Oshima Island Monitor Tour Report

A Trip to the Dreamy Island of Oshima where I frequently want to visit

Oshima is the closest to the city center of Tokyo among the Izu Islands. Located almost next to the Izu Peninsula, the Kuroshio Current has resulted in a warm climate all year round in Oshima.

We departed Tokyo for Oshima early in the morning on a high-speed boat from Takeshiba Pier. The boat ride time was 1 hour 45 minutes. It was a very comfortable ride, and we arrived at Oshima shortly while we were asleep.

Since the travel time is very short, we would recommend it to those people who are not very fond of boat rides. The TV screen on the boat showed promotional videos of each of the Izu islands, revealing all the exciting things we could do when we arrived.

Upon disembarking in Oshima, the people from the island who would be taking care of us on this tour came to greet us, and we received a welcome lei and took a photo together.

We were very excited since these were the people with whom we were going to have fun exploring Oshima.

Our First stop was café Kobayashi

On the north side of the island in an area called Senzu district, where we got to harvest the island’s popular winter crops such as daidai (bitter orange) at an orchard. Afterward, we used some of the harvest like the Ashitaba (an herb in the parsley family) to prepare local Oshima dishes for lunch.

Mrs. Kobayashi, our instructor, taught us some ways to make local cuisine that has been handed down to the locals. We squeezed the juice of the “Daidai” citrus fruits that we had harvested by ourselves, and made a local vegetable salad using the juice.

Also, we made tempura using the “Ashitaba” we harvested, and other local vegetables. We like eating tempura very much, but this was our first experience cooking tempura. It was a very interesting experience since we were taught how to make tempura properly.

Lunch of the day was, of course, Oshima’s local cuisine and the vegetable tempura we made by ourselves. I enjoyed being able to harvest new ingredients that I didn’t know, such as Ashitaba and daidai, and to experience new cooking methods that had been passed down from generation to generation. The freshly harvested ingredients were incredible, and the experience prompted memories of my grandparents cooking when I was a child to come back to me.

A VISIT TO SENZU NO KIRIDOSHI

After lunch, we took a walk in this Senzu district. The Senzu district has power spots that have been the setting of myths and legends in Oshima, as well as a promenade with beautiful scenery along the coast. But the best place we recommend is a place called “Senzu no kiridoshi.”

The “Senzu no Kiridoshi” is a place of huge trees with strong roots on both sides of walls of earth that surround the road. Moss covers the surroundings in a mysterious green, and the canopies are so high that they eclipse the sun. Stairways and paths lead into the ground, almost ushering you to a mystical world beyond our own. It’s not hard to see why this place is the subject of so many myths and urban legends, and we do recommend coming here to see it.

For the dessert after lunch, we visited the ice cream shop “Triton” where original ice cream made mainly from island ingredients has a reputation, and there are always more than 20 different kind of ice cream. We brought local lemons harvested in Oshima with us to make our own ice cream with the store manager, and we really enjoyed the ice cream that we made.

We love ice cream, but it was the first time we made our own ice cream. The method of making it was simple, just squeezing the lemon juice and putting it in a special machine with milk, but the taste of the freshly made ice cream we made was exceptional. While waiting for the ice cream to be made, it was fun to sample the various types of ice cream sold at the store.

After that, because we were going to participate in the parade of the “Camellia Festival” on the next day, wearing Oshima’s traditional clothes called “Anko,” we did the costume matching with the members of“Izu Oshima Anko Culture and Preservation Society.” They prepared kimonos and belts of various colours and patterns for us, we told them our favorite colours and tried various combinations. Please wait for the report of the parade to find out what colour kimono we chose.

MOTOMACHI HAMANOYU HOTSPRING

After costume matching, before our dinner, in order to relax and recover from a tiring day, we visited the “Motomachi Hamanoyu” hot spring, public outdoor bath while overlooking the sunset.  Oshima offers a number of heart and body warming hot springs, and the most recommended one is “Motomachi Hamanoyu.” This is a unisex hot spring, outdoor bath overlooking the sea, and people have to wear bathing suits. With its amazing views, you can enjoy the sunset while enjoying the bath there. We love hot springs, then after enjoying “Motomachi Hamanoyu,” we also visited another hot spring called “Gojinka hot spring,” which is located just next door. We do love hot springs!

We also visited the “Sea Market” where you can buy island seafood to the restaurant and bring our won Ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster). In terms of food, Oshima’s best and most popular gourmet is seafood. There are so many restaurants serving excellent cuisine, and we recommend the “Sea Market” in particular. You can find authentic seafood ingredients there, including the Sazae (turban shell), Tokobushi (Japanese abalone marine snails), and Ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster).

The BBQ was arranged with many people from the islands, and they served us with a lot of grilled lobster, local specialities, and island-style sushi. All of them were really delicious, conversations with the people of the island were fun, and it was a fun dinner party that I could not think of as a place I was just visiting for the first time. It was fascinating to hear stories directly from locals. Interacting with friendly, nice island people was a valuable experience.

After a good dinner, it was time for a break and sleep time. We stayed in a boutique hotel with a modern design in the centre of Oshima. BookTeaBed IZUOSHIMA (https://book-tea-bed.business.site/) as the name implies, there are many books in the hotel. Popular with those who love reading while enjoying tea, we found it to be a very clean and cozy hotel. The room was clean as if it was built recently, and I really liked it. Breakfast was very simple, but I love hot sandwiches, so it was very delicious.

annual Camellia Festival

On the second day, it was the opening of the annual Camellia Festival. As a special program of our trip, we participated in the parade of the Camellia Festival.

Participants were required to dress in traditional clothes called “Anko,” which are provided by the “Izu Oshima Anko Culture and Preservation Society.” It is paired with a traditional Japanese festival jacket called a Hanten coat, which goes over the top of the kimono after which the front end is tightened. It’s also customary according to local practice that people wear a hand towel as well. The Anko used to be a working dressing style for women in Oshima and has become a special dress for funerals, weddings, and festivals.

Unfortunately, it was raining on the day, but it was a valuable experience to be able to wear a kimono and participate in a cultural event with locals. Oshima’s traditional kimono “Anko” was stunning. We have worn a yukata before, but it was our first time wearing an authentic kimono, and we were very grateful for the experience. At the end of the parade, we took a commemorative photo together.

Since the parade ended early due to rain, we joined the locals in visiting the Izu Oshima Volcano Museum. Having an interest in geology, it was exciting to learn about the eruption of Oshima and the history of Oshima. We thought visitors to Oshima would enjoy visiting this museum.

Since the parade ended early due to rain, we joined the locals in visiting the Izu Oshima Volcano Museum. Having an interest in geology, it was exciting to learn about the eruption of Oshima and the history of Oshima. We thought visitors to Oshima would enjoy visiting this museum.

In the afternoon, after lunch, we took a large cruise ship and headed to Takeshiba Pier in Central Tokyo. The Oshima ferry terminal has recently been renovated and was a very beautiful and large facility. The facility also had an interesting information display about Oshima. On that day, as a part of programs of the Camellia Festival, there were concerts held at the port, and some snacks such as Udon served to visitors free of charge, so the port was very lively before the cruise ship departure.

Before the cruise ship departed, a lot of people came to the port to see us off, take a commemorative photo together, greeted us with kind words, and gave us an extra happy memory to hold onto until the very end. The highlight was that when the ship left, the people on board and the people at the port were holding each end of the paper tapes, there were many paper tape “Bonds” between people leaving and seeing off. It was an impressive scene reminiscent of the old-fashioned voyage “parting.”

This is the first time I would participate in an organized tour, which I don’t usually do because I like to go freely around the places I visit and organize my schedule as I want, but it was truly a very good experience for me.

I really liked discovering new places, people, and products, talking with locals, and participating in cultural events. It was short but intense at the same time, but we did not feel rushed, which was also very nice.

Personally, I like outdoor activities, so next time we travel to Oshima again, I would like to visit a volcano, try outdoor-related activities such as nature walks, experience camellia oil squeezing, and experience the charm of Oshima that we do not know yet.

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