Feel the Awe-Inspiring Power of Nature on Miyakejima
Lying within the Fuji volcanic belt, the island of Miyakejima is well known for its wild coastal scenery and unique natural environment. With regular ferry access from central Tokyo, the island has become not only a destination for marine leisure such as diving and fishing, but also a popular place to enjoy activities like trekking and cycling. Below are just a few places to see and things to do in this fascinating place.
Understanding the Island
Located in the Pacific Ocean about 180 kilometers south of central Tokyo, Miyakejima is one of the Izu Islands, and enjoys a warm climate and abundant rainfall owing to the surrounding Kuroshio Current. The island is an active volcano, and evidence of volcanic activity can be seen all throughout the island. Attracted by the island’s incredible natural scenery, visitors come for trekking, cycling, dolphin watching, and other outdoor recreation.
There are primarily two ways to reach Miyakejima from mainland Tokyo: by ship or by plane. Tokai Kisen runs a large passenger ferry that departs every night from Tokyo’s Takeshiba Pier (which is eight minutes on foot from JR Hamamatsucho Station) and arrives the next day at Miyakejima Port at around five o’clock. The ferry offers five travel classes from second class to VIP class. For those who prefer to take an airplane, New Central Airservice operates three commuter aircraft flights a day (depending on the season) from Chofu Airport (which is fifteen minutes by bus from Keio Corporation’s Chofu Station) to Miyakejima, taking about fifty minutes.
Rent an Electric Bike at the Miyakejima Tourist Association
While you could travel around the island by motorcycle, by car, or even on foot, Miyakejima’s moderate size, with a circumference of about thirty-eight kilometers which is about the same as the JR Yamanote Line, makes it suitable for cycling. The Miyakejima Tourist Association, located in the Ako Fishing Port’s Passenger Waiting Place (Kokoport), rents out e-bikes for half-day use (¥1,500) or one-day use (¥2,500).
Cycling around the entire island without making any detours takes about two hours and thirty minutes, and while there is hilly terrain you can pedal up slopes in a breeze with the assistance of the bike’s electric motor.
Nippana Shinzan was formed overnight by rocks and volcanic ash during the 1983 eruption of Miyakejima’s volcano. The side facing the sea has been cut away, creating a sharp contrast between the red and black of the lava and the blue of the ocean. Incidentally, the name Nippana Shinzan, which literally means “new nose, new mountain,” came from the formation’s resemblance to the nose of a person lying down!
This freshwater lake formed at the site of an eruption that occurred about 2,500 years ago. The crater walls that rise above the lake are covered with primeval forest, which is a paradise for wild birds. Enjoy the tranquillity, beauty, and birdsong in this designated wild-bird habitat, which is a part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
On the way to Tairo-Ike Pond, you will pass a large Chinquapin tree called Maigojii, which is said to be over six hundred years old. This giant tree with a height of over twenty meters is designated a natural monument by the Miyake village and has long been cherished by the villagers as a landmark they can use to keep from getting lost in the dense forest around the pond.
Toga Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, is a popular place for observing fish, diving, and bird watching. In the clear waters just off the beach, you’ll find the northernmost colonies of table corals in Japan and complex underwater topography that includes large arches and tunnels. Back on shore, you can see close-up the strata formed by repeated volcanic eruptions.
Megane Iwa / Spectacles Rock
After being formed by a 1643 eruption, this rock formation was constantly eroded by waves until two holes appeared, making it look like eyeglasses. However, a typhoon in 1959 caused the hole on the right side to collapse, leaving the formation with just a single dramatic arch.
Sanbondake / Onohara Islands
Looking out to sea, about eight kilometers west-southwest of Miyakejima you will see three rocky peaks protruding from the sea. This rock formation is known as the Onohara Islands, but is also referred to as Sanbondake (Three Shore Rocks). Because of the abundant fish in the Kuroshio Current where the islands are located, they are a popular fishing spot known nationwide.
Saba Sand Café
If you have worked up an appetite cycling around the island, stop for a break and try Miyakejima's specialty, the mackerel sandwich. This inexpensive meal consists of mackerel fillet that has been marinated in sake and soy sauce, then grilled and placed inside a soft bread roll with lettuce, onion and red bell pepper. Minshuku SNAPPER, offers sandwiches which can be purchased at the Saba Sand Café on the second floor of Ako Fishing Port’s Passenger Waiting Place (Kokoport)—but only on days when the Tokai Kisen ferry departs from Sabigahama Port.
The Hot Springs at Furusato no Yu
After a long day of cycling around the island, take a rest and enjoy the soothing hot springs at Furusato no Yu. Here, they have an indoor bath and an outdoor bath. If the weather is fine, you can take in a view of a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
The fresh ocean air and outstanding sunsets makes Miyakejima hard to say goodbye to. The island’s opposing attributes of remoteness and accessibility together make Miyakejima the perfect place to unwind and appreciate a change of scenery.
To plan your trip:
Miyakejima Tourist Association
https://www.miyakejima.gr.jp/ (Japanese, but machine translation is available)
Tokai Kisen Co., Ltd.
New Central Airservice Chofu Airport
This article was written by Noam Katz.Back