Tropical islands do not often come to mind, when thinking of Japan. But after Japan’s four main islands there are another 6500 plus islands. The Ogasawara Island group is considered part of Tokyo but it could not be further in distance or in feel.
The Ogasawara group consists of over thirty sub-tropical and tropical World Heritage Listed islands. Located some 1000kms south east of Tokyo, and with no airport the only way to reach this paradise is by a 25 hour ferry ride.
The main island is Chichijima (father island) and has a population of 2000 and the only other island inhabited is Hahajima (mother island) with a population of about 200. The ferry has a maximum of 700 people, so the incredible natural beauty of the islands is never crowded.
The island does not have a long history of being inhabited and the first permanent colony was set up by an American in 1830. Japan and America did a bit of island swapping over the years, including a fierce battle in WWll which left the islands to the Americans. In 1968 however, they were given back to Japanese control.
War seems a strange thought in the beautiful and peaceful place that is Ogasawara now. On Chichijima, beaches have white sand, coral at their fringes and large parrot fish enjoy the bluest water you can imagine. Steep cliffs rise up in between beaches and give the smaller islands impressive profiles. Inland, mountain scenery with green ferns and palms contains nothing dangerous except for one type of centipede. There is an incredible island community and the locals really do enjoy their surroundings. Children’s playgroup, English lessons, birthday parties, farewells all take place on the beach, amongst kayaks, paddle boards and snorkels.