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Published on 04.28.2016
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 1000km away from Japan’s Mainland, Ogasawara Islands consists of 2 inhabited islands, Chichi-jima (island of father) and Haha-jima (island of mother), and around 30 uninhabited islands of various sizes. There is no airport here, therefore a 24-hour journey on a weekly ferry is the only way to get there.
Because of such isolation, Ogasawara islands offer pristine natural wonders and experiences of a lifetime.
Ogasawara Islands was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2011 for their animals and plants which have been through a unique evolutionary process because of their isolation.
What you should do in Ogasawara islands?
1. Scuba diving, snorkelling. Enjoy the spectacular scenes of colourful coral reef, tropical fish or the migration of big fish in clear blue water. You may have a chance to swim with dolphins or manta rays and spot sea turtles.
2. Whale watching. If you want to watch humpback whales and hear their song, the best time to go is from December to April. Alternatively, you’re more likely to see magnificent sperm whales diving into the deep sea from May to November. There are many operators that run whale watching tours and you can check them out at tourist association centres.
3. Dolphin watching and swimming. Watch wild dolphins play in the sea. You may be able to share some time with the dolphins if they are comfortable with you.
4. Sea Kayaking. Skim across beautiful blue water and coral reefs to find hidden beaches only accessible by kayak.
5. Night sky, Night tour Because the night sky in Ogasawara has almost no artificial light interference, you can experience some amazing stargazing. If you join one of the night tours, you can encounter Bonin fruit bats and luminous green mushrooms.
Where to get more information
There are two tourist association centres, one in Chichi-jima and the other one in Haha-jima. Both of them have a website in English.
Where you stay
There are about 60 hotels and accommodation facilities in Ogasawara. During high season, they can become fully booked out. Early reservation is recommended.
You can find a list of accommodation here.
*Ogasawara Kaiun, an operator of the ferry, offers the ferry round trip and accommodation package deal ‘Ogamaru Pack’.
Ferry service information
New Ogasawara-maru leaves Takeshiba in Tokyo at 11.00 on Wednesday and arrives in Chichi-jima at 11.00 the next day. It leaves Chichi-jima at 15.30 on Sunday and arrives in Takeshiba at 15.30 the next day.
You can book a ticket online from the website below. A free of charge membership registration is required prior to booking.
*You can obtain a ticket at Takeshiba boat terminal, various travel agents in Japan or convenience stores (Lawson, FamilyMart and SunKus).
For details, please check on their website.
Things you have to remember
1. No camping in any part of Ogasawara. In order to protect the unique nature of Ogasawara, camping is prohibited all areas. Book your accommodation before your visit. It gets busy during golden week holidays (around the end of April to the beginning of May), summer holidays and New Year holidays. Book your tours in advance during these high seasons to avoid disappointment.
2. No entry to lands other than public road and public walk. Most of the national forests on Ogasawara Islands are designated as protected areas of forestry ecosystem. Follow the map or a guide if you are in tours.
3. Prepare Japanese yen before the visit. There is no foreign currency exchange service in Ogasawara and most local shops and restaurants don’t accept credit cards. There is a Japan Post Bank ATM in the post office in Nishi-machi, Chichi-Jima that accept credit cards issued overseas. For details click HERE. I, however, recommend you to boring cash just in case. After all, you are 1000km away from the other ATM.
4. Bring plenty of water with you when you’re out. Apart from the village centre, there’s no facility supplying drinking water. There’s no convenience store, either. When you are lounging in the beach or trekking in the forest, bring enough water for the day.
5. You’ll need to wear wetsuit during winter. Although Ogasawara is situated in subtopics climate zone, swimming in a swimsuit is only possible between May and November.
▼Ogasawara vill. English Site