Ogasawara: Rainy Day Activities

Dear prospective Ogasawara visitors,

As you might know, Ogasawara is a subtropical climate, subject to windy typhoons just as often as it is blessed by gorgeous sunny days. This blog post will give you a range of ideas on what to do on a rainy day so you can make the most of your visit to the islands.


 

Yoga

Pelan Village offers yoga classes a few times a week- it is a lovely way to relax and stretch while listening to the gentle pitter-patter of rain coming down outside. Classes on are a donation basis, so you don’t have to stretch your pocketbook by much. If you’d rather, you could always put on a yoga Youtube video and stretch out in your own room.

 

Snorkel

If it happens that the skies decide to rain cats and dogs the day before your boat departs for Tokyo and you are despairing that you haven’t yet snorkeled, never fear. Just remember that you’re going to be dripping wet snorkeling in sun or rain, and put on some flippers and a snorkel! The seas are full of vibrant fish and thriving coral around these parts. If you are lucky, you might even spot a manta ray or some small reef sharks visiting the reefs to nap amongst the corals (never fear, there has never been a shark attack on the island). You can either rent snorkeling gear from Pelan, various dive shops (Surf Shop Rao, for example, although it is on the other side of the island, far fro town)  along the main road in town, or buy your own (it would probably cost you $25 or so to buy a mask- the flippers are far more expensive but not necessary). Do make sure to respect the coral and not to rest your feet or flippers against the coral- a mere finger’s brush could really hurt the ecosystem.

You might want a life jacket but I never use one since I like to dive down for a closer look at giant clams, sea stars, and abandoned shells on the ocean floor. You might see an octopus scuttling along the sand.

Kominato has some nice snorkeling spots off to the right, but my personal favorite is Ogiura beach- walk all the way to the right, set your things inside the fox-hole carved into the cliff (a relic leftover from WWII when the US and Japan were duking it out on the island) and head straight towards the surf- if you veer around the cliff on your rightmost side you can swim to a small beach where there is a little hammock swing.

 

Karaoke

You can sing to your heart’s content at either Hibis or Radford. Getting drunk while singing is a prerequisite (not really) and an A+ way to befriend the locals, provided you’ve invited them along. The draft beer on the island is a little pricey- probably about $9-$10 a pop, but pretty tasty. Oh, and, its really hilarious when the Japanese try to sing American lyrics- they sing in a kind of soft and lispy way and it is bound to make you smile from ear to ear.

 

Restaurant or pub-hop

I highly recommend visiting Green Pepe for a sizzling cast-iron pan full of delectable tidbits. Green Pepe has been around for 30 years and is owned by an incredibly talented artist who studied in Paris (and is a great Bosch replica artist) and his wife. The walls are covered with paintings and knickknacks from all over the world, ranging from prints autographed by John Lennon himself, to Parisian statuettes, to old fashioned telephones and clocks. It is located in town on the road behind the main street facing away from the beach front towards the mountains. There are tables and a long bar so you can either have a dinner party or drink yourself silly (or both?)

 

Rainy-day photography

If you are not adverse to rain, then I highly recommend taking a rainy day hike to the Okamiyama Shrine up on the mountaintop (be careful to note the steep stairs, typical entrances to Japanese shrines- there are hundreds of them and you are likely to quickly run out of breath). There, you can ogle the architecture and pay your respects to the spirits and make a wish. If you’re more inclined to enjoy the rain in a more natural environment, then take a 15 minute bus from town to the mountainside, where you can stop off at Kominato to take a hike to Buta Beach- its about an hour and a half hike and you’ll enjoy an incredible view. If you bring along a magnifying glass or viewfinder, you can really enjoy all the incredible and miniscule plant and animal life- Ogasawara is home to dozens of endemic species of ferns and they range from extremely hairy to baby-butt-smooth. Bring along a digital camera and document your adventure!

 

Visit the aquarium

This is a great thing to do with the kids. There is an aquarium near the Fukushi community center, close to the boat loading dock (a 5 minute walk from town, towards the mountains). There is a fun shallow pond area in front where kids can literally brush fish teeth with long poles (the fish will swim up and expose their bellies for a good tummy rub too) and inside the aquarium, you’ll find a rotating display of tiny fish, a turtle or two, and a couple dozen tanks full of larger fish ranging from parrotfish, angelfish, hairy crabs, etc. There are also a couple display cases full of taxidermied seabirds and crustaceans.

Take a boat to Hahajima

I think the Hahajimamaru boatride costs around $40 and takes 5-7 hours. This tiny island is similar in size to Chichijima but unlike Chichijima (which is home to 2,000 people), only has 400-500 residents. So this is a great place to chill out and really appreciate nature. Although I’ve never been, people say it is even more beautiful that Chichijima. You can read about one foreigner’s experience on Hahajima here.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. nipponaholic says:

    Love this post! Will you still be there in early May? I’ve got the ferry booked and cant wait to go.

    Like

    1. Kaori Freda says:

      I’m excited for you! It seems like we are going to barely miss each other, as I am returning to the US to work for Nike headquarters this spring. Do let me know how your visit goes! The other day, a german guest highly recommended the Pink Dolphin whale watching tour- just in case you are interested, that seems like a great way to get close to the Ogasawara whale population.

      Like

  2. Michael Zwibel says:

    Hi, I’m trying to plan a scuba diving trip to the Osagawara islands. I don’t speak Japanese so I don’t know where to start. Is there any way I can send you some basic questions?

    Thanks!
    Michael Zwibel
    mzwibel@gmail.com

    Like

  3. Michael Zwibel says:

    Hi,
    Can I contact you so I can ask some questions about traveling to the Ogasawara islands. My family and I are planning a trip there and could use so help.

    Like

    1. Kaori Freda says:

      Sure! Ask some questions via this comment thread.

      Like

  4. Kaori Freda says:

    Also, you don’t need to speak Japanese to get by on the island. There is an informational tourist station in town that has brochures and once you arrive, your hotel will be able to answer any questions you may have. I would recommend that you head over to http://ludysbonin.com/ to learn more! Otherwise, ask away!

    Like

    1. Michael Zwibel says:

      Thanks! Do you know any English speaking travel agents who could book hotels and tours including scuba diving?

      Any info on setting up a visit would be much appreciated.

      Like

      1. Kaori Freda says:

        You can easily book a hotel yourself by heading to http://www.ogasawaramura.com/en/stay/ and calling English speaking hotels during their open hours. Once you arrive, your hotel or the tourist information office on the island will help you book scuba diving tours. If you are interested in sea kayaking tours or yoga classes, check out https://ecovillagepelan.wordpress.com/.
        If you call the number at the bottom of the page at https://www.ogasawarakaiun.co.jp/english/service/ you can reserve a roundtrip boat ticket although their English is so-so.

        Like

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