Monday, October 14, 2013

Okinoshima Of Tateyama

"No man is an Island, entire of itself; 
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main"

John Donne, Meditation XVII
English clergyman & poet (1572 - 1631)

The second tour of Chiba Kun Ambassadors took us to the southern tip of Bōsō Peninsular, which is surrounded with beautiful mountains and breathtaking seas. This region is blessed with a long coastline and lots of mountains, making it an excellent place to enjoy nature. The rapeseed flowers and fruit flourish here because of the mild climate, and there are hiking trails and tourist farms to visit.

Out first destination was Okinoshima, which is designated as a quasi-national park of Minamibōsō. The island is connected to the mainland by about a hundred meters of beach. However, it was not like that initially. Okinoshima used to be an island, separated from the mainland for several hundred thousand of years. However, the Genroku Kanto Earthquake of 1703 and the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that hit the area of Tateyama Bay around Okinoshima, caused the ground level to rise, joining the island to the mainland.


  One of our two guides of the day, showing something which is quite rare in Japan - coconut.


Puffer fish or fugu. This species (porcupinefish) is known as harisenbon (literally means thousand of needle) due to the number of sharp spines they have.


As we walked around the island, we were introduced to various kinds of plankton found on the beach.


Some creatures that live on the rocks and shot liquid when they are pressed. I tried pressing them and was later told that those were pees hahaha wtf!


Snorkeling is a popular activity in summer.


Now I know why this place is known for its water quality. Just look at the algae in the water.


How can I resist from having a shot at such a breathtaking place.

During the summer months, this place is popular as a major snorkeling spot because it is shallow enough to enjoy the beautiful sight of the corals. The sea tide is slow and safe, making it a popular destination not only among the locals, but also from people outside the prefecture. According to one survey done on the beaches around the country by a governmental agency, the water quality level here is clean enough to be certified as "AA rank".

In the middle section of the island, there are forest filled with trees of over 300 years-old. There is also a small covered picnic area and restrooms with running water. On the left side of the island, there is a small shrine that has been there in one form or another for about 1,300 years.


  The Chiba Kun Ambassadors continued our tour around the island and next up was looking for seashells.


Some of the seashells found in Okinoshima.


Someone just had his shower it seems.


The earthquake that happen many years ago, had moved the rocks about two meters apart, as seen from the distance between these two persons.


It was not only about beach and blue sea, because they are greens to be enjoyed on this island too.


Chris does not seem to be comfortable with the smell of the leaves lol!


Ugamyojin Shrine (宇賀明神), a shrine which is found in the middle of the island.

We had two guides who explained to us the history and the flora and fauna found on the island. Along the walk around the island, which was about one kilometer, we were shown various kinds of sea creatures. I just could not help but to feel very impressed with his knowledge of seashells, which he claimed to be able to recognise more than a hundred different kinds of seashells.

From one excavation work carried out on the Okinoshima site in 2004, bones apparently belonging to a fully grown dolphin that measured about 2.5 meters in length were found mingled with man-made items in that area. The unearthed bones show that between about 6,500 B.C. and 7,500 B.C., dolphins were being fished off the coast of what now is part of Chiba Prefecture.


We were told that we will be taken to visit a cave here.


The entrance to the cave. There was one time Domo-kun, the mascot from NHK got stuck here because it was too huge to fit the entrance lol!


A little peek at the sea through a small window in the so-called 'cave' lol!


Like they say, there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel cave.


After a long hike (actually it was less than 20 meters lol!) in the cave, we were rewarded with this!


And this!


The rocks that appears to be inclined for almost 45 degree, due to the compression between the plates when the earthquake occurred many years ago.


Another shot of Okinoshima before we return our starting point.


Before that, we were given a piece of magnet and asked to rub it on the sand.


Tada!! Magic show hahaha! This is what we got! Apparently, there is quite an amount of metals mixed in the sand in this section of the island.


Finally, before we leave, we were given a souvenir of keychain made of the seashells found in Okinoshima. How sweet is that.


And one group photo with our wonderful guides at Okinoshima.

As well as indicating that dolphins were being fished for about 1,000 years in the early Jomon period (ca 10,000 B.C.-ca 300 B.C.), when the climate was gradually warming up after the last ice age, objects found at the site gave researchers clues about the natural environment 8,000 years ago. Although the area excavated was only about 20 square meters, a number of artifacts dating from the middle of the early Jomon period were unearthed, including 8,000-year-old earthenware, an obsidian arrowhead and stone implements used for stripping bones and skin. The remains of an early Jomon fire also were uncovered.

Okinoshima is located some distance away from the nearest bus stop. So, visitors who plan to visit this island on public transportation are advised to rent bicycles which is available at Tateyama station. From the station, Okinoshima is only 20 to 30-minute bicycle ride away.

Fujimi, Tateyama-shi, Chiba Prefecture, 294-0034, Japan.

Tateyama Branch of JR East Rental & Lease Co., Ltd.
Operation hours:
08:30 - 18:00 (open 365 days a year)
Rental fee: ¥1,500 per day
Address: Tateyama Branch, JR East Rental & Lease Co., Ltd. 1887 Hojo, Tateyama-shi, Chiba Prefecture (inside JR Tateyama station)
Note: Identification such as a passport must be shown for rental.
Website: (only in Japanese) - Tateyama Rental Cycle System.

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