Izu Oshima, The Nearest Island from the Center of Tokyo (Part 1)

Do you know Tokyo has several islands? You may have already known “Ogasawara Islands” which are famous for register as World Natural Heritage. Izu Islands also belong to Tokyo and they have studded at Pacific Oceans over 550 km at the Southeast of Izu Peninsula. I had never been to any of them despite I have lived in Tokyo for over 40 years.  So, I just came up with the idea to have a short trip with my husband to the largest and the nearest island, Izu Oshima (which means a Big Island of Izu) among them from Tokyo during “Golden Week”.

Map of Izu Islands refereed from Tokai Kisen Website

How you can get there? 

You can go there by large ship or jet ferry from “Takeshiba Sanbashi” in Tokyo or by a small air place from “Chofu Airport” at suburb city in Tokyo. We chose a jet ferryl which is faster than a large passenger ship and can reach there for 2 hours on one-way this time. (If you use a large ship, you will leave the port around 11:00 pm and reach the island at the next early morning around 6:00 am. It takes long hours, but the cost is cheaper than any other else. If you use a small air place, you can reach there in 25 minutes! And you can have a day trip from Tokyo.)

Riding on a jet ferry was also my first experience and riding comfort was similar to aircraft. We reached Motomochi Port at Izu Oshima after comfortable riding for 2 hours. (Izu Oshima has 2 main ports, Motomachi Port and Okata Port. Ships and jet ferries mostly seem to arrive at Okata Port, but we cannot know which port we will reach or leave from until the morning on the day. Please check the information board at each port carefully when you ride on them.) If you want to know the detailed information on how to get there, check the website  (→Tokai Kisen).

How you can move around the island?

When you go around the island, you have several ways to do it. Public bus services have provided there, but access is not convenient for tourists who want to use their time effectively, so I strongly recommend you rent a car as much as possible. There are several rental-a-car companies near both ports and we had also booked a car in advance.

Cycling is another choice in case you are very confident about your physical fitness, however, I don’t push you to go around the island if you are just normal physical fitness. The road of the island is quite simple and just surrounds the island along the edge, but we found that there was a hard uphill, especially at the mountainside, and many cyclists were pushing their bikes and going up all the way of a long slope. It may be OK if you can rent a road bike, but it is not a good idea to go by so-called a mammy’s bike (we call it “mama-chari” in Japanese). Or you had better enjoy cycling just for a short distance along the sea area. Anyway, the best way is the rent-a-car! (It takes about an hour for driving around the island without stopping anywhere.)

For your reference, the distance of the road around the island (Oshima Isshu Doro) is about 46km, you know, it seems like almost the same as the distance of a full marathon. I don’t know if that is the reason, but I came across some joggers along the road.

Our visiting spots on the island (Part 1)

Stratum like Bermkuchens

On the way to the Southern area from Motomachi Port by car, we suddenly found an interesting natural phenomenon along the road. It seems like huge Baumkuchen, but it is actually stratum deposited with pyroclastic deposits from large eruptions repeatedly occurring every 100 to 200 years in the past 15,000 years. Alternating layers of scoria, volcanic ash, weathered volcanic ash, or humus were made in one eruption and It has been stacked many times. It is said that the reason the formation is curved is not that the ground was swelled, but because the ejecta was deposited on the original topography. They give us some clues about the beginning of the island.

Here is one of the popular picture spots, so that many visitors stopped seeing them and taking photos with them.

A local port called “Habu Minato (Habu Port) ” and fresh local sushi cuisine

Our first destination is Habu Minato (Habu Port) located in the southern area of the island. This is a small local port with a very calm atmosphere and various types of ships from industrial to personal were parked there. As it was the middle of the holidays, some people and a couple of families came there to enjoy shipping at the ocean by their own boats.

Several ships from commercial to private were anchored at the local tony port.
The view of Habu Minato (Habu Port) from the observatory at the top of the hill

Our purpose to come there was enjoying to eat local fresh sushi. There is one of the sushi restaurants which is famous for getting high word of mouth at a gourmet site called “Minato Sushi” and we planned to have lunch there.

The restaurant is relatively new and comfortable to stay, and the chef and his wife were very polite and friendly to all customers. What we ordered was “Local Sushi Plate” and “Bekko Sushi”. “Local Sushi Plate” consists of 9 different kinds of nigiri sushi with local fresh fishes and shells which we are not familiar with! “Bekko Sushi” is specific local sushi of Izu Oshima, which is also a type of nigari sushi with white fishes such as snapper soaked into soy source and green chili. When you bite Bekko Sushi, spicy flavor spread in your mouth. You must fond of it if you like spicy food very much. Minato Sushi is quite popular among both local people and visitors, so you definitely need to make a reservation beforehand, especially weekends and holidays. Many people came to the restaurant without pre-booking during our stay, but most of them were rejected due to full of seats.

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