Updated: November 07, 2018
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The 9 Inhabited Izu Islands Of Tokyo: Their Distinctive Traits


There is a group of islands to the south of Tokyo called the Izu islands that are technically part of the metropolis. Here is what they look like and what they are famous for.

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The Izu Islands: Another Facet Of Tokyo

Understandably, most people are surprised to know that what is referred to as the Tokyo Metropolis, or the Tokyo Prefecture, also encompasses a volcanic archipelago inhabited by as many as 20,000 people. These are the Izu islands which are spread out some three hundred kilometres into the Pacific Ocean, south of mainland Tokyo. They aren't hard to access either as they are numerous companies offering frequent ferry rides to them from many different locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. The price depends on the type of boat you ride, which island you are going to, and the time of year.

From north to south, here are the nine inhabited Izu islands.

Izu Oshima 伊豆大島

Izu Oshima is the largest island of the archipelago and is also the one with the largest population (around 8,000 people). The most interesting feature of the island is the volcanic Mount Mihara (elevation of 764 m) and its walking path. It is also known for its hot springs and camellias.

To-shima 利島

To-shima is one of the smaller islands of the archipelago with an area of just 4,12 km. It is almost perfectly round. The highest point of the island is the peak of Mount Miyatsuka at 508 m. There is a small village of some 300 people on the shore. There are hiking paths in the mountain, a few small shrines, and the island is known as an open-air planetarium for its clear starry night sky.

Nii-jima 新島

Nii-jima is one of the more important islands population-wise (over 2,000 people). It is primarily known for its many beautiful beaches, some of which are particularly good for surfing. The island has a surf culture because of that.

Shikine-jima 式根島

This is the flattest and also the smallest of the populated islands of the archipelago. There is a nice observation area called the Kanbiki Observation Deck. For its size, the island has a surprising number of good hot springs.

Kozu-jima 神津島

Kozu-jima is known for having beautiful white sand beaches. It is a popular destination for families and couples alike who want to enjoy a relaxing time at the beach. The island is also popular for hiking. It has a population of nearly 2,000 people.

Miake-jima 三宅島

Miyake-jima is one of the bigger islands of the group, area-wise and population-wise. It has one of the highest peaks too in Mount Oyama at 815 m. This mountain is actually a volcano that has erupted as recently as in the year 2001. The island is otherwise known for its hiking (yes, you can hike on the volcano), its roads that are good for leisurely cycling, and its beaches.

Mikura-jima 御蔵島

Mikura-jima is one of the most scarcely populated of the islands but has the distinction of being the best spot for dolphin watching so it attracts a fair amount of tourism for that.

Hachijo-jima 八丈島

Hachijo-jima is the second largest island after Izu Oshima and it has also has the second largest population. It is the island with the highest peak of the group, which has an elevation of 854 m. You can see on the island beautiful green pastures, beaches and a generally mountainous terrain. Hachijo-jima has a remarkably well-preserved local culture. Indeed, the island even has its own language that is still spoken by some of its inhabitants! It has a remarkable food culture and even has some original dishes known throughout Japan such as a fermented fish called kusaya. There is a well-known botanical garden and many beautiful hot springs too.

Aogashima 青ヶ島

The southernmost inhabited island is Aogashima. It is also the one with the smallest population with fewer than 200 people living there. There is a spectacular view spot called Otonbu where you get a panoramic view of the island and surrounding ocean.
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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