How to make the most of your weekend in Oshima, Japan

Jun 19, 2017

Oshima may be officially part of Tokyo and only two hours away by boat, but it offers an experience that is worlds apart, with its unsullied old-world charm and unhurried pace of life. The island is quite the haven for nature buffs, with as much as 97 per cent of its area preserved as part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park that includes the famous Mount Fuji.

For those looking to spend a weekend in Oshima, here’s how you can make the most of a short adventure.

SATURDAY

1. Hike up an active volcano

A post shared by AriizumiT (@ar1zm) on

Start your weekend with a hike up Mount Mihara, a 758m-tall active volcano that is spewing smoke to this day. Its last major eruption in 1986, dubbed Gods’ Fire, sent a river of lava through the island before coming to a stop near the main hub of Motomachi. About 13,000 residents and tourists had to flee.

The hike can easily be completed within 45 minutes and once you reach the top of Mount Mihara, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of other islands around Oshima. The desolate terrain of charcoal-covered rocks and hardened lava sediment, juxtaposed against the pristine blue waters in the distance, is an unforgettable view.

The hike up the volcano also offers the chance to experience some pop culture moments.

The volcano was where Godzilla was entombed in the cult Japanese classic, The Return Of Godzilla (1984), before the monster was subsequently revived in a later movie. As a result, Godzilla features in buttermilk cookies that are sold in souvenir shops on the island.

For a closer look at the reddish-brown deposits in the caldera – a crater formed in a volcanic eruption – follow the rocky summit trail at the peak that encircles the crater which is about 300m in diameter.

2. Black sand desert

Think of a desert and you are likely to picture an arid landscape of golden sand dunes. But Japan’s one and only desert – the Inner Desert or Ura-Sabaku – is nothing like that. Its vast plains of soft black sand are out of this world and some liken it to being on the moon.

3. Enjoy marinated sushi

oshima-sushi

Fresh sushi is pretty much a guarantee on Oshima, where fresh catch is sold daily at a seafood market. But a must-have is its local speciality dish, Bekkou sushi (above). Made using seasonal local fish, each piece of sushi is marinated in a piquant mixture of soya sauce and island-grown green chilli peppers.

While the dish is easily found at sushi joints on the island, we chose to dine at Sushikou as it was recommended by a kindly obasan (auntie). A set of 10 pieces of Bekkou sushi costs 1,850 yen (S$23).

Sushikou, 1-4-8 Motomachi, Tel:+81-4992-2-0888, Open from 11am to 3pm (lunch), 5pm to 10pm (dinner), closed on Wednesdays