We are here today to talk about a place in Japan that many of you will probably have never heard of, let alone seen. I’m talking, of course, about the beautiful Japanese island of Amami Oshima. If you would like to know more about this amazing mysterious place, and maybe plan your next trip to a part of Japan you never knew existed, then read on and we will learn something together. Be warned, you may find a new place to fall in love with, and come away with an intense desire to visit. Enjoy!
Cover photo credit: Vanquish0
Where is Amami Oshima?
Amami Oshima is the largest island of the Amami archipelago, and is part of a group of islands known as the Satsunan islands, located in the east China sea. To give you a little perspective, it is around one hundred and thirty nautical miles north of Okinawa. So, it stretches far into the tropical east China sea, and this gives it something wondrous: the island is surrounded by Coral Reef. Coral Reef is on the verge of extinction, so many people are trying to save it as much as possible, and that’s why marine biologists flock to this island on a regular basis from all over the world. Of course, there is always scuba diving for holiday makers as well.
The History of the Island
The island has a vast history, that dates back to its first recorded existence as part of Japan in Nihon Shoki, a Japanese chronicle from the year 657 AD. But, of course, there have been archaeological digs on this island which put the dates back even further, to a time period called the Japanese Palaeolithic period, when archaeologists and historians alike agree is when it was most likely first settled.
However, the history of the island isn’t all happy, as in World War Two the American Military took control of the island and remained in control until the mind 1950s, when it was handed back over to the Japanese Government. And, one other thing, in recent times, as recent as the year 2001, there was a naval battle between Japanese Coast Guard ships and a North Korean trawler, which made worldwide news, and the North Korean vessel was sunk in the process.
Don’t worry, though, as it is now a safe haven for paradise lovers, as you well see as you read on.
Animal and Plant Life
We have just mentioned the amazing Coral Reef that surrounds the island, but Japan, being one of the most diverse places on earth for flora and fauna (plant and animal life), and with this island being tropical, there is no doubt that you will see some things here that are impossible to see in the rest of the world.
One of the islands main attractions is the beautiful waters that surround it, and during the winter time you may be able to catch a glimpse of the most endangered whale in the world. I’m talking about the Pacific Right Whale. This is the only place on earth where there have been sightings of this whale in over a century. You are completely free to take a ship out to the surrounding waters every winter, and experience regular sightings of the humpback whale, something that is on many peoples bucket lists. Is it on yours?
This island has survived for many, many years now not just on tourism, but on its agriculture industry. The agriculture on this island is very large, and paves the way for the island’s inhabitants to live long, strong and happy lives. The main form of agriculture is that of pure sugar cane. But, there’s also a large sector of sweet potato cultivation, and, along with the rest of Japan, significant rice production. This isn’t just any ordinary rice producing place, though, because the island has a type of climate (warm, tropical) that allows it two rice crops per year, whereas many places that produce rice have only one crop per year. There was once a very large production of high quality silk produced on this island, but this has slowly but surely fallen to a smaller production over the last few decades.
Many of you may not be aware of this, but in Japan there are many languages spoken. The main one, of course, being Japanese, but on the smaller islands there are other languages that may have some similarities to Japanese, but should not be confused. The Amami language, for example, is very ancient indeed. They have two different dialects which kind of split the island in two. The main one is mainly spoken in the north. Sadly, though, there are fears of these languages dying out as younger generations are only fluent in Japanese, and not in the traditional Amami language, unlike their elders. It has come to a point in recent years where even UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has regarded these languages spoken by the Amami people as officially endangered, and on the verge of complete extinction within the next couple of generations. So, if you want to learn about the original Amami languages, then now is the best time to go and visit this magical place and its fascinating inhabitants.
You may be fooled into thinking that as the island is where it is geographically, that the routes on and off this island are very few and far between and even may be too difficult to think about. You would be wrong, though, because the transport links in and out of Amami Oshima are absolutely excellent. We’ll start with Amami airport. Other than being a hub for light air transport to nearby and surrounding islands, there are also links to major Japanese cities such as Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Naha, and even Osaka. And don’t worry, they also have a direct link to Tokyo Airport, which I’m sure is one of the most important transport links you could think of.
There is also one of the main ports in the whole of the East China Sea, situated on Amami Oshima. The Naze port is a major spot for ferries to and from the surrounding islands, and even back to the mainland of Japan. It is also essential for the shipping of their agricultural goods to Japan, and the rest of the world too.
So, there you have it. The wonderful paradise island of Amami Oshima. If you have never been to a tropical island before then make this your first one. I promise you, you will want to come back again and again.
6 Books to Read to Help You Understand Japan
One of the best ways to get to know Japan and to better understand Japanese culture is by reading books by Japanese authors, stories set in Japan, or some of the classic works of Japanese literature. While Japan guidebooks can be a great source of information and can help with planning travel, Japanese literature can [...]
Ultra Street: A Haven for Ultraman Fans
Tokyo is a hidden treasure trove for Japanese film lovers. If you’re an Ultraman fan looking to go off the beaten path of popular tourist attractions, then Setagaya ward has a lovely surprise waiting for you in “Ultra Town.” Ultra Town: Birthplace of Ultraman Why the name? Simple: Soshigaya Okura, located in Setagaya Ward, is known as the official birthplace of Ultraman. Until its recent relocation, this city was home to Tsurubaya Productions, which fans may recognize as the special effects studio that introduced Ultraman to the world. For those unfamiliar, the character Ultraman is a superhero from a galaxy...
Survivor’s Guide To the Japanese Language
The following is a survivor’s guide to the Japanese language. In particular, this is directed to the typical tourist to Japan. The typical tourist to Japan speaks no Japanese, and why should he? The Japanese language is radically different from other languages, and as opposed to languages such as Spanish, Arabic, or English, which are used in many countries, the Japanese language is essentially used only in Japan. Also, as a tourist, you will not have the time to study or retain the language, and besides, you will be busy visiting onsens, hiking Mt. Fuji, eating great food, and generally...
Where to Drink Japanese Craft Beer in Tokyo
The craft beer scene in Japan has exploded in recent years with an increase in the number of craft breweries in the major cities as well as the quality of beer and the varieties offered. Although craft breweries in Japan only gained traction in the late 1990s when the country deregulated the brewing industry by lowering the annual output required for a brewing license, Japan has quickly caught up internationally and now boasts several award-winning beers as well as distinctive seasonal brews only offered in Japan. As a craft beer fanatic living in Tokyo, I have enjoyed trying out what...
3 Hidden Gems to Visit in Japan
Japan has become one of the most favourite holiday destinations for world travelers. Japan has also been known for its unique culture, food, and famous streets. Visitors usually come to Japan to go shopping and take a walk in Shibuya or Harajuku, taste Japanese sushi, try kimono or yukata. The list of places that tourist visits are more or less already known by many people and too mainstream. Actually, if you try to explore Japan more deeply, you will find many amazing hidden gems you did not expect to exist in Japan. Here we go: 1.Tottori Sand Dunes Have you...
One Size Fits All? What you need to know about Clothing Size...
Japan is a shopper’s paradise. With high rise boutique shopping centers, endless underground mazes of malls, to the bustling shopping streets in Shibuya and Harajuku—there are endless opportunities for shopping just in Tokyo! Shibuya is Tokyo’s most famous shopping neighborhood. Japan is at the forefront of global style and trends, and you can find a wide variety of unique fashions that are exclusive to Japan. But, what can foreigners expect while shopping in Japan? One important thing to consider is size. The most common question I get from people thinking about traveling to Japan is “Will Japanese clothes fit me?”....