This ferry should have been a pre-requisite for what was to become of my time on Izu Oshima. The food, views and people here are all so colourful.
Many Japanese come here from Tokyo to take a break from the stress of city life. Only 1 hour 45 minutes away via Tokai Kisen’s high speed ferry means it’s great for a short weekend away to enjoy diving, snorkelling, cycling, hiking and surfing.
The main attraction on Izu Oshima is Mt Mihara, known as a “female mountain” (due to it’s weather mood-swings!). After a cloudy first attempt of climbing it and not being able to see anything at all, I’m glad I visited on my second day because the view of the crater and lava trails were stunning.
We took our host’s car to Black Desert, the only one in Japan.
It was a bit of a challenge to get here, and I recommend using a 4WD or taking a shovel and some car mats in case you get stuck… but we survived the sand traps and made it here.
The black sand covering this area of the island was from Mt Mihara’s eruption in 1986. The majority of Motomachi Port was also destroyed by lava flow, which is why most of the buildings look relatively new there.
Travel Tip: Motomachi’s Volcano Museum is an interesting place to learn about the history of Mt Mihara.
However, Habu Port survived the eruption and many of the buildings are in their original condition, over 100 years old. Suguru-San recommended a Taiyaki shop here which is a popular fish-shaped pancake filled with Adzuki Bean jam.
Izu Oshima by far has the most unique food I have eaten in Japan. It still has Ramen and Curry, but these dishes come packed with local vegetables which gives them a fresh new taste. Kimamatei cafe is worth a visit for a nice relaxing lunch with fresh sandwiches, pilaf and spring curry.
The beautiful blue ocean surrounding Izu Oshima’s shores makes the island famous for it’s fish, shell, and salt production. A speciality dish called “Bekko” which is white fish marinated in locally grown chilli pepper and soy giving it a tortoiseshell patina was unbelievably tasty.
It also has a small dairy farm (only 10 cows) on the island which you can buy milk products and various flavours of Ice-cream, including Ashitaba, Camelia flower and salted milk flavour.
All in all, I would say that my short stay on this beautiful local island was one of my best experiences travelling in Japan. Despite the challenges the community here have faced from regular tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions they all remain strong and continue with their peaceful island life.
Tokai Kisen High Speed Ferry from Takeshiba Station in Tokyo. 1 hour 45 mins. Around 7000¥ each way. Allowed one hand luggage sized baggage. Book through Tokyo Islands website for English speakers.
Island Star House. North of the Island 5-10 minutes drive from Okata Port. 7158¥ per night. Guesthouse sleeps 10 people with two rooms. AirBnB booking for Island Star House.