Follow us on SNS

Writer:Kazuya Yamaguchi

Hello. I’m Kazuya Yamaguchi.
I’m 32 years old, living in Yoyogi Uehara, Tokyo. After working at a planning section of a big manufacturer, I’m working for Buyers Guide Inc., which matches local foods and buyers for retail stores and other establishments.
At the same time, on weekends I visit Niijima Island, an island of Tokyo for leisure with my friends and enjoy a life based in the two places. On my articles I would like to gradually introduce Niijima Island of great depth that I have experienced during over 100 times visits from both inside and outside viewpoints.

Niijima Island and Me

May 13, 2015

  • Share this page

A beach and a sea

Niijima Island is a nice getaway spot about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the south of Tokyo. The island is mostly known for its white sandy beaches, awesome waves, and the beautiful sea surrounding it but it is also famous for Kusaya (a fish dipped in fermented liquor and dried in the sun) and Moyai statues. Interestingly, the cars on the island all have a "Shinagawa" license plate (in Japan license plates have the area in which the car was bought, listed on them. Shinagawa is a part of Tokyo far away from the island.)

Niijima Island is actually a part of the larger, Niijima Village, which consists of Niijima and Shikine islands. The population is growing older and as a result the population as a whole has sharply decreased in past years.

About 30 years ago in Japan, going off with your partners or friends to secluded islands was a major fad. People in their 50s and 60s right now may remember the island as a place where they could find some romance. The image was so prevalent that it was called "Nampa-jima" (get-hit-on island) back in the day! Many young people sailed to the island with dreams of adventure and freedom. According to the legendary figures who supported the culture of the island back in the day, a great spectacle awaited visitors as they reached the island; something that I will tell you guys about another time.

The major industries of Niijima Island are tourism and public works. Surprisingly and unfortunately, fishing and farming are not major sources of income for the island. Tourists come to the island around Golden Week (beginning of May) and the island remains somewhat crowded throughout the Summer, but in the Winter months there are hardly any visitors. Back in the day the island was apparently as crowded as Shibuya is nowadays. Currently the island doesn't have as many visitors and it's safe to say you won't be bumping into anybody during your stay on the island.

Although Niijima Island is about 100 miles south of Tokyo, the temperature of the island is almost the same as that of Tokyo. The summer nights are cooler than nights in Tokyo because the island is surrounded by the sea. Be careful of sunburns in the summertime! I recommend putting on some sunscreen to protect against the sun's powerful rays.

In the wintertime there are many strong winds that come in contact with the island. In fact, it isn't uncommon that a wind comparable to that of a typhoon blows thru. These winds are called “Nishinkaze" (the wind from the west) in Japanese. Because of the Nishinkaze, the seas become tumultuous and the ferry services are often canceled in the winter.

Shima-zushi (sushi in the Izu Islands)

Moyai statue

I visited Niijima in November of 2009. I experienced some of the above but for the most part it was a very relaxed atmosphere, having settled down a bit since the summertime. As part of a school lesson, my classmates and I boarded a ferry at the Takeshiba Pier one night and reached Niijima Island the next morning. The moment I stepped onto the island I caught a breath of fresh air. I felt like I had become one with nature! I could feel the energy of the sea, the calming silence, and the beauty of the sight before me. Normally in the city, I would have to read signs to get various pieces of information but here, it was all about nature. I was fascinated by it all; the people of the island were equally fascinating and very friendly too! The island seriously stole my heart.

On our way home we all promised each other that we'd do something good for the island. That was 5 years ago. Currently, I'm renting a house and a field on the island and I support local farmers and participate in various events on the island. I live and work in Tokyo at times, and I live and work on the island at times. I honestly feel so blessed to be living such a lifestyle.

The beauty of the sight

Many foreigners come to the island in the summertime for the one-of-a-kind atmosphere and the chill nature of the island. I feel that they understand and appreciate the beauty of the island life more so than their Japanese counterparts.

Next time I would like to introduce more about the specifics of the island and its various attractions. I will start off with how exactly you can get to the island and then I will tell you about what exactly it is that you can do on the island.

Hopefully reading my article has piqued your interest in the island! It really is a wonderful place and I hope you guys get a chance to visit it sometime in the future!

A white beach

A land-tied island

A camellia

Jusansha Shrine

A beautiful sunset