When you want to get off the mainland of Japan and do something interesting that isn’t going to financially cripple you, there are plenty of islands with fascinating things to see and do. Here are just 3 of the top islands we recommend visiting if you want to do something out of the normal on your trip to Japan.
Hashima/Gunkanjima (Battleship Island)
Gunkanjima is about 20 kilometres from the port of Nagasaki, and until 1974 was a coal mine. There were over 5000 people living there at the time, which made for a dense population due to the island’s size. As accomodations were made to suit the large amount of people, Hashima began to look like a battleship, which is how it earned the name Gunkanjima.
After the mine closed in 1974, the island was abandoned, but left with all the buildings still standing. Weather has caused the buildings to deteriorate, and is what gives Gunkanjima its creepy atmosphere.
You can take sightseeing tours by boat, and visit three observation decks while being led by a guide. The island is incredibly eerie, and is a must for those who like visiting haunting places.
Okunoshima (Rabbit Island)
Despite the awful history of this island (it was the site of a poison gas factory in the 20s, secret tests with chemical warfare in WWII), it’s a much more pleasant place to visit nowadays, because of the rabbits that call it home!
There are absolutely hundreds of bunnies here, who have flourished thanks to the lack of predators. They’re not scared of people; in fact, if you buy a bag of rabbit food from the ferry station, you’ll be swamped by rabbits! Being covered in bunnies makes for a photo you’ll treasure the rest of your life.
Keep in mind that the rabbits do have bad eyes, so be careful when feeding them so you don’t accidentally get bitten.
Naoshima is an art-lover’s dream! There’s incredible sculptures and architecture, as well as modern art museums.
It’s got lovely weather and beaches and an almost Mediterranean feel; the island is very laid back and is a nice escape from the busy areas like Osaka and Kyoto.
Naoshima is also the Setouchi Triennale art festival’s main venue, and with good reason! The many sculptures and wonderful architecture make for fantastic photos.
There are so many more islands to explore, each with their own unique qualities and environments, but these 3 are our picks for islands with something special to offer!