Hachijo-jima: Tokyo’s Paradise Island 45 Minutes from Haneda Airport
Tokyo is a worldly renowned metropolis and as such many of its tourist spots are always busy and packed with tourists. But there is one place we can recommend to anyone who has started thinking “Busy places aren’t too bad, but can I spend a more relaxing time somewhere else?” It’s Hachijo-jima Island. Photo: flickr.com
Accessible in about 45 minutes by plane from Haneda Airport, Tokyo, or alternatively, 10 hours by ship, Hachijo-jima is a remote island with an average annual temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. Located the southernmost among other islands of Izu, it is a small island formed by two volcanoes merging together. Blessed with rich vegetation, mountains, hot spring and the blue ocean, it makes a wonderful tourist destination. For the richness of natural elements being very contrastive to the urban setting of Tokyo, many people will be surprised when they know that the island is actually a part of Tokyo Prefecture.
Enjoy Sushi First When You Get to the Island!
The first thing you would want to do after arriving at the airport is to have something to eat. Why not go for Shimazushi, the specialty sushi variation of Hachijo-jima Island. While you can find a couple of places serving Shimazushi around the island, you can also enjoy it at the restaurant in the airport.
Shimazushi is a sushi variation unique to the island. It is made by placing soy sauce marinated sashimi on top of sweet flavored sushi rice. Uniquely for this type of sushi, a pinch of karashi mustard is used instead of wasabi, which is commonly used for regular sushi. The well seasoned sashimi matches perfectly with the tangy hot taste of karashi mustard and creates an exquisite taste.
If you have quenched your appetite, it’s time for sightseeing! Let’s take a look at some of the major tourist spots around the island!
Hachijo Fuji is the symbol of the island and a must-visit for anyone visiting the island for sightseeing. Hachijo-jima is said to be an island formed by two volcanoes merging together and the whole island looks gourd-shaped seen from above. There is a mountain called Mihara-yama in the eastern part of the island, and on the western part rises the mountain of Hachijo Fuji.
Hachijo Fuji is a cone-shaped and gently sloped mountain of 854 meters altitude. As the name suggests, it has a beautiful shape like Mt. Fuji and its summit commands the whole view of the island. Information: Map
Besides the Hachijo Fuji, the next tourist spot is also very famous.
As the name of this waterfall “Uramigataki,” which literally means “fall seen from behind,” suggests, you can look at the dropping waterfall from behind it. In hot summer, you can cool off and refresh yourself just by looking at the waterfall that never ceases to flow. As not so many other places allow you to enjoy looking at a waterfall from behind, this is a highly recommendable spot. Information: Map
Fureai Bokujo is a farm located on the hillside of the Hachijo Fuji mountain. As it is located at a relatively high altitude, it makes a great spot for viewing the wonderful natural scenery of Hachijo-jima Island with the blue sky and ocean in the background.
Looking at cows peacefully spending their times in such wonderful scenery is truly soul-soothing. The time here flows so slowly that you will sometimes come to yourself in surprise and wonder “Am I really in Tokyo?” This place will surely make you linger, so it’s recommended to allow enough time when visiting here. Information: Map
Hachijo Botanical Garden
This botanical garden is admission free and allows you to get close to the plants and animals inhabiting the island. It is especially famous for breeding a rare animal species called “kyon.”
Kyon are small deer native to Taiwan and southern China, and also known by the English name of “Reeves’s muntjac.” You can find these adorable deer species at a corner of the garden.
While the garden site is fairly large and requires a lot of time to take a look around, it is highly recommendable as a place where you can enjoy learning about the nature of Hachijo-jima Island. Information: Map
Nanbara Senjoiwa Coast
This site will definitely make one of the best highlights of your tour around the island.
This coastal area is made of solidified lava, which flowed into the ocean when the Hachijo Fuji mountain once erupted. There is almost nothing other than a stretch of black rough rocks along the coast, but the scenery created by those rocks washed by the sea waves is indescribably impressive and cool.
Especially at dusk just before sunset, you can enjoy fascinating scenery, which makes you feel like you are in a scene from a movie or a music video. If you are keen on taking great travel photos, you cannot miss out on this spot.
Here you can also find the statues of Hideie Ukita (ancient feudal lord) and his wife, Gohime. The island used to be a penal colony and Hideie was the first person to be deported here and spent about 50 years of his later life here until his death. His wife, Gohime, was not allowed to accompany him but kept sending supplies to her husband and sons, who were also deported to the island, and prayed for their safety until her death. These statues were erected in memory of the couple with their eyes looking far off in the direction of Okayama City, their home town. Information: Map
Now let’s take look at some of the nice dining places and cafes around the island.
This is the best place to enjoy fresh seafood. Here you can enjoy voluminous dishes made with fish and other ingredients sourced locally on the island. For lunch, the set meals containing sashimi of thick cuts of local fish or fresh-fried tempura are very popular. Information: Map
Tristan is a cafe that can easily be missed by many tourists but perfectly caters to those looking for a stylish hideaway. The wooden interior feels warm and very relaxing. With classical music playing in the background and tables surrounded by an array of interesting books, photos and musical instruments, the cafe is filled with a sophisticated atmosphere.
The Naporitan style spaghetti served here is quite satisfactory in both taste and portion. The cafe is open until 9 PM, so you can come by this relaxing cafe after dark, sit back and talk about your good experiences on the island while enjoying the dinner. Information: Map
This cafe serves a set of three pieces of cake and one drink extremely cheaply priced at 600 Yen. Each piece of cake is not of mini but regular size, which makes the cheap price almost enigmatic. With tasty cake, and bright and comfortable atmosphere of the interior, this is a perfect place to drop by when you want to take a break after touring around the island. Information: Map
Tokyo still has many places that remain relatively unknown. But Hachijo-jima Island, with its rich nature and a laid-back and paradise-like atmosphere, stands out as a very rare example among them. Bustles and hustles in the urban setting can surely be enjoyable, but if you ever have a chance, come find this another great part of Tokyo and enjoy more peaceful time on the island.