Image of: Bonin Islands in Japan

Islands of Japan – Ogasawara Islands Travel Guide

This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 06:24 pm

About 1,000 kilometers from Japan, but still within the national borders, are the Ogasawara Islands, also called the Bonin Islands. It is a paradise for nature lovers with pristine beaches surrounded by tropical waters and coral. Snorkeling, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, and walking along beautiful trails are all possible here.


The Ogasawara Islands

The islands excel in beautiful nature. The pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear water, inland nature, the night sky, and whale watching is not the first thing you think of when traveling to Japan. Yet you will find it here.


Located in the Pacific Ocean, separated from civilization, this is truly a paradise on earth.


The islands are a group of 30 tropical and sub-tropical islands. The islands are also known as Bonin Islands which is derived from the Japanese word “Bunin” meaning “no people” or “uninhabited”.


Image of: Gorgeous view of the Bonin Islands
Gorgeous view of the Bonin Islands


It has not been completely uninhabited since the 1800s and today 2,500 people live in Chichi-Jima and Haha-Jima, the only inhabited islands. This is also where the ferry from Tokyo arrives. On these islands, you will also find the restaurants and the best accommodations as well as beautiful beaches.


Other beautiful islands of Japan are those of Okinawa


Isolated From the Mainland

Because the Ogasawara Islands are so remote, the plants and animals are developed differently here. The islands in this archipelago excel in beauty. The beaches, the water, the underwater world, nature on the islands.


Everything here is wonderfully beautiful and the Ogasawara Islands can be seen as the most beautiful islands in Japan. It is not for nothing that it has the nickname “The Galápagos of the Orient” and the Ogasawara Islands have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2011.


Image of: The island of Iwo Jima, south in Ogasawara Islands
View of Iwo Jima from the boat. South in the Ogasawara Islands


History of the Ogasawara Islands

The history of the islands is just as special as nature here. The Japanese had already discovered the Ogasawara islands in the 16th century, but it was Europeans who made the first whaling settlements around the year 1830.


The descendants, also called “obeikei”, still live on the islands. That is why you may occasionally come across a western face or name. In 1853 it was Matthew Perry who came across the islands and called them the Bonin Islands. In 1875 that name changed to Ogasawara when the Meiji government claimed the area.


Accessibility of the Ogasawara islands

The islands are not very easy to reach and to enjoy nature here you have to work for it. The only way to get here is by ferry from Tokyo. A journey of 26 hours, but well worth it in the end.


You then arrive at Chichi-Jima, the main island. A smaller boat will take you to Haha-Jima, the other inhabited island.


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