Travel Destinations: Izu-Shoto, Japan
Also known in English as Izu Seven Islands, these are semi-tropical islands created from the submerged volcanic peaks. It wasn’t until the early 20thcentury that this island chain was a place of exile; today, it is a wonderful and popular tourist destination.
You can get to the islands by taking a ferry from Tokyo at the Takeshiba Pier; if you leave around 10am you can reach the islands by early next morning. You may be able to catch a ferry from Atami and Ito as well.
As O-shima is the closest island to the mainland, it is the most popular as well as being the largest at 91 sq km. The highlight of any trip to this island is Mihara-yama, a volcano which last erupted in 1996, forcing residents to seek refuge in Tokyo. Other places to visit include Hama-no-yu, a onsen near the port and Oshima Onsen Hotel, an outdoor onsen bath.
The smallest of the islands, To-shima is located 27km southwest of O-shima. It is a beautiful mountainous island, with a dormant volcano sleeping peacefully underneath. There are no swimming beaches on this island but the island is simply stunning as it is a place to cultivate camellias; the flowers bloom magnificently between December and February.
Nii-jima is one of the most popular islands in the chain due to its wonderful beaches on offer. The sand is soft and white at the Maehama beach, which stretches for 4km. The Yunohama Hot Springs offers the chance to soak away your cares as you admire the spectacular views of the ocean. On the other side of the island, you can find another excellent beach where the waves are ideal for those who like to surf. Another great attraction here is the Glass Art Centre where you can watch some beautiful pieces being made from the local Koga stone.
Measuring 3.8 sq km, this island is only visited for its lovely beaches and for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world.
The third largest island in the chain, it is home to a volcano which is said to erupt every 20 years. The last time it happened was in 2002 and all the residents were evacuated to Tokyo.
The second largest and the southernmost island, it is home to two volcanoes – Machijo-Fuji and Mihara-yama, both covered in the most amazingly lush vegetation. There are some wonderful places to visit here; the beaches are beautiful, there is a botanical garden to wander around, the shrine of Tametomo-jinja and the beautiful Sofuku-ji temple. You cannot miss the chance to experience one of the onsen baths here either.