A Trip to the Dreamy Island of Oshima
Oshima is an oval shaped island that was formed when a volcano erupted under water so many centuries ago. Located 120 kilometres from mainland Tokyo, you can get to Oshima through a 1 hour 45 minutes high-speed boat ride or by a 20-minute flight from Chofu airport. It is modest in size with a perimeter of 52 kilometres, a width of approximately 9 km and a length of about 25 km. You can do a full lap around it in one and a half hours via the Oshima circuit road.
7,561 people call Oshima home, going by November 2019 reports, with 2,500 concentrated around Motomachi, which is the largest village on the island. It has everything in terms of amenities, including various learning facilities between high and elementary schools, and is most famous for camellia oil production.
The Kuroshio Current has resulted in a warm climate all year round in Oshima, which has led to the thriving of nature and biodiversity. Its unique landscapes and vegetation saw Oshima recognised as a Japan Geopark on September 14, 2010, making it the pride of a collection of volcanic islands centring Mt Mihara. There many attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Mt. Mihara is held in high regard by the natives who consider it as a fire god. There’s a “black desert” on the east side of the mountain which is famous because it is the only desert in the country, according to the maps of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. The Oshima Island, in general, makes up part of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, alongside the other six members of the Izu chain. The area around the black desert is a protected and car-free zone to ensure the survival of its unique ecosystem.
Driving on the Oshima circuit is scenic and especially memorable for the beautiful strata rocks visible in the southwest. The layers on a huge section of about 630 meters long and 24 meters high called the “Baumkuchen” are especially surprising and amazing, offering incredible patterns of rock formation! You can get your own Baumkuchen snack at one of the local pastry shops who have replicated its shape and stripes.
You can find another wonder of nature in Senzu area to the northeast. 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 surrounding 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.
The “Motomachi Hamanoyu” hot spring is an excellent place to relax and bathe in a unisex, public, outdoor bath overlooking the sea. It feels more like a swimming pool because of its huge size and that many people wear bathing costumes. Watching the sunset over the water is like a storybook, and it’s an excellent way to recover from a tiring day.
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 dishes there, including the Sazae (turban shell), Tokobushi (Japanese abalone marine snails), and Ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster). If you are looking for souvenirs to remember your time in Oshima, how about considering this exceptional seafood?
Recruitment of Oshima Monitor Tour Participants
Oshima; the Island everyone should visit!
Many people love the local cuisine of Oshima, and it is famous for its seasonal ingredients. In this monitor tour, we’ll use food to highlight the charm of the island and also interact with the islanders to get their take on how marvellous Oshima is. Seeing that it is the closest of the Izu islands to Tokyo, we aim to eliminate the travel boundary and encourage people from the city to visit freely and discover the fun of visiting and getting to know the locals and their way of life.
Monitor Tour Schedule
Saturday, January 25th to Sunday, 26th (1 Night, 2 days)
Itinerary of the monitor tour
We’ll depart Tokyo for Oshima early in the morning with a high-speed boat from Takeshiba Pier, and we should arrive shortly before noon. Our first stop will be café “Kobayashi” on the north where we’ll get to harvest the island’s popular winter crops such as daidai (bitter orange) and lemon at an orchard. Afterwards, we’ll use some of the harvest like the Ashitaba (a herb of the parsley family) to prepare local Oshima dishes for lunch. For dessert, you can make your own tasty ice cream from the oranges and lemons collected earlier. That’ll happen at the “Triton” shop under the guidance of the store manager!
When evening sets in, it’s hot spring time! We’ll go to watch the sunset and calm tired muscles from a day of exploring at the outdoor bath of Motomachi Hamanoyu. This experience is unique to Oshima, offering a pleasurable way to get clean and relax over the sights of a warm sun sinking into the blue horizon!
The day ends with a barbeque at your hotel of stay, after a visit to the “Sea Market” to purchase the seafood and ingredients needed for the meal. It is a pleasant experience where you get to share stories and famous seafood like the grilled Ise-ebi, Sazae, and Tokobushi with the friendly locals. There are karaoke performances at the many local island bars, offering a nice way to spend some free time after dinner.
The Book Tea Bed of Izu Oshima
BookTeaBed IZUOSHIMA provides excellent accommodation in a boutique hotel that you’re sure to love. There are books all over the place, and guests can enjoy literature while sipping tea, hence the name of the establishment.
Our second day in Oshima coincides with the opening of the annual Camellia Festival. The Camellia has become the face of Oshima and a symbol of its natural beauty, and every year the people get together to pay homage to the flower. Camellia is at its blooming best between January and March.
This Oshima festival is special because it features a unique kimono dressing style that you can only find here on the island. Participants are 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 Happi 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 became a special dress for funerals, weddings and festivals. You will be all able to put on the Anko costume and all its accessories accordingly and join the rest of the similarly-dressed participants in the parade thanks to assistance from members of the preservation society.
Miss Oshima and Miss Anko will escort the Edo Mikoshi (portable shrine) which leads the parade at the Camellia festival, ending the first day in an exciting and lively manner. For more merry-making, you can dance with the Oshima islanders at the Port Plaza, and learn some of the traditional moves!
After the parade, you’ll get to sit down for some lunch with the locals as you bid goodbye over tasty meals. We’ll return to Tokyo on a large passenger ship in the afternoon that takes six hours to reach the Takeshiba Pier. If the weather is good, there are beautiful views from the huge deck, which provides outstanding scenery.
Recruitment of monitor tour participants and participation conditions
Destination: Oshima, Tokyo, Izu Islands (1 couple or 2 people)
Are you a foreigner living in Tokyo with interest in Japanese culture and history? We’re looking for you! We require two such people, but they have to be female to be eligible to wear the “Anko” costume and take part in the Camellia Festival Parade.
Organiser: Wondertrunk & Co.
Terms of Participation:
- You’ll experience monitor tours that serve up different tourism programs. Like a food taster, you’ll sample each activity and then let us know your thoughts and feelings about the plans.
- It’s also a requirement that monitor tour participants share their experience within their social media circles, e.g., via Instagram or Facebook, during tours. We encourage monitor tour participants to post on their social media channels at least three times each day for the entirety of the journey.
- The applicants should also be open to being recorded and publicised. Such pictures and videos are necessary for marketing purposes and, as such, will be used for promotional purposes, including but not limited to SNS and website information.
- Applicants will be invited to attend Izu Island PR events or a gathering program to share their experience. Dates will be announced shortly after the monitor tour ends. Attendance to a PR event is not a requirement, but we will greatly appreciate it.
The company will foot the bill for accommodation, meals and transport including round-trip ferry tickets, but it will not cover any personal purchases. Fare charges between the applicant’s location and agreed point of the meeting also lie with the participants.