Best Islands of Japan

By Swathi Ramaswamy on Jun 01, 2018
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A trip to Japan with your loved ones is no fun if you do not visit some of the stunning islands of the country. Yes, you must explore a few of the hidden gems of Japan, surrounded by sea and a popular tourist hotspot for its rare and picturesque islands. Tired of the city of Tokyo and looking to escape to one of these gems of the country? Not a problem! Ditch the city life and its mundane settings. Embrace nature instead. Here are some of the best islands of Japan that you must explore:

1. Enjoy the Scenic Beauty of Matsushima

The island is located north of Sendai, stunningly beautiful and scenic. Matsushima is seated in a bay down the coast of Pacific. Popularly called the ‘Three Views of Japan, this island has captured the hearts of many nature lovers and travelers alike. You will find islands small, tiny, and floating on the turquoise waters of Matsushima Bay, a sight to behold! The colorful pines further add to the beauty of this place, thus retaining nature’s wilderness. The beautiful pines grow, making the island lush green. Revel in the beauty of the white waves crashing on the rock walls. The island is so stunningly picturesque that it leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. Therefore, if you want to witness the real beauty of Japan, Matsushima is the place to be.

Besides the natural beauty, the island is also dotted with many temples including Zuigan-Ji Temple, established in the ninth century. The island also has a coveted spot for moon viewing. The sunrises and sunsets of Matsushima too will leave you enthralled. The major activities include fishing, temple and museum visits, and cruise trips on the blue waters of the island. You can reach Matsushima by air, buses, car, and boat service.

2. Appreciate Art in Naoshima

This is a tiny island floating on top of the Seto Inland Sea and is located north of Kagawa Prefecture. Besides the lush greenery, you love to explore Naoshima for its art and craft. The island is segmented into three areas. Head for the Umi-no-Eki, a tourist information center, if you want to learn more about the island during your visit. You will also find a souvenir shop close by if you want to collect objet d’art of the renowned Yayoi Kusama, the Red Pumpkin. If you walk for 40 minutes, you can visit the Chichu Museum, which displays Monet’s Water Lilies, the Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin, and the Benesse House and Museum. The primary activity in Naoshima is exploring the centers of art and museums. The favorite tourist activities include sunbathing on the beaches, swimming, fishing, camping, and indulging in nature walks to appreciate the stunning landscapes of the island. You can also visit many of the restaurants and coffee shops for tasting some of the lip-smacking seafood, straight from the Seto Inland Sea. You can reach the island by air, train, boat, bus, rental bike, ferry service, or get around the place on foot.

3. Enjoy Nature at its Best at Sensuijima Island

Seated right at the center of the Setonaikai National Park has nature at its best, not touched by humankind. You will find only two hotels with no one living on Sensuijima Island. The last ferry leaves the place at 9.35 pm. Therefore, if you have a taste for deserted and isolated island far from the maddening crowd of the city, this place is your best bet. You will find complete peace and tranquility in its surroundings. All you can do is enjoy the scenic views in silence with your loved one. The unique feature of Sensuijima Island is its sea fireflies. And their blue light glowing in the water during night gives the island a magical and mysterious appeal. The one and only site in the country is Goshikiiwa, which has colored rocks including red, blue, white, yellow, and back for a continuous stretch of one kilometer on the shore, while you are exploring this island. The activities include enjoying the night firefly tour between June and September, hiking, and taking a tour of the island. You will also find a sauna in a cave, open-air baths, where you can soak yourself for an hour. The other activities include swimming, camping, salt making, and pottery in one of the participatory events on the island. You can reach Sensuijima by air, ship cruise, boat, and ferry service.

4. Revel in the Beauty of Sakurajima’s Active Volcano


If you love mountains and volcanic islands, then Sakurajima is the past for you to explore. The active volcano seated on Kinko Bay rises to an altitude of 1,117 meters with a circumference and area of 52 kilometers and 80 square kilometers respectively. The volcanic mountain was formed some 26,000 years before with 17 momentous eruptions to its credit. Even to this day, the mountain erupts occasionally, but they are small in proportions. The major attraction is the smoke emanating from the volcano, which attracts many tourists from all over the globe. Explore this picturesque island with your family or friends. However, due to the smoke, you’ll not be allowed to explore the two-kilometer zone around the two calderas. Tourists can reach the highest point but restricted to the fourth stage of the northern peak, which is called the Yunohira Observation Deck. The scenic views include the Kinko Bay, the mountain, and the city Kagoshima just below. Explore the Sakurajima Lava Nagisa Park, where you can take a breather at a 100-meter long footbath through a natural hot spring while appreciating the beauty of the island. On your way to the island, you can slurp on noodles while spotting dolphins in the waters. The major activities include taking a foot bath, bathing in Magma hot spring, visiting Kurokami Buried Shrine Gate, and spoiling tour taste buds with Sakurajima mikan ice cream, an island specialty. And yes, do not miss the nature dinosaur park if you have kids with you. You can reach the island by air and get around the island through ferry service, tour bus, and city bus service.

5. Take Delight in the Flowers of Nokono Island

Do you want to explore an island that floats on Hakata Bay? If the answer is yes, then Nokono Island is your best choice. The island is known for its famous blossoms and Nokono Island Park, covering an area of 15,000 square meters. The park spreads out to the northern point of Nokono Island. The place boasts of the best and colorful blooms throughout the year. Visit this scenic place with your family and kids to appreciate the breathtaking view of the flower-swathed hill of Hakata Bay. You will take delight in the picturesque flower gardens stretching all over the slope all through the season. The flowers look lively and ripe during the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – yes, we are talking about spring. And if you visit Nokono Island during fall, the colorful blossoms will look stunning as well. There are activities galore for tourists and travel enthusiasts in Nokono.

You can head for the Nokono Island camp Village if you love swimming. The best time of the year to visit this place is between May and September. You may take delight in other activities as well, including banana boating, swimming, barbequing, playing volleyball, badminton, and golf. Your kids can feed the rabbits and goats at the Island Park. The island is the perfect family destination where adults can have a gala time on volleyball courts and soccer pitches. You have the facility to rent the sports stuff on the island. Tourists can reach Nokono Island by air, ship cruise, and bus service. You can get around the place by ferry services from Meihama area in Japan.

6. Hashima or Gunkanjima for James Bond Fan

Known as the ‘Battleship Island’, Hashima has earned its name from the deserted island in one of the popular James Bond movie, ‘Skyfall and’ and ‘Attack on Titan, both of which were filmed on this island. So, if you or your kids are a James Bond, then this island is your best option for a summer or spring vacation in Japan. It is also known as the ghost island, which was abandoned in the 70s when the coal mining closed. Fortunately, with the recognition from UNESCO and cameo movie, the once forgotten island is now a coveted tourist destination for many. You can get around the island with a rented vessel ship, offering you a tour of Hashima. When you will step-off the boat, you will feel that you are entering sci-fi world just as you see in popular Hollywood movies. The unique attractions of the island are the crumbling brick structures, big twisted girders, and shrubbery proving that a whole community inhabited the place once. The guided tours are the major activities on this island. You can reach Hashima by air. And if you want to get around the place, the only option is the ferry service or boat ride. However, these rides depend on the weather leading to tour cancellations or an extremely uncomfortable ferry ride.

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