Ticked off another destination on my bucketlist – the Bonin Islands, otherwise known as Ogasawara Islands – truly paradise.
It’s about 1000km away from Japan yet is still part of Tokyo. It is Japan’s southermost spot.
The Bonin Islands mean “uninhabited islands” and are an archipelago. Two of the islands however are habited – Chichijima (father islands) and Hahajima (mother island).
They were designated as World Natural Heritage sites a couple of years ago.
The ONLY access to the islands are by a 25-hour boat ride from Tokyo. There is no airport on the island. Boats only depart once a week so the basic itinerary is 5 nights. 2 of which are spent on the boat and 3 nights on the island. If you miss the boat or want to stay longer, you have to wait for the next week’s boat departure. Life on the island, as I discovered, revolved around the boat’s island arrival and departure.
I was lucky to go there during August – summer holiday and the end of Obon. Managed to get a spot on the boat, but even harder was finding accommodation. Given that accommodation is limited and it was peak season, a lot of places were filled up. And I had left it last minute. I only decided to this trip 1-2 weeks prior. I did end up finding a small minshuku to stay at.
The only departure to Ogawasara Islands is on a Saturday so I left on Saturday morning and would not arrive on Chichijima until Sunday lunchtime.
Tickets are not cheap. About 30,000yen one way and that was for the cheapest class which was basically a mat in an open-floor room. If you want beds in upper classes except to pay a lot more. And even more for the suites. I ended up getting a spot in the Ladies-only room which suited me fine. The general sleeping floor area fit about 100 plus people in the lower decks. They had a couple of ladies-only room which were smaller closed rooms that fit about 30 ladies. Considering I was traveling on my room, the ladies room was a better option. Got to avoid sleeping next time to snoring men and loud groups of people.
The boat was more like a cruise ship – restaurant/cafeteria, shower facilities etc. I normally quite like boat rides, but there wasn’t a lot of space on this boat – not a lot of free seating area. A bit tight in rooms filled with lots of people and not a lot of personal space.
I was looking forward to the 25-hour boat ride. Plenty of time to chill out and catch up on some reading. But I ended up getting seasick and threw up 3 times within in the first 5 hours. Napped a bit and ate some cup ramen on the deck. Ended up just sleeping through the majority of the trip to ward off vomiting. I got through one movie on my laptop and was in bed by about 7:30pm. Lights were turned off at 10pm.
A pretty long and uneventful boat trip. No wifi or phone reception on the boat either. Was ready for land.
Got some fresh air on the decks, enjoyed the views until arrive on Chichijima.
The Ogasawara Islands were amazing. Well worth the 25-boat ride.
A ticket to Ogasawara:
If you’re in second class, your beds are allocated as you bed. I got number 24.
My sleeping mat and pillow:
Out to sea:
The next day:
Approaching the islands:
Everyone from Ogawasawara village on Chichijima comes to greet the boat on its arrival and all the accommodation owners come to pick up their guests.
Look for your accommodation sign:
Welcome to Ogasawara:
Checked in my tiny room at the minshuku:
Ate lunch at a local cafe:
Chichijima – a small beautiful remote island located in the Philippine Sea, 1000km from Tokyo, and World Natural Heritage Site:
Next up is some dolphin spotting!