Aogashima is a volcanic Japanese island in the Philippine Sea. The island is surrounded by very steep rugged cliffs of layered volcanic deposits. The southern coast also rises to a sharp ridge forming one edge of a caldera named Ikenosawa with a diameter of 1.5 km.
The island is mentioned in Edo period records kept at Hachijō-jima, which record volcanic activity in 1652, and from 1670-1680. An earthquake swarm in July 1780 was followed by steam rising from the lakes in the Ikenosawa Caldera. Further earthquakes in May 1781 led to an eruption.
Located in the Kuroshio region of open seas and known for tidal wave generation, the island is barely reachable except by boat. The island has no real habour to anchor boats due to the steep rugged cliffs of layered volcanic deposits that surrounds the entire island.
The other option is to take a helicopter provided by Tokyo Island Shuttle Service. Both of them depart from Hachijojima, with the nearest island some 60km away. Before the helicopter service was launched in 1993, transportation of passengers, essential goods and food products used to be made by boat only, where people hardly knew when to expect arrival.
The helicopter runs once a day and carries only a maximum of 9 passengers. Many times it gets cancelled due to heavy fog, depending on the season.
As of 2009, the island’s population was 205 and it’s decreasing. The island has a primary school with about 25 students. When they reach the age of fifteen, they would to go to high school on the mainland and nobody knows if and when they will be back to Aogashima.
Aogashima, however, is a beautiful place to visit, and you can reach the island from Hachijo-jima by helicopter or ferry. There are hiking trails up to the rim of the interior volcano where you can cook eggs in the steam vents, beautiful views of the night sky absent light pollution, and a sauna powered by volcanic activity in town.
Relaxed, quiet, and beautiful, it serves as an escape from the mania of modern Tokyo. The island is quite well known for having a volcanic caldera within a larger caldera. So what you have is one big, giant crater, which is the island itself, inside which is nestled a much smaller version of itself.
This gives the whole island a rather mysterious appeal, almost like something out of a fantasy movie. It’s hard to believe there are such places still left in the world, untouched by noisy human activity.
This is where most of the amenities are located, such as a general store and a helipad. While it’s unrealistic to expect a great night life or gourmet food options in a place as remote as this, Aogashima isn’t totally devoid of activities to pursue.
For starters, it is a great place to relax and unwind, basking in all the serenity. Scuba diving is a popular activity in the intensely blue waters. You could also consider hiking and camping by the volcano, or visiting the volcanic hot springs.
In the very center of the island is a geothermal sauna. The main volcano has scalding hot steam vents around one side, which are used to power the public sauna – a perfect way to relax after a long day of hiking. You can even cook food at the steam vents, in the pots available outside the sauna to steam your goodies.