10 Best Islands in Japan to visit

sado island niigata Places to visit in Japan
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Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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Japan is indeed an island nation, as its main areas span across 4 large islands. But, did you know that there are actually more than 14,000 islands in all? 430 of which are inhabited and filled with beautiful natural and historical charm. Each of these islands showcases its own unique culture and scenery, giving visitors a taste of Japan’s diverse attractions. From its interesting history to its crystal clear waters to its delicious food culture, each island is worth a visit. We invite you to explore these islands and experience the unique charm of Japan. In this article, we will introduce 10 recommended Japanese islands worth visiting.

1. Kozushima


Located 180 km south of Tokyo in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Kozushima’s 22-km circumference and 18.58-square-km area are filled with natural attractions. The island is accessible via Tokyo Takeshiba Pier, a shipping route from Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture, or by air from Chofu Airfield. Despite being a small island, one of its attractions is its beautiful sea, which is the clearest in Japan. you can even jump into it from a moderate height from the famous promenade! The colorful fish and coral reefs spreading out in the clear sea will fascinate visitors.

Official Website: Kozushima

2. Amami Oshima

Amami Oshima Kagoshima

Amami Oshima Island is located between the Kagoshima mainland and the main island of Okinawa. The island is a world-class natural treasure trove, with unique ecosystems such as Japan’s second largest mangrove forest and the endangered Amami rabbit. Amami Ohama Seaside Park is one of the most beautiful beaches, a great representation of the beauty of the island. The emerald blue sea and the pure white sandy beach create a stunning contrast that captivates the hearts of all who see it. Amami Oshima Island offers a paradise for nature lovers and a wide range of attractive spots for travelers who love history. The harmony of nature and history on this island will create unforgettable travel memories.

Official Website: Amami Oshima

3. Miyajima

deer island Miyajima

Miyajima is a small island, only 30 km in circumference, located at the westernmost tip of Hiroshima Bay, and is one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan. It is particularly famous for the red torii, the symbol of Itsukushima Shrine, which floats on the sea and is a reminder of the culture of the Heian period. The current Otorii, which was rebuilt in 1875, adorns the island as one of Miyajima’s most famous architectural landmarks. The area surrounding Itsukushima Shrine is dotted with gourmet spots where visitors can enjoy the gastronomic delights of Miyajima. Visitors can enjoy local delicacies such as Hiroshima’s famous grilled oysters and momiji manju buns. Miyajima’s harmony of beautiful scenery and delicious cuisine is a memorable Japanese tradition.

Official Website: Miyajima

4. Enoshima

Enoshima view

Enoshima, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, is an island connected to the mainland by a sandbar making it a great day trip from central Tokyo. The island has many attractions, such as the Enoshima Aquarium and a street lined with souvenir stores, which can be enjoyed throughout the day. Visitors can enjoy interacting with sea creatures at the Enoshima Aquarium and shopping for souvenirs along the island’s many streets. The gourmet food on Enoshima is also not to be missed. There are many places to enjoy the island’s unique flavors and scenery, such as famous restaurants serving shirasu (baby sardines) and cafes where you can enjoy the sea breeze and a panoramic view of the ocean. Enoshima’s blend of nature, activities, and delicious food makes it the perfect place for a one-day adventure.

Official Website: Enoshima

5. Kerama Islands

The Kerama Islands of Okinawa are a true gem for travelers seeking beautiful waters. Although accessible from the main island of Okinawa in only an hour or so, the beauty of the islands is overwhelming and draws many visitors. The beautiful emerald green coastline stretches out before your eyes. The clarity and hue of the water are truly exquisite, and you can enjoy the beauty of the sea to your heart’s content. The Kerama Islands are home to whales and sea turtles, which are especially attractive to adventurers who enjoy diving. On a lucky day, you may even get to see these creatures in the beautiful ocean.

Official Website: Kerama Islands (Only in Japanese) 

6. Sado Island

sado island niigata

Sado Island is located at a minimum distance of 30 km from the mainland and is the largest island spread out on the Sea of Japan side. The island covers an area of approximately 855 square kilometers, which is 1.5 times the size of Tokyo’s 23 wards. Shukunegi is a classic tourist attraction on Sado Island, a historic port town dating back to the Middle Ages, which prospered from gold mining in the 17th century, and its historical footprints can still be felt today. The streets of Shukunegi, with their rows of board-walled houses stretching out toward a small cove, seem as if time has stood still. Some of the houses are open to the public for a fee, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere up close. Sado Island is a fascinating place where history and elegance are woven together, and can be called the unexplored region of the Sea of Japan.

Official Website: Sado Island

7. Yakushima

Yakushima, Ghibli location

Yakushima Island, off the south-southwest coast of Kagoshima, is an island of outstanding natural beauty. Registered as a World Natural Heritage site, the 10,747-hectare expanse is known for its astonishing natural treasures, such as the Jomon Cedars and Shiratani Unsui Gorge. From the 7,200 year-old Jomon Cedars to the deep green moss forests and the clear waters of Shiratani-unsui Gorge, Yakushima is truly a paradise of natural wonders. The beauty of the island captivates visitors and is well worth a visit. Why not visit Yakushima and experience the natural wonders of the world?

Official Website: Yakushima

8. Naoshima

Yellow pumpkin Yayaoi Kusama Naoshima

Naoshima Island, which stretches only one hour by ferry or 30 minutes by high-speed boat from Takamatsu Port in Kagawa Prefecture, is known as the “Island of Art”. As this implies, works by famous artists are exhibited throughout the island. Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dot artwork is particularly famous and attracts many art enthusiasts and other visitors. Naoshima is truly an art paradise, and is gaining popularity as a beautiful place where art and nature are in harmony. Why not take a short trip from Kagawa and experience the magic of art?

Official Website: Naoshima

9. Ishigaki Island

Photo privated by Viator

Ishigaki Island represents the remote islands of Okinawa and is conveniently accessible from the island’s airport. Kabira Bay, the most scenic spot on the island, attracts many visitors with its white sand beach and beautiful blue ocean color. Ishigaki Island limestone cave is an impressive display of nature that contrasts beautifully with the tropical setting. The illumination within the cave creates a fantastic atmosphere and attracts a variety of visitors. Ishigaki Island represents the paradise of Okinawa with its beautiful nature and tourist attractions.

10. Aoshima

Aoshima Island, spread out in Miyazaki Prefecture, is a small island with a circumference of only 1.5 km, and the entire islet emanates a powerful aura. Aoshima Shrine, which stands at the center of the island, is a symbol of marriage and power and is known as a place where visitors can make their wishes come true. The sunset and sunrise from Aoshima are breathtakingly beautiful. The gradation created by the sun setting on the ocean horizon is like a beautiful painting. Although Aoshima Island is a small island, its scenery and sacred atmosphere attract many people.

This article featured some of Japan’s most iconic islands that you should visit, so did you see any islands you’d want to visit in the future? These beautiful islands are a place filled with the variety and charm that only Japan can offer. We hope you will find new adventures and excitement as you explore these islands, where history and nature are in harmony. May the islands of Japan be a special memory for you and a wonderful inspiration for your future travels. 

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