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Aogashima Island : A double volcano with distinctive natural surroundings and geography - Part 1

It is 7 o’clock in the morning in Aogashima, a small island in Southern Japan that lies in the Pacific Ocean. An announcement is made and broadcasted through a speaker to the village as usual, which informs people whether their one-and-only passenger boat is cancelled, or not. What they announced is, “The boat operation is canceled today”, however, nobody gets upset, instead, they calmly say “Not again”. In fact, 40% of the boat service is canceled due to rough ocean waves, and it is common for no boat operation sometimes for over a week. This is what the people of Aogashima face in daily life on the island.

Aogashima 青ヶ島 is the southernmost inhabited island of the Izu Shoto Island Chain, that lies 358km away from Tokyo. Located in the Kuroshio (Japan Current) region of open seas and known for tidal wave generation, the island is barely reachable except by boat. The island really has no harbour to anchor boats due to its distinctive geography; formed by a volcano with surrounding cliffs.

To reach Aogashima Island, there are two options currently; one is to take a passenger boat called “Kanjumaru”, and the other is to take a helicopter provided by Tokyo Island Shuttle Service. Both of them depart from Hachijojima, with the nearest island some 60km away. Before the helicopter service was launched in 1993, transportation of passengers, essential goods and food products used to be made by boat only, where people hardly knew when to expect arrival. The helicopter service brought in much more convenient delivery of goods to people on the island, however, it runs once a day and carries only a maximum of 9 passengers. Many times is it cancelled due to heavy fog, depending on the season. This is why Aogashima is still a rarely-visited island with a small amount of visiting travellers.

Helicopter service departures from Hachijojima Island.

From Hachijojima Island to Aogashima Island most people take a helicopter, as it runs regularly without too much threat of cancellation. Plus, it is much quicker with only a 20-minute flight. The bird's eye view from the helicopter can be considered one of the biggest attractions of travel to Aogashima.

Aogashima is a small, obscure island; about 9 km around, 3.5 km in length and 2.5 km in width. Only a few people know of this island, most are volcanologists. Or, maybe you might already know of this island! Aogashima is not known for its name but for her geography, that has been introduced on some Blogs as a unique landscape.

Aogashima Oyama
The landscape of the island viewed from Oyama Lookout (Oyama Temboudai)

Aogashima is a part of a submarine volcano that has emerged from the sea and is part of a large crater whose outer rim height ranges from 200 m to 420 m in height. The distinctive characteristic of this island is that it has a small crater within the larger crater, formed by an eruption in 1783 to 1785. This small crater is called Maruyama and is still emitting geothermal steam around an area where no plants are evident.

Since the land is layered with lava, ash and scoria, the damage from landslides easily changes the island's shape, little by little. Currently, the cliff near Sambo Port has been under construction.

View from the helicopter

Next Page

Aogashima  - Part 1
Aogashima - Part 2
Aogashima - Part 3