World Natural Heritage in Japan


Ogasawara Islands

The Bonin blue paradise for endemic species

The Ogasawara Islands are a subtropical chain of islands located about 1,000 kilometers to the south of the Japanese mainland. On these oceanic islands that have never been connected to any continent, plants and animals transported by the waves, birds, and wind have evolved in unique ways. Endemic fauna such as Japanese wood pigeons and Bonin flying fox are rare species requiring protection. Meanwhile, the stunning underwater scenery of humpback whales, dolphins, green sea turtles, and coral reefs is another great charm of these islands. The Ogasawara Islands are also home to many plants with diverse origins including Schima mertensiana from the subtropics, Stachyurus macrocarpus from the Japanese mainland, and Pacific beauty palms from Oceania. Flora and fauna that survived and thrived by adapting to the unique environment of the islands now live together in harmony.

Through a Day

The Ogasawara Islands offer spectacular scenery, including sunrises, the sparkling ocean in a shade of blue so perfect that it has its own name, "Bonin Blue," and starry skies unobstructed by any lights or buildings. The islands' oceans and jungles teem with endemic flora and fauna that evolved in distinctive ways here, just waiting for you to discover them.


Nagasaki Observatory (Chichijima Island)

Head to the northeast of Chichijima Island and wait for the sunrise at Nagasaki Observatory right next to the road. These quiet moments spent watching the depth of night gradually lift and a reddish tinge appear on the horizon are truly precious, naturally making you feel appreciation for the miracle of a new day.


Minamijima Island

Here is one place you definitely don't want to miss if you come to the Ogasawara Islands. The island's most iconic scenery is its fan-shaped beach with turquoise waters passing through a tunnel in a cliff worn away by waves. The submerged limestone karst topography will remind you of the power of the Earth.


Jinny Beach (Chichijima Island)

Located at the southwestern tip of Chichijima Island, Jinny Beach is known as the most beautiful beach on the island for its white sand formed from crushed coral and its clear waters in the perfect shade of "Bonin Blue." Since it is only accessible via boat or kayak from Minamijima Island or Kopepe Beach, it feels like a private beach. The sight of the ocean sparkling in the sunlight is almost otherworldly.


Mt. Shokensakiyama (Hahajima Island)

Passing through tunnels of jungle-like large banyan trees and climbing steep cliffs using chains, you'll enjoy a sense of adventure on this roughly 15-minute hike as well as a sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit of the low mountain. Feel a refreshing breeze as you take in panoramic views of settlements on Hahajima Island and Mt. Chibusayama.


Ogamiyama Park (Chichijima Island)

Search for Japanese wood pigeons at Ogamiyama Park. The area known as "Himetsubaki Valley" is a place where you can spot many of the rare and endemic species of Chichijima Island, including Japanese wood pigeons. Look carefully as you walk, and you might get lucky! There's nothing like the thrill of catching a glimpse of a bird that's found nowhere else on Earth.


Mt. Chuozan (Chichijima Island)

This easy hiking course reaches the mountaintop observation platform in about 10-15 minutes from along Yoake-doro Road. The mountain is covered with endemic flora like Cyathea ogurae and Bonin fountain palms, making the hike feel like a walk through a botanical garden. Another endemic species, Hedyotis leptopetala, may also greet hikers with lovely white and pink buds and blossoms.


Mt. Chibusayama (Hahajima Island)

The Bonin white-eye is a bird only found on the Hahajima Islands, and more specifically on the islands of Hahajima, Mukojima, and Imotojima. It does not travel between islands and is known as one of the wonders of the Ogasawara Islands. Mt. Chibusayama, the highest peak on Hahajima Island, is a paradise for native plants, so hiking the mountain is an opportunity to observe flora as well. Bonin white-eyes, a Special Natural Monument of Japan, are small, charming birds with yellow and green plumage, distinguished by the black triangular patches around their eyes. Seeing them hop around freely is a heartwarming sight.


Sunset from the Weather Station Observatory (Chichijima Island)

The Weather Station Observatory on the western side of Chichijima Island is the best spot to watch the sun set beyond the horizon. On clear days, it becomes packed with people. During the whale-watching season, you may also be able to enjoy unforgettable glimpses of humpback whales jumping and spouting.


Night Tour (Chichijima Island , Hahajima Island)

Some of the flora and fauna of the Ogasawara Islands can only be seen at night, such as glow-in-the-dark Mycena chlorophos mushrooms (known here as "Green Pepe") and the Ogasawara giant bat, the only species of mammal endemic to the islands. If you join a night tour, a guide can show you where you are most likely to encounter them on that particular day. The bioluminescent mushrooms glowing mysteriously amid the darkness make a bewitching sight.


Observing the Stars from the Former Heliport (Hahajima Island)

This 30-meter helicopter landing pad was in use until 2003. Clear in all directions and with almost no artificial light, it is the optimal spot to observe the stars. If you lie on your back and look up, you can feel like your whole body is bathed in starlight.

Photo = Yusuke Abe, Masuo Tomita (Minamijima Island, Ginny beach)

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