Niijima Island: A Perfect Escape From City Life
When I came to Tokyo I was looking for something that was similar to what I had back in my home country of America. After living in New York and Philidelphia I wanted to experience a Japanese city and compare it to the my previous life. After moving to Tokyo and experiencing the hustle and bustle of Akihabara, Shinjuku, and Harajuku I was searching for a place to escape the crowded and fast-paced streets. I wanted to see a different side of Japan. A more quiet and peaceful part of the country. When I asked a Japanese friend, he suggested going to Niijima, a small island off of the coast of Izu.
Traveling to Nijima was surprisingly simple. I thought that it was going to be an arduous task traveling to a smaller island but it was fairly simple. When I traveled to Nijima I took the JR to Hamamatsucho Station and then walked to the Tokyo Takeshiba Terminal. After arriving I bought tickets at the counter 30 minutes before the overnight ferry left. The ferry was really very interesting and was filled with various passengers heading to the shores of Nijima, and other islands for different reasons. It had older people going to experience nature, young people traveling back to their homes from school and it had me; A foreigner searching for a peaceful weekend away from the bustling cityscape. The overnight ferry was equipped with tatami mats so that passengers could sleep while we made it to our destination.
Travellers who travel on weekends are greeted by a quiet and secluded beach. I arrived on a Sunday so the island was empty except for myself. Every beach I went to was completely empty which was just incredible considering the island has world class beaches and surfing. Also for any Japan travellers looking to experience an onsen, Nijima also has this service available and for free. Watching the sunset in a hot spring overlooking the ocean was definitely one of the most somber and calming moments I have ever experienced. Also the free camping was some of the best I’ve ever done. Behind me was a beautiful mountain and lush forest. In front was a fantastic view of the clean white sand of the beach. There was a fully stocked outdoor kitchen and super clean bathrooms all for public use with no charge.
Jeremy Eades on Flickr
Many people come to Japan to experience the gaming culture of Akihabara, to see the creative fashion of Harajuku but so many people miss out on the beautiful nature that Japan has to offer. Before going to Nijima I was one of those people. These more common tourist experiences can be enjoyable but after traveling to the island of Nijima I now understand the value in experiencing something outside of your comfort zone. It was so relaxing to step away from the city and just experience a calm weekend. I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking to have a quiet weekend connecting with nature while living or visiting Japan.