Miyakejima is an island in Tokyo prefecture, about 180 km south of Tokyo city. As with the other islands in the Izu Island group, Miyake-jima forms part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
The island is a stratovolcano with a granitic composite cone, dating from the late Pleistocene period, between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago. The island has a roughly circular coastline, 38.3 km in length, with an average diameter of 8 km. The highest elevation Mount Oyama (雄山, Oyama-san) is an active volcano with a height of 775.1 m. The mountain has been recorded to have erupted numerous times throughout history, and is mentioned as far back as Nara period written records. Over the past 500 years, it has erupted 13 times, including five times since the start of the Meiji period. A lava flow in 1940 killed 11 people, and other eruptions occurred in 1962 and 1983.
Tourists were allowed to visit Miyakejima in 2005 for the first time after the evacuation of its entire population following the eruption in 2000. Today many tourists visit the island for fishing, diving and bird watching.
In 2019, it had 2,460 residents.
Miyake-jima is home to the rare endemic Izu thrush (akakokko). The island is home to an unusually rich flora and fauna with several rare species of birds and animals, although its natural habitats are constantly under threat from human and volcanic activity. Underwater, the island is valued by divers for its coral reefs and marine fauna (including the dolphin population outside nearby Mikura-jima).
Miyake-jima has a humid subtropical climate with very warm summers and mild winters. Precipitation is abundant throughout the year, but is somewhat lower in winter.
Tokaikisen operates a daily overnight ferry, called the Tachibana Maru (橘丸), from Tokyo's Takeshiba pier, near the Daimon metro station. Leaving Tokyo at 22:20, and arriving 05:00 - prices vary seasonally but expect to pay around ¥6500 for a reclining seat. Depending on the wind and weather conditions, the Tachibana Maru will dock at one of three ports; Miike Port Pier (三池港桟橋), Igaya Port (伊ヶ谷港), or Sabigahama Port (錆ヶ浜港). The port where the boat will dock is not predictable and changes on a daily basis. A second large passenger ship named Sarubia Maru (さるびあ丸) was scheduled to begin sailing to Miyake-jima on June 25, 2020.
There are flights connecting Miyakejima Airport and Haneda Airport with an approximate flying time of 50 minutes. Flights are also operated from Chofu Airport. The area is prone to high volume of sulfuric gas and flights were suspended for almost eight years after the 2000 volcano eruption.
There is a helicopter that arrives via Izu Ōshima. There are also two helicopter flights operated by Tokyo Island Shuttle which originate in Aogashima and Izu Ōshima and fly to Toshima, Miyake-jima, Mikura-jima, Hachijō-jima and Aogashima.
There are two bus routes on the island. Both bus routes service the same stops, but one route goes clockwise and the other route goes counter-clockwise. The time between each bus stop arrival can vary greatly from a few minutes to up to 3 hours.
- Mt. Hyotan (Kamitsuki Area): Mt. Hyotan was created in 1940 when the northeast hillside of Mt. Oyama erupted, emitting lava, volcanic bombs, scoria, and volcanic ash for about 22 hours. The lava buried Akabakkyo Bay and flowed out to sea.
- Tairo-ike and Akakokko Station (Tsubota Area): Tairo-ike is a lake in the crater of a volcano created more than 2,500 years ago. The lake is 30 m deep (98 feet) and 2 km (1.24 miles) in circumference. It is the largest freshwater lake on the Izu Islands. Akakokko Station (Akakokko-kan) nature center has a bird-watching center. “Akakokko” is the Japanese name of the Izu island thrush, an endemic species that has been designated as a Japanese national treasure.
Toga Beach Park and Toga Beach (Ako Areain the southwestern part of Miyakejima Island) offers 360° panoramic views, including the view of Sanbondake (the Three Shore Rocks), and trees whitened by volcanic gas. Toga Beach is popular for diving, and bird watching. Toga Shrine, where the Grand Guardian Gods of the Izu Islands are enshrined, is also in the Ako area.
- Shichishima (Seven Islands) Observation Deck (Ako Area), halfway up Mt. Oyama, also provides 360-° panoramic views. On a sunny and clear day, you can see the full scale of the Izu Islands, from Oshima Island in the north to Hachijojima Island in the south.
- Volcanic Experience Trail (Ako Area): walk this trail to understand the threat of a volcanic eruption, and to see how the land has regenerated since the 1983 eruption.
- Swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing: enjoy the stunning undersea volcanic terrain, with columnar joints and underwater arches, and abundant fish. Sea life includes coral primroses, large migratory amberjack, great amberjack, and brightly colored tropical fish.
- Bird-watching: sea birds, and the Izu island thrush.
- Trekking, cycling, and bouldering are very popular. You can try bouldering at the Miyakejima Recreation Center, which has seven bouldering walls and six walls for lead climbing, which involves using a rope harness for safety. There are about 270 routes of all difficulty levels. This is the largest climbing facility in Japan.
- Funaiwai is a festival held each January 2 to pray to Funadama, the guardian deity of boats, for bountiful catches and the safety of the boats in the year to come. It is held simultaneously in all five villages and five ports in Miyakejima Island. Ship owners and captains drink sacred sake on a fishing boat and throw mandarin oranges and wrapped offerings of money from the boat to the people gathered at the port. Miso soup containing Japanese rock lobster is provided.
- Gozu Tenno Festival is held on the third Sunday in July to pray for a bountiful grain harvest, big catches for fishermen, safety of the family, and a state of perfect health. This festival is held at the Oshaku Shrine in the Kamitsuki area. People chant kiyari (a workmen's chant for pulling a heavy load) while carrying mikoshi (portable shrines), drums, and branches of the sasaki tree in a parade through the Kamitsuki area.
- Toga Shrine Festival is held by all of Miyakejima Island in alternating years in August. A mikoshi is taken from its home at Toga Shrine in the Ako area, and is carried to Igaya, Izu, Kamitsuki, and Tsubota over the course of six days, spending the night at a shrine in each area. On the last day, the mikoshi is returned to the Toga Shrine.
Miyakejima Island’s produce includes ashitaba, snow peas, snap peas, red eddoes, leatherleaf fern, dracaena, lily, and other plants.
From the sea, Miyakejima Island offers Japanese rock lobster, kusaya (fish dipped in salt water and dried in the sun), bonito, red snapper, and turban shellfish. The season for Japanese rock lobster begins in autumn. Kusaya is type of dried fish invented in the Izu Islands about 400 years ago, and it has a distinctive flavor and taste, as well as a long shelf life. Kusaya is a popular choice as a souvenir or gift.
- Mackerel Sandwiches: are an inexpensive local treat made by first marinating grilled mackerel fillets in sake and soy sauce. A soft bread roll is toasted, spread with margarine, and filled with mackerel, lettuce, and red bell pepper, and an onion dressing. Mackerel sandwiches made can be purchased from the Saba Sand Cafe on the second floor of the ferry waiting room at Sabigahama Port, on days when the ferry departs from Miyakejima Island to Tokyo.
- Nritano: an Italian restaurant in the Kamitsuki Area. Salads made with homegrown vegetables, pasta with special roasted seaweed from Miyakejima Island, squid pasta, tempura made from local bamboo, and beautifully garnished carpaccio are highly recommended. Nritano also offers a wide variety of homemade wines, sake, and other liquors. Walk up Nakao Hill to the east of Oshaku Shrine. You will pass a children’s playground. Keep walking, and eventually you will find the restaurant.
Since the 2000 eruption, there has been a constant flow of sulfur dioxide gas coming from Mount Oyama. Residents of the island were once required to carry gas masks with them at all times. However, masks have not been needed for years. Alarms go off if there is a dramatic increase in the levels of toxic gases in the air.