Amami Oshima is an island located on the Satsunan archipelago. Believe it or not, this extensive chain of idyllic islands actually belongs to the Kagoshima Prefecture. They’re located between Kyushu and Okinawa, although most would mistake them for belonging to the latter.
When you think of summer holidays in Japan, the Okinawa islands usually come to mind. However, the lesser known Amami Oshima is just as much of a tropical paradise. Just like Okinawa, there is plenty of sun, sand, and sky to enjoy here. It may even be a better option as there are definitely not as big of crowds.
There are plenty of activities to engage in here. However, one of the best things to do is simply hop from beach to beach!
How to get to Amami Oshima Island
There are several locations that fly to the Amami Oshima airport. They include Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, and Naha (Okinawa).
From Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, you’re looking at flying between 1.5 to 2.5 hours. From Kagoshima and Naha, you’re looking at about an hour’s plane ride.
The former location’s sell tickets from 5,000 for a discount fare, whilst the latter will have sale tickets from around 6,000 yen.
The island is fairly uncrowded and public transport is nowhere near as frequent as you’re used to in Japan. We highly recommend renting a car to get yourself around the island. It’s affordable and convenient. It’s the best way for you to make the most of your time there.
Where to stay in Amami Oshima Island
This quaint guest house is situated right in the middle of the island. Its location means that you can easily access the north and south of the island easily and conveniently. It appears basic from the outside but inside it’s full of amenities and features that make your stay comfortable.
The staff are friendly and will go out of their way to ensure your stay memorable. The rooms, both western and Japanese style, are open and relaxing. The meals here will remind you of a Sunday home-cooked dinner. It truly is a home away from home kind of accommodation.
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As a hidden away island on the map of Japan, one would think the accommodation options are basic at best. This is not true!
The Amami Sunplaza Hotel is located in the chilled out downtown Naze area. It is quite luxurious by the island’s standards. There is free Wi-Fi offered throughout, free luggage storage services, and even laptop rental!
You can choose to relax in the generous-sized onsen bath. There is also a sauna but for males only. The onsite restaurant, Aikana, offers a wonderful spread of Japanese, Western and Chinese dishes.
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The Best Things To Do in Amami Oshima Island
1. Go Beach-Hopping
The absolute number one reason why anyone would go to Amami Oshima is *drumroll* … for the beaches.
Of course, this wonderful tropical island offers so much more, but who can look past the perfect waves? The soft white sand? The endless stretch of the blazing red sky into the horizon during sunset?
Driving from the top to the bottom of the island will only take two hours or so. If you include the many beaches that dot its coastline, you will have the ultimate itinerary for this tropical island.
Each beach will offer its own charm. After sunbaking and splashing in the waves, you should make some time to explore the quaint seaside shops and restaurants before moving onto the next beach!
If you’re after more dynamic water activities, you’re in luck. Many beaches will have activity centres set up where you can book in a water activity based on your preference. There are such things as SUP lessons, snorkelling sessions, kayak hire, and so on.
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To be honest, you don’t really need to list down the beaches you’d like to visit. A simple drive along the coast will ensure you land at far more beaches than you can imagine! However, some of the more popular beaches are listed below:
- Tomori Beach – This popular beach is located just 10-minutes north of the airport. It’s characterised by white sand and calm clear water. It’s pretty much the poster child for Amami Oshima! It’s a great option for sunbaking as well as languid snorkelling. Address: Kasaricho Oaza Ushuku, Amami, Kagoshima 894-0501, Japan
- Kurasaki Beach – Kurasaki Beach is yet another idyllic beach with a wide stretch of white sand and blue waters. It’s got a relatively fairly large car park and will accommodate more cars than most other beaches. The waters are calm and ideal for simply sunbaking and splashing around in the water. Address: Ashitoku, Tatsugo, Oshima District, Kagoshima 894-0412, Japan
2. Visit the Mangrove Forest within the Amami Gunto National Park
A quick google search of Amami Oshima may return pictures of idyllic beaches, but the mangrove forest is the true gem!
The island is actually 95% covered in forest. The virgin mangroves of the Amami Oshima forest are a beautiful sight to behold. The best way to explore these mangroves is through a guided kayak tour.
Most tours will speak freely about the environment of the mangroves as well as the wildlife in the region. During the tour, (if you’re lucky!), you may come across a wonderful mix of the unique wildlife and fauna on the island.
3. Feast on the Local Specialty, Chicken Rice!
As with most regional areas in Japan, Amami Oshima does offer its very own local specialty: keihan rice. This dish is a wonderful amalgamation of sliced chicken, thinly sliced omelette, ginger, green onion, shiitake mushroom and dried seaweed. This is served over plain white rice in the perfect sized portion. An aromatic savoury broth is then poured over the dish to complete it.
This dish is not only a delight to try but also feast for your eyes – it’s very Instagram-able!
You will find that keihan rice is sold at most restaurants and izakayas across the island. If you’re not sure where to go, head to Torishin. This yakitori restaurant is a favourite amongst locals and visitors to the island. It serves a mean keihan rice and also offers an extensive menu to sample the local produce as well.
- Address: 12-6 Amami, Kagoshima 894-0021, Japan
- Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm
4. Ayamaru Misaki Kanko Park
This park could be seen more as an introduction to the Amami Oshima island itself. It’s a great place to grab some brochures from the information desk to find out more about what you might want to do. It’s got a bunch of activities that families in particular will have fun trying together.
These include the golf course built inside the park, the man-made pool that sits right by the ocean, and adventure park specifically for kids. There is also a wonderful observation deck that yields fantastic views of the coast.
5. Try Your Hand at Fabric Dying
A very special export that comes out of Amami Oshima is naturally dyed products. This technique is very specific to the region. It involves creating natural dye which is derived from mud and plants. This carefully produced dye is then used to create beautiful artwork on silks and other pieces of clothing.
There are many workshops which offer the opportunity to hop on board and try your hand at mud-dyeing. One of the most reputable would be Kanai Kougei. Check out where website and maybe give it a go. This would make a great souvenir!
- Address: 2205-1 Toguchi, Tatsugo, Oshima District, Kagoshima 894-0107, Japan
- Hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm
6. Take a Picture at the Heart Rock
The Heart Rock is situated near the top of Amami Oshima on the eastern coast. It’s a stunning piece of nature that comes in the form of a heart-shaped tidal pool.
During low-tide, the beautiful heart outline of the pool will be visible and most people are delighted at how perfect the shape is. The crystal blue water of the island just adds to the beauty of it. This area is generally not busy at all (even by Amami Oshima standards). You can spend some time here simply taking in the sight and breathing in the fresh ocean air.
If it’s safe to do so, some people will even jump in and swim in it! What an experience!
Address: 1346-1 Akaogi, 894-0411, Japan
Amami Oshima is just so much more than meets the eye. It’s also exactly what you would imagine it to be: a slow-paced sub-tropical island with perfect beaches, wonderful food, and relaxed lifestyle. It’s just a tad out of the way of the normal Japan tourist route. If you decide to include this on your itinerary, we recommend that you stay at least 3-4 days to make the most of the travel time. Do all the things you want to do over the first few days, and then simply relax at the beach until it’s time to uproot again!