Discover Hachijo-jima Island

Hachijō-jima Island or Hachijo Island is a picturesque subtropical volcanic island only 55 minutes from Haneda Airport. The island is also accessible by ferry from Tokyo. The island’s only municipality is Hachijo, and as of March 2018, there were over 7,000 people living on the island. It’s a great place to go hiking and enjoy nature at its fullest.

Hachijō-jima island has been inhabited since Japan’s Jōmon period (dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE).

Hachijō-jima island, Japan. | Nesnad

Archaeologists have unearthed magatama (beads or”jewels” that were made of primitive stone and earthen materials in the early period of Japan), as well as other remains. During the early Nara period (710 to 794 CE), the island was part of Suruga Province, then later on transferred to Izu Province when Izu separated from Suruga in 680. Hachijō-jima island is also famous in Japan’s history as it was a place where Minamoto no Tametomo, the legendary samurai who was a powerful archer. It is  said that he sunk an entire Taira ship with a single arrow by puncturing its hull below the waterline. Minamoto was banished to the island after a failed rebellion.

The tranquil volcanic island was a place of exile for many political figures.  In 1704, when the criteria for banishment was changed to cover a wider range such as arson, murder, brawling, gambling and even membership in an outlawed religious group, more criminals were shipped off to the island.

Tamaishigaki walls built by exiles on Hachijo-jima in Japan. | Geomr~commonswiki 

They were never told exactly how long they would be in Hachijō-jima. During the Edo period, Hachijō-jima island became known as a place where convicts were banished. One such prominent figure was the defeated daimyo Ukita Hideie, during the Battle of Sekigahara.

Under the new government during the Meiji restoration in 1868, saw the end of Hachijō-jima island being a prison island and many residents chose to return to the mainland. Former U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant visited the Hachijō-jima and was ceremonially adopted by the village chief, being given the name Yūtarotaishō; meaning “courageous general” in the local dialect.

Hachijō-jima island today is a great hiking spot. The once luxurious French baroque-style luxury hotel from the tourism boom of the 1960’s, the Hachijo Royal Resort, now lies abandoned.

Shimazushi, specialty of Hachijō-jima island, Japan. | Kentagon

The now dilapidated building showing remnants of its glory days. The Hachijō-jima History and Folk Museum is a great place to see the island’s past and the Hachijō Botanical Park , a botanical and animal park is also a great place to visit.The island is also famous for its fresh sushi locals call shimazushi and its dried fermented version, hamatobiuo. Hachijō-jima island is just one of the many place to see and visit when in Japan!