Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
24 Hours By Boat: Reaching The Ogasawara Islands From Tokyo
Today let's travel 1000 km away from Tokyo to the Ogasawara Archipelago, and its gateway island, Chichijima. To reach this place from Tokyo, you will need to take the Ogasawara-maru, a ferry that takes 24 hours to journey from Tokyo to the islands.
Written by Maki
Did you know there's an island that takes 24 hours to reach even though it’s technically part of Tokyo prefecture? Chichijima Island of Tokyo prefecture’s Ogasawara region is a distant islet 1,000 km away from the center of Tokyo. It was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
In this article, we'll introduce to you the only way to get to Ogasawara's Chichijima Island in one day: the Ogasawara-maru ferry from Takeshiba to Chichijima Island.
Where is Ogasawara?
The Ogasawara Archipelago is a set of around 30 islands floating in the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 km away from the center of Tokyo; surrounded by extremely clear ocean waters, this series of islands is best known for its unique ecosystems and wildlife.
Reserving/Getting on Ogasawara-maru
To visit Ogasawara Archipelago, you must go to the entrance of Ogasawara, which is Chichijima. The large ferry, called Ogasawara-maru, runs from Tokyo/Takeshiba, so that you can arrive at Chichijima.
Reservation in advance is needed to ride on the Ogasawara-maru. The reservation methods are either to make an online reservation with the operators of Ogasawara-maru, at Ogasawara Marine Transportations via their official website, make a reservation by phone or counter, or go through a travel agency.
|Address||Tokyo, Minato ward, Kaigan 1-12-2|
|Business Time||7:00 - 22:00 (The terminal will remain open for ships that arrive or depart later than 22:00) |
*Please be aware that departure times may vary depending on the season.
|Accepted Credit Cards||VISA,MASTER,JCB,American Express,Diners Club,銀聯Card,Other|
|Menu/Pamphlets in Other Languages||English|
|Nearest station||Takeshiba Station (Yurikamome Line), Hamamatsu Station (JR Yamanote Line, Keihin Tohoku Line), Daimon Station (Toei Oedo Line)|
|Access||1-minute walk from Takeshiba Station; 8-minute walk from Hamamatsucho Station (North Exit); 11-minute walk from Daimon Station|
The boarding area of the ferry is a seven minute walk from the JR Yamanote Line’s Hamamatsucho Station, or you can get off at Takeshiba Station on the Yurikamome Line, which is connected to the departure point, Takeshiba pier. The boat leaves at 11:00, but the cut off time of the reception area is 30 minutes beforehand, so make sure to get there with plenty of time.
The Abundant Facilities Within Ogasawara-maru
It's a 24 hour ride on the Ogasawara-maru! There's an abundance of facilities on the boat that you'll be spending an entire day on to make the journey easier on its passengers.
First, there's a boat information center on the 4th floor where they offer you the ferry’s operational information and sightseeing pamphlets about Chichijima and Hahajima Islands.
There are six different types of sleeping rooms offered, ranging from completely private suites, Japanese styled spaces, shared economy spaces, and female only spaces. The basic fare ranges from 23,210 yen - 68,710 yen (*1).
*1: the fare changes monthly due to fluctuations in oil costs.
There is also a lounge with an observation deck where you can see the ocean from the ship; this is also a lovely place to enjoy sunsets and sunrises when the weather is good.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered at the cafeteria. They serve a wide variety of food ranging from common dishes such as curry, ramen, and udon, as well as many of Ogasawara's local foods.
The table and tableware are made from non-slip materials so that you can even enjoy your meal if the boat is rocking.
It goes without saying that there are ample restroom facilities, but there are also bathrooms and shower rooms on the ferry as well. Handrails are located throughout the ship, so that you can move about with relative ease even during stormy sea conditions. Depending on the season, the boat can shake fairly strongly, so for people who get seasick easily, we recommend taking plenty of anti-seasickness medicine along with you.
About the Voyage on Ogasawara-maru
After departing Takeshiba, you'll pass through the coastal area of Tokyo where you can see Tokyo Skytree and Odaiba. After that, you'll see Haneda Airport, Yokohama, and other sights within the coast of Tokyo. After 3 hours, you are no longer near the coast of Tokyo. You'll cross the open seas and continue your voyage onward until you reach Chichijima.
The display boards within the board are all written in Japanese and English. Important announcements within the boat are announced in English as well.
It takes 24 hours to navigate the open waters of the Pacific Ocean’s Izu Archipelago and Ogasawara Archipelago. You can see the northern part of Chichijima from the deck.
What to Do Once You Arrive at Chichijima
The Ogasawara-maru arrives at Futamiko Port in Ogasawara, Chichijima Island at 11 A.M. the next day. A lot of the island people gather at the harbor and the hotel staff and tour guides greet all of the travelers warmly here.
After getting off the ramp and landing on Chichijima Island, you will notice a large entrance mat laid out in front of you.
There are several unique plant and animal species endemic to the islands, which are considered endangered and under attack by invasive species. These mats are laid out so that visitors can wipe their shoes clean of any potential contaminants, such as pollen or seed pods, from plants they may have encountered before boarding the ferry.
A Moving Performance As You Leave the Island!
Ogasawara-maru is part of a 5 night 6 day tour that connects Tokyo/Takeshiba with Chichijima Island. The earliest travelers can leave Chichijima Island is 5 days after their arrival. You’ll be riding on the Ogasawara-maru on the way back too, and you'll be amazed at the heart warming goodbyes of the island people.
The hotel and tour guide staff gather at the harbor and sadly wave their hands goodbye as the guests board the ferry. As you're departing there is even a taiko drum performance called Boninhayashi.
As it becomes departure time and the boat leaves the harbor, many boats will come chase after you. Some of the island people even put on performances such as diving into the waters from the boats. Many visitors are moved to tears by the heartfelt goodbyes of the people on the boat, asking them to come again.
As soon as you can't see Chichijima Island anymore, you will notice that the sun is setting; the journey back to Tokyo/Takeshiba takes place as you stare off at the sunset on the Pacific Ocean.
What did you think of the Ogasawara-maru? It's filled with all sorts of facilities to meet your needs during the long trip on the open seas, which is bound to be a memorable boat trip. Please take the Ogasawara-maru to get to Ogasawara Archipelago if you have the chance.
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