Meet Enchanting Seas and Forests on a Trip to the Ogasawara Islands

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Meet Enchanting Seas and Forests on a Trip to the Ogasawara Islands

Ogasawara quick guide

Twenty-four hours on Ogasawara-maru, departing regularly from Takeshiba Passenger Ferry Terminal, leads to the Ogasawara Islands far south of their governing home of Tokyo. The unique deep hue of the seas is dubbed Bonin blue, from the islands’ old name of Bunin, also read Munin and meaning “uninhabited.” This issue invites you to take a special trip and meet the vibrant, ethereal beauty of the Ogasawaras.

* The information given is as of July 2017.

Ogasawara quick guide

Ecosystem, history and culture, and even access—everything about the Ogasawaras is special. This section provides basic information for enjoying your trip even more.

About the Ogasawara Islands

Located 1,000 kilometers south of mainland Tokyo, the Ogasawaras comprise over 30 large and small islands that form Ogasawara Village, governed by Tokyo. The municipal seat is Chichijima, the only populated island apart from Hahajima. Lying at roughly the same latitude as Okinawa Prefecture, the Ogasawaras enjoy a steady, comfortable climate year round with an average annual temperature of 23ºC (73ºF).

Natural World Heritage Site

UNESCO lists the Ogasawara Islands as a natural World Heritage Site since 2011. The oceanic islands were never attached to any continent, and thus are home to native flora and fauna that have undergone a unique evolutionary process. For instance, about 94% of land snails and 36% of vascular plants are endemic species.

History & culture

Five Westerners and fifteen native Hawaiians arrived in the 19th century and became the first settlers. The Ogasawaras came under the control of Tokyo Prefecture in the Meiji period (1868–1912). They served a Japanese military base during the Pacific War, were occupied by the US Navy in the postwar years, and organized as the current Ogasawara Village in 1979. Exchanges with the former Japanese mandate of Micronesia have produced a unique island culture that remains strong today, as can be seen in the “South Sea dance.”

How to get there

The only access to the Ogasawaras is provided by Ogasawara-maru. The new model has an increased capacity of 894. Regular services depart Takeshiba Passenger Ferry Terminal, in Tokyo, and arrive 24 hours later at Futami Port, in Chichijima Island. The liner anchors in Chichijima for three days, and departs for Takeshiba in the afternoon of the fifth day. As such, visitors are required to plan a trip of at least six days—three nights, four days on the islands, plus on-board accommodation.

Photos courtesy of Ogasawara Village Tourism Bureau, Hahajima Tourism Association, Ogasawara Kaiun Co., Ltd., USK Coffee, Pat Inn, Healing Guesthouse Tetsuya, Craft Inn La Mere (listed in random order)

ACCESS TO ISLANDS

  • Invigorating 24-hour ferry ride
  • Seas of Chichijima, forests of Hahajima
  • Getting lost in Ogasawara time