Translated by Andrew J Tinkler
Hahajima Island - Beautiful Places To Stroll Around The Oki Port
Written by Maki
1000 km off the coast of Tokyo lie the islands of Ogasawara, a registered World Heritage Site. Another two hours by ferry is Hahajima, where you can experience pristine beaches, whale-watching and a trail where the scars of the Pacific War can be seen.
The islands of Ogasawara lie approximately 1000 km to the south of Tokyo and can be reached by taking a ferry from the city. Another 50 km south of Chichijima, the entrance to Ogasawara, lies the famous island of Hahajima.
You can use the ferry from Chichijima to Hahajima (the Hahajima Maru) and explore the surrounding areas on foot. A half a day of sightseeing is plenty for you to fully enjoy yourself. This time, we will introduce amazing sightseeing spots you can see on foot around the Port of Oki.
Ocean Gazing Spots from Oki Port
You'll be welcomed by a giant ficus tree when walking to the local community from Oki Port. It serves as a resting place where not only locals but sightseers taking a breather from their travels go to gaze at the ocean.
Right in front of the ficus tree is the beautiful cobalt blue beach Maehama, where not only tourists but local children go to enjoy themselves.
If you go to one of the local fishing harbors, Shizukasawa, you'll find Wakihamanagisa Park. This place is perfect for taking a dip in the shallows of the ocean.
Next to the beach is a fish preserve where green turtles can lay their eggs from spring to summer and it is said you can witness the baby turtles hatching during the summer.
In the park is Samegasaki Observatory where you can look out over all the surrounding uninhabited islands. Whale watching season is from January to April and if you have binoculars, you can observe the whales much more clearly.
A Number of Noteworthy Places
On the summit of the high grounds on the other side of the Oki Port lies Tsukigaoka Shrine. Although it's a small shrine, you'll be able to see flocks of Bonin white-eyes, a bird native to Hahajima Island.
At the bottom of the shrine you'll see a hexagonal chamber and behind it the entrance to the Kiyomigaoka limestone cave. If you would like to explore this cave, you can apply with the Hahajima Tourist Association inside the waiting area on the boat to get a key and helmets.
The walls inside the cave are lined with limestone. Although the size of the cave is rather small, you'll be able to see the roots of the ficus trees dangling overhead which provides for a real cave-exploration experience.
The Ross Memorial Hall, Hahajima's native museum, is free of charge. This building, made from Hahajima's very own Ross stone, was used as a storage house for sugar during the Taisho period.
Inside the hall are displays of goods from whaling vessels from the time Hahajima was used as a base for these ships. Exhibitions for crafting using Tacono Leaf are irregular so if you would like to participate please call the Hahajima Tourist Association (04998-3-2300) to confirm the days/times.
A Promenade with the Scars of the Pacific War
Hahajima was used as a military base during the Pacific War. Because of the deep, inaccessible forest that covers the land, areas throughout the island have been left the way they were during the war.
The Shizukasawa Promenade, which stretches to the west of the Oki Port still has relics from the war, such as a marine facility and guns.
There are also a number of storage houses for medicine left untouched. There is no doubt that you can feel the pain and damage left by the Pacific War when trekking through the promenade.
It is also said that from the promenade's Sunset Point you can see what is called the Green Flash, a momentary green hue that can only be seen right before the sun sets on the horizon. Legend has it that this rare phenomenon will only occur if the sky is perfectly clear, so getting the chance to experience it is considered a very fortunate experience indeed.
In Hahajima and the surrounding sightseeing areas around the Oki Port, you can learn about and experience the incredible, untouched nature of the island and history of the war. Many tourists make a day trip using the ferry that connects Hahajima to Chichijima, the Hahajima Maru. You can stay on the island for about four hours if you arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon. Within that time, you can fully enjoy strolling around all of those wonderful trekking spots we introduced.