Known in English as the Izu Seven Islands, the Izu-shotō are peaks of a submerged volcanic chain that starts just east of Izu-hantō and extends some 300km south into the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are easily reached by ferry from Tokyo, they feel worlds away. Five of the seven islands are suitable for tourism, and each has a completely different character – with excellent interisland connections you could spend an enjoyable week island hopping and checking them all out. No matter which island you visit, you’re sure to find yourself thinking: ‘Can I really be only a few hours from downtown Tokyo?’.
Soaking in an onsen while gazing at the Pacific is the classic Izu-shotō activity. There is also excellent hiking up the mostly dormant volcanoes (Mitake-jima is still venting volcanic gases). And, in the summer, the surprisingly good beaches fill up with Tokyoites escaping the city.
The islands can be crowded in the summer high season – it’s often better to visit just outside this season, but keep in mind that typhoons can wreak havoc with your plans from late summer into early fall; just leave time in your schedule for delays.
Unless you’re planning to camp, we recommend getting a Japanese speaker to reserve your accommodations before you arrive. Otherwise, tourist association offices on the islands can help with accommodation.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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