The climate is subtropical. Plants from southern countries, such as ferns, palm trees, bougainvillaeas, and hibiscuses, cover the island. Meet Hachijo-jima Island, a small subtropical island like Okinawa, located 287 kilometres south of Tokyo, Japan. I was thrilled to be invited for a 3 days 2 nights media familiarisation trip to get to know this amazing island. As someone who has been to Tokyo umpteen times, this island visit was a refreshing change.
Hachijo-jima Island comprises of Hachijo Fuji, Mount Mihara, and two small volcanoes in the eastern and western parts of the island. In addition to the blue seas unique to an outlying island, it also offers nature trekking through lush greenery and plenty of hot springs with bountiful water to enjoy.
The journey started after a long six-hour flight via Japan Airlines on 18th October 2016. I patiently waited at the Narita Airport Arrival exit for my tour guide, Akihiro Futamura, a 24 years old lanky looking arts undergraduate, who accompanied me to the island and was also his maiden trip. After a few awkward initial moments, he warmed up to me and explained the itinerary for the next few days before we headed to Takashiba Station to board the ship by Tokai Kisen.
What an adventure it was! Upon reaching the port, a huge yellow large passenger ship, Tachibana-Maru, with a passenger capacity of 1000 people, looks eager to transport me to my much-awaited destination.
After a light meal at the ferry terminal, we boarded the ship and immediately checked into our common room. To my pleasant surprise, I realised it was the second-class cabin where I had to sleep on the futon bed.
Artist and the honorary captain, Ryohei Yanagihara named this ship and picked the bright striking colours for its exterior.
The ship’s amenities include a restaurant, vending machines, shower room, children’s playroom etc.
The elevator offers you a smooth access from an entrance to the barrier-free area.
Here are other options if you are into a much more comfortable room for your overnight trip.
My first item on my itinerary upon reaching the friendly island was a snorkelling expedition where I was greeted by a local Japanese trainer. After a light mandatory warm-up and briefing made in native Japanese language, my guide and I were catapulted into the mysteries and wonders of the underwater world as we slowly discover the beauty and sceneries of the island. How amazing, the marine life in this island looks surreal, but peaceful and calming at the same time.
Interestingly, I became extremely hungry after the short snorkelling expedition and was secretly craving for good Japanese food. Fortunately my very attentive guide Akihiro had it all sorted out. ‘We are going to have the best Ashitaba noodles in this island’, he exclaimed. I jumped with excitement as I realised that Meidai Ikkyuuan is a restaurant in Hachijo Island which specialises in Ashitaba Soba and Ashitaba Udon. “Ashitaba” means “Tomorrow’s Leaf” and is a plant typically found in Hachijo Island, very rich in Vitamin B. My lunch was Ashitaba Cold Soba as it was my all-time favourite option whenever I travel to Japan. I ordered an extra Curry rice as I was hopelessly famished then.
After the hearty and satisfying meal, I was elated to learn that Onsen is next on the card.
Finally, I get to soak myself in the hot spring, which I can absolutely rest and relax in stillness. Kashitate Mukaizato Onsen was not easy to locate.
Akihiro went around asking people about the transport options and finally, we boarded a local bus which took approximately 20 minutes to reach the destination.
After 30 minutes of hot soak, we headed back to our hotel. It was approximately 5pm and we were both tired from the eventful string of activities prepared for us. Nap was next. I knocked out and slept for approximately two hours before being woken up by Akihiro for dinner.
Dinner was served and prepared by the hotel owner, who was an excellent chef.
I was just thrilled by the home-cooked Japanese food, which not only looks good, but delectable and flavorful. No Complaints!
No prize for guessing the quality of my sleep on my second night, it was restful; after a day of fun-filled activities and heavenly Japanese food. I was very satisfied with the hotel stay as the place was very cosy and quiet.
I finally said goodbye to the home keeper and took a few fun and candid shots together.
I finally said goodbye to the island and thank my guide Akihiro who has been extremely accommodative and attentive to my needs during my stay.
Japan has always been my top travelling destinations throughout my life. Having travelled several times to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, visiting Hachijo-jima Island was a surprising change and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I enjoyed the slow pace of life and the beauty of the island. The people were extremely friendly and sincere. Food takes on a more authentic taste, which you possibly cannot find in the main Japanese cities.
If you are into nature, diving, hiking and island life, it is a destination to consider. It is only 1-hour flight (from Haneda airport) and just over 10 hours cruise from Tokyo if you prefer a slow and relaxing travel. If you are taking the ferry, I would suggest a special first class cabin stay at least. I would recommend a two-night stay in the island to fully experience the wonders it can offer.
This trip was part of a Tokyo PR project sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan government. Thank you Japan for facilitating this trip.
By Plane: Haneda Airport – Hachijojima Airport (time required: approximately 55 minutes)
By Boat: Tokyo/Takeshiba Pier – Hachijojima Island Sokodo Port (time required: approximately 10 hours)
For more information, you can check out Hachijojima Island Government Office 2345-1 Okago, Hachijo-machi, Hachijo-jima, call their Tokyo hotline: 04996-2-1121 or visit www.town.hachijo.tokyo.jp