Exploring the Beauty of Izu Oshima Island


Izu Oshima is the largest of the Izu Islands, a group of volcanic islands under the administration of Tokyo, close in proximity to the Izu Peninsula. The island is popular as a tourist destination because of its short instance from Tokyo, just about 100 kilometers south of the capital, and many attractions.

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Attractions about Volcanoes

Mount Mihara

Hardened lava sediments from the 1986 eruption can be seen along the gentle hiking trails leading up the northern slopes of Mount Mihara. It takes 45 minutes on the northwestern trail or 60 minutes from Miharayama Onsen to hike to the top of the mountain. At the summit, the trail circles the caldera which measures 300 meters in diameter and 200 meters in depth, providing breathtaking scenery.

Izu Oshima Museum of Volcanoes

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 500 yen

Museum of Volcanoes via Odigo

The informational museum covers topics such as volcano structures, formation, geography and explosion patterns. It shows vivid footage of various volcanic eruptions, including that of the 1986 Mount Mihara eruption. In one of the exhibition rooms, a collection of photographs of volcanoes around the world is displayed, along with volcanic rock and lava specimen samples. Limited English information presents a shortcoming to the otherwise interesting museum.

Volcanic Cliffs

Along the main road at the southwestern side of the island is a stretch of about 700 meters of cliffs that are the cross section of a volcanic stratum. Layers of volcanic sediment are clearly visible in the cliffs, making them a curious yet beautiful sight.

Fudeshima Island

At the southeastern coast about ten minutes by car from Habu Port is an observation point where nice coastal views and a small island named Fudeshima can be seen. The island was formed by hardened volcanic rock and is thus named because it is shaped like a brush.

Hot Springs

The thermal activity occurring underground Oshima produces a few hot springs. The thermal waters can be enjoyed at some public baths and ryokan the latter of which open their baths also to non-staying guests during the day for typically 500 to 1000 yen. Below are two of the baths accessible to daytime visitors:

Miharayama Onsen

Daytime hours: 6:00 to 9:00, 13:00 to 21:00
Datetime admission: 800 yen
Overnight Stay: From 15,000 yen per person including 2 meals
This hot spring bath belongs to the Oshima Onsen Hotel, and is open to day visits. There is one indoor and one outdoor bath for each gender. On clear days, beautiful views of Mount Mihara can be enjoyed while taking a dip in the outdoor baths.

Motomachi Hama no Yu

Hours: 13:00 to 19:00 (from 11:00 in July and August)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 400 yen
Hama no Yu is a relaxing open-air bath situated just by the sea. Swimsuits are required at this mixed-gender bath.

Camellia Flower

Izu Oshima Camellia Festival 2016 via amuzen

Perhaps nowhere else in Japan can so many Camellia (Tsubaki) plants of different varieties be found at a single location than on Oshima. The plants’ flowering periods differ by variety, but many are in bloom from January through March across the island, especially in February. A festival is held from around late January to late March. The best place to view camellia is Oshima Park which showcases thousands of camellia plants of around 450 varieties. Oil extracts from tsubaki seeds are used in popular hair and skin products that have become famous nationwide under the Oshima Tsubaki brand.

Habu Port

At the southern end of the island lies Habu Port (Habu Minato), surrounding an inlet which used to be a crater lake until a tsunami connected it to the sea in 1703. The area around the fishing port has a laid back atmosphere which has inspired the creation of many artistic works in the past such as the song “Habu no Minato”. Some sites of interest in the vicinity of the port are:

Habu Town

The small fishing town at the port provides nice photographing opportunities, including a nostalgic alley with old-fashioned looking houses behind the docking area.

Odoriko no Sato Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Odoriko are “dancing girls”, a profession popularly depicted in a novel by the late Kawabata Yasunari, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The ryokan-turned museum commemorates the odoriko who were active in the Izu Region in the 1900s. Displays of life-sized odoriko models can be seen in wide tatami floored rooms which provide a glimpse of the interior decor of the former ryokan.

Kyujinnomaru Tei

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
This house stands above a steep slope east of the port and used to be the estate of the head of the fishermen’s union during the Meiji Period. Visitors can walk in the residence’s garden, enter the building and view its wide tatami floored rooms and function spaces. It is connected with the port below via a long flight of stone steps.

Habu Port Observation Deck

The observation deck, located along the main road on higher grounds north of the port, provides nice views over the port town.

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