Ogasawara Archipelago, Minamijima Island


Tokyo’s Tropical Archipelago

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Ogasawara is a Japanese archipelago encompassing 41 islands of the Pacific Ocean and is one of Tokyo’s four sub-prefectures. Under the administrative responsibility of the megalopolis, this group of islands extents over 1000 kilometers in the south of Chiba peninsula. Their rich wildlife had the islands of various sizes and sometimes deserted enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage.

Some of the Ogasawara Islands are particularly popular:

  • Chichijima and Hahajima (inhabited); then,
  • Mukojima, Okinotori; and,
  • Iwojima (whose name was made largely known thanks to Clint Eastwood’s movie, Letters from Iwo Jima).

It is said that the archipelago was first discovered in 1593 by Sadayori Ogasawara. It was only in 1876, however, that the islands were internationally recognized as an integral part of Japan. The first immigrants (5 Europeans and 15 Hawaiians) settled there as soon as 1830.

Ogasawara Archipelago, Minamijima Island 3

A little paradise with a tumultuous past

The population amounted 7,000 inhabitants in the 1920s thanks to the production of winter fruits and vegetables, and to the various fish (bonito, tuna, whale…) exploited. It was unfortunately its peak, as the beginning of World War II along with the deportation of 6,886 inhabitants to the mainland in 1944 depleted the archipelago from its people.

Sadly famous due to the Battle of Iwo Jima that caused 28,721 victims both on the American and Japanese sides, the islands were seized by the United States. In 1968, the population was eventually authorized to come back home, after the restitution of power to the Japanese central government. The archipelago slowly rebuilt and in April 1979 a local power rose 🌹 with a simple strategy: bet everything on nature and its natural park.

Ogasawara Archipelago, Whale watching 3

Unique culture and eco-responsible tourism

In fact, 58% of the archipelago is part of the "Ogasawara National Park", and it is home to the most beautiful forests of Japan. This incredibly rich wildlife, and sometimes endemic species, are particularly highlighted on Anijima and Hahajima islands. Thanks to its ties with Micronesia, the archipelago’s culture is also unique and remarkable, with traditional music and songs, and even the creation of the Ogasawara Hula in 1997.

The archipelago is protected from mass tourism, and visitors travel there first and foremost for nature, which is at the core of the activities available:

  • Hiking in the lush forest;
  • Diving in the blue cobalt water, and,
  • Off shore whale watching.

Traditional accommodations are available such as inns or little classical hotels 🏨, but camping is not allowed. Other particularity: the 24/24 konbini don’t exist in these territories !

⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Ogasawara and around.
By Kanpai Updated on July 04, 2023 Ogasawara