Thinking of visiting Ogasawara or staying at Pelan Village?
You’ve come to the right place.
This photo gallery will give you a photographic glimpse into what life is like on this gorgeous island.
Click each photo to enlarge it and read a description.
The sun sets, setting the sky aflame. The best places to view the sunset are Pelan Village’s terrace and halfway between town and Sakaiura Beach.
On a unseasonably sunny winter day, I went snorkeling at Oguira Beach and caught 8 small fish- too little to eat so I let them all go. Not before snapping this picture though! Poor little dude.
Did you know: Sleeping parrotfish exude a protective transparent bubble that pops when a predator approaches, warning the parrotfish with enough time so that it can escape! This beautiful sea is home to so many beaked parrotfish, those coral-munching sand-makers. Photo by Sanae Koike.
Into the jungle! Photo by Sanae Koike.
Roasting spicy manta ray skin over a fire outside during sake-filled raucous New Years festivities.
Pelan Village’s neighbor, longtime ex-WWOOFer and owner of Aki Sea Kayaking Club, Ichi, gave me a whole cup of these luscious red seeds. I spent an entire afternoon drilling holes into them to make beads for jewelry. I ended up making two necklaces and a silver bracelet, with plenty leftover for future projects.
One of my WWOOFing tasks was to dig a 5 foot hole in the hard red-clay soil. We filled it with roof debris (in preparation for installing solar panels) and later, will build an earth-bag goat shed atop.
One of Pelan Village’s vans in a parking lot near the grocery store. Red chickens roam freely about. Since Ogasawara is a touristic hotspot, signs advertising oceanic recreation activities are prominent on the street.
A good ‘ol Coca Cola bench, painted a vivid red, under some palms.
Episode two, ft. baking bread in a dutch oven over a fire pit.
There are only two grocery stores on the island. This store features more western food, a ton of canned foods, and a little less selection in the fresh produce section. Sanae works here part-time and sometimes when I pop by, I get to see her!
Sanae’s relatives on the mainland send her monthly care packages full of root vegetables and treats. She shared some dried sweet potato with me- roasted, they are aromatic and delicious, although prone to stick to the roof of the mouth and cause irritating flatulence.
Have you ever seen wetsuits flipped inside-out and hung on a laundry line?
The first of what I hope to be a long series of comics about life on the island.
Designed, built, and painted two nest boxes for the 7 chickens who live down the slippery steep slope. The paint job was a rush job.
After a winter typhoon, surfers catch some waves at Kominato beach. Bodyboards rest underneath a beach shelter. My first time body-boarding!!!
Some of the world’s tastiest sea salt is sold in town, for a hefty price.
Everyone wears flip-flops, rain or shine, winter or summer. In fact, councilmen’s formal wear during their conferences are often Hawaiian t-shirts.
Mending kayak gear with an old wetsuit on a rainy day.
Famous Japanese vending machines: sugary drinks and ice cream, most for less than $1.50.
Chopping wood for the wood-fire powered bath and the daily bread baking/rice making.
A toasty loaf of bread baked in Pelan Village’s dutch oven. The live yeast is a descendant of a yeast mother that is more than 15 years old, a product that Chika has proudly cultivated over the years.
Gluing river stones, sea glass, and shells together with epoxy to make lampshades.
A view of the main street in town.
Pelan Village’s logo, designed by Chika Shimizu.
Ryo in his kayak, atop the world. Dolphins frolic around a gleeful swimmer.
One of Ryo’s European kit houses for Pelan Village guests.
A cat named White, in front of one of the island’s bars. The bar is called Yankee Town and in the past, a WWOOFer who stayed for a year worked there part-time. The owner seems kind but gruff.
Another sunset. They come in all varieties here.
Chika leads her triweekly yoga class, encouraging us to open our hearts to the sky and to each other. Check out her blog at http://blog.goo.ne.jp/pelanchika
. She is a Renaissance woman, strong mother of two, and glows with warmth and wisdom. You’ll not regret visiting her yoga studio on the island.
Ahhh, the sea soothes the soul.
These pictures mostly sum up all the perks of visiting or living at Pelan Village in Ogasawara. Broadly, the cons include: periodic loneliness, unreasonable grumpiness, certain homesickness, lack of eligible bachelors/bachelorettes, overcoming communication barriers, terrible summertime sunburns, mosquitos feastin’ on your flesh, and roasting 7 rats over an open fire with which to feed the dogs (just kidding, I enjoyed that bit).
You might be wondering: Where exactly IS Ogasawara? It is located 1000km from Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, level with Okinawa. Ogasawara is home to many endemic species and boasts a sleepy little town and laid-back island culture.