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Amami Oshima – Japan’s Hidden Paradise Island

We are here today to talk about a place in Japan that many of you will probably have never heard of, let alone seen. I’m talking, of course, about the beautiful Japanese island of Amami Oshima. If you would like to know more about this amazing mysterious place, and maybe plan your next trip to a part of Japan you never knew existed, then read on and we will learn something together. Be warned, you may find a new place to fall in love with, and come away with an intense desire to visit. Enjoy!

Where is Amami Oshima?

Amami Oshima is the largest island of the Amami archipelago, and is part of a group of islands known as the Satsunan islands, located in the east China sea. To give you a little perspective, it is around one hundred and thirty nautical miles north of Okinawa.  So, it stretches far into the tropical east China sea, and this gives it something wondrous: the island is surrounded by Coral Reef. Coral Reef is on the verge of extinction, so many people are trying to save it as much as possible, and that’s why marine biologists flock to this island on a regular basis from all over the world. Of course, there is always scuba diving for holiday makers as well.

The History of the Island

The island has a vast history, that dates back to its first recorded existence as part of Japan in Nihon Shoki, a Japanese chronicle from the year 657 AD. But, of course, there have been archaeological digs on this island which put the dates back even further, to a time period called the Japanese Palaeolithic period, when archaeologists and historians alike agree is when it was most likely first settled.

However, the history of the island isn’t all happy, as in World War Two the American Military took control of the island and remained in control until the mind 1950s, when it was handed back over to the Japanese Government. And, one other thing, in recent times, as recent as the year 2001, there was a naval battle between Japanese Coast Guard ships and a North Korean trawler, which made worldwide news, and the North Korean vessel was sunk in the process.

Don’t worry, though, as it is now a safe haven for paradise lovers, as you well see as you read on.

Animal and Plant Life

We have just mentioned the amazing Coral Reef that surrounds the island, but Japan, being one of the most diverse places on earth for flora and fauna (plant and animal life), and with this island being tropical, there is no doubt that you will see some things here that are impossible to see in the rest of the world.

One of the islands main attractions is the beautiful waters that surround it, and during the winter time you may be able to catch a glimpse of the most endangered whale in the world. I’m talking about the Pacific Right Whale. This is the only place on earth where there have been sightings of this whale in over a century. You are completely free to take a ship out to the surrounding waters every winter, and experience regular sightings of the humpback whale, something that is on many peoples bucket lists. Is it on yours?

Economy

This island has survived for many, many years now not just on tourism, but on its agriculture industry. The agriculture on this island is very large, and paves the way for the island’s inhabitants to live long, strong and happy lives. The main form of agriculture is that of pure sugar cane. But, there’s also a large sector of sweet potato cultivation, and, along with the rest of Japan, significant rice production. This isn’t just any ordinary rice producing place, though, because the island has a type of climate (warm, tropical) that allows it two rice crops per year, whereas many places that produce rice have only one crop per year. There was once a very large production of high quality silk produced on this island, but this has slowly but surely fallen to a smaller production over the last few decades.

Language

Many of you may not be aware of this, but in Japan there are many languages spoken. The main one, of course, being Japanese, but on the smaller islands there are other languages that may have some similarities to Japanese, but should not be confused. The Amami language, for example, is very ancient indeed. They have two different dialects which kind of split the island in two. The main one is mainly spoken in the north. Sadly, though, there are fears of these languages dying out as younger generations are only fluent in Japanese, and not in the traditional Amami language, unlike their elders. It has come to a point in recent years where even UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has regarded these languages spoken by the Amami people as officially endangered, and on the verge of complete extinction within the next couple of generations. So, if you want to learn about the original Amami languages, then now is the best time to go and visit this magical place and its fascinating inhabitants.

Transportation

You may be fooled into thinking that as the island is where it is geographically, that the routes on and off this island are very few and far between and even may be too difficult to think about. You would be wrong, though, because the transport links in and out of Amami Oshima are absolutely excellent. We’ll start with Amami airport. Other than being a hub for light air transport to nearby and surrounding islands, there are also links to major Japanese cities such as Kagoshima, Fukuoka,  Naha, and even Osaka. And don’t worry, they also have a direct link to Tokyo Airport, which I’m sure is one of the most important transport links you could think of.

There is also one of the main ports in the whole of the East China Sea, situated on Amami Oshima. The Naze port is a major spot for ferries to and from the surrounding islands, and even back to the mainland of Japan. It is also essential for the shipping of their agricultural goods to Japan, and the rest of the world too.

So, there you have it. The wonderful paradise island of Amami Oshima. If you have never been to a tropical island before then make this your first one. I promise you, you will want to come back again and again.

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