Inspired Travel: Aogashima Volcano

by  Amanda Black | May 9, 2013
Aogashima, Japan
Aogashima, Japan / mikadographics/iStock

I could rattle off a list of impressive and beautiful volcanoes (have you seen this one with three color-changing lakes on it?), but none seem quite as amazing as this isolated mountainous landmass hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Tokyo, Japan. Aogashima is the southernmost island in the Izu archipelago. And, though it might seem improbable, people actually live on the island (and there are things to do there!).

Back in the 1780s, various eruptions occurred causing multiple casualties. The largest in the series happened in 1785; the entire island was forced to evacuate. Many residents didn't return for up to 50 years. Today, consider yourself one of the lucky few if you're able to land on Aogashima.

While there, you should definitely hike Otonbu. It's the peak of the rim of the outer crater on the island (standing at around 1,400 feet above sea level). From there you have an amazing panoramic view of the island and the Pacific Ocean.

You can also visit the public geothermal sauna, Fureai Sauna. It uses natural power and gas to fuel a public bath, hot showers, and a social lounge.

Always in search of a good souvenir? Take some seawater and bring it to one of the many volcanic blowholes on the island (or hingya in the local language). Villagers heat the water over the steam spots and make salt from it.

Getting There: Take a boat or plane from Tokyo to Hachijojima. From there you can either take a helicopter or boat (which often gets cancelled due to rough waters) to the Aogashima.

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