Aogashima Island – Living inside a Volcano

Can you imagine yourself living in a giant volcanic crater? Well, for starters, you can forget about Starbucks. But it sure would be the ultimate destination to get away from it all. It’s not all that surprising then, that about 200 people actually inhabit the Japanese volcanic island of Aogashima, with only one school and a single post office.

Aogashima, a part of the Izu Archipelago, lies two hundred miles south of Tokyo, in the Philippine Sea. The island and its 205 inhabitants (as of 2009), are a part of Japan and governed by Tokyo. When I first saw pictures of this breathtaking location, it sort of reminded me of an inverted pudding on a plate. Or an oddly shaped donut. But Aogashima is really a volcano within a volcano. The island is quite well known for having a volcanic caldera within a larger caldera. So what you have is one big, giant crater, which is the island itself, inside which is nestled a much smaller version of itself. This gives the whole island a rather mysterious appeal, almost like something out of a fantasy movie. It’s hard to believe there are such places still left in the world, untouched by noisy human activity.

The entire population of Aogashima lives on a small part of the island. This is where most of the amenities are located, such as a general store and a helipad. While it’s unrealistic to expect a great night life or gourmet food options in a place as remote as this, Aogashima isn’t totally devoid of activities to pursue. For starters, it is a great place to relax and unwind, basking in all the serenity. Scuba diving is a popular activity in the intensely blue waters. You could also consider hiking and camping by the volcano, or visiting the volcanic hot springs. In the very center of the island is a geothermal sauna. The main volcano has scalding hot steam vents around one side, which are used to power the public sauna – a perfect way to relax after a long day of hiking. You can even cook food at the steam vents, in the pots available outside the sauna to steam your goodies. Accessibility options to and from the island aren’t too great:, as it can only be reached by ferry and by helicopter. Once you’re on the island, you have access to a 24/7 live feed of the harbor, so that you can keep an eye on the weather before venturing out.

If you are planning on visiting Aogashima , you might want to know that it is actually an active volcano. The last massive eruption was over 200 years ago, in 1785. 140 people are said to have died back then, and since it has been a while, the volcano might be in store for another eruption sometime soon. If you’re not the kind to take risks, you might as well sit back and enjoy breathtaking pictures of this amazing beauty of an island. I’ll leave you to it.



Photos via: Volcanoes of the World, Future-Giraffes