabited islands. This place is perfect for diving and snorkeling as there are many kinds of tropical fish and coral leaves in Kerama.
If you visit the uninhabited islands, you will have a very private and wonderful beach experience!Photo by Misenus1 on FlickrPhoto by keiyac on Flickr
7. Amami Oshima Islands
The Amami Islands are located between Kagoshima prefecture and Okinawa prefecture. On these islands you can enjoy unique plants, like the Mangrove and Banyan trees which are not seen on mainland Japan. You should try to visit Kinsakubaru forest as there are so many unique animals like the Amamino Kurousagi (Amami black rabbit) and Lidth’s jay which are nationally protected species.Photo by Ippei & Janine Naoi on Flickrja.wikipedia.org
8. Ogasawara Islands
The Ogasawara Islands are located 1000 kilometers south of Tokyo. An ocean liner to goes there once a week, and it takes almost 1 day to get there.Photo by Froschmann : かえるおとこ on Flickr
The Ogasawara Islands do not belong to the mainland of Japan. So they have their evolution of plants and animals and this is one of the reasons it is registered as a World Heritage Site.
There are a lot of activities you can enjoy in Ogasawara Islands. Nature trekking, star watching, taking part in night tour…if you have plenty of time, your trip to the Ogasawara Islands can be a perfect vacation for you as you are going to have a truly unique experience unlike anywhere else.Photo by PhoTones_TAKUMA on Flickr