5 nature-themed activities to try on Amami Oshima

Amami Oshima is the most important of the eight Amami Islands, an archipelago lying southwest of Kyushu and a part of Kagoshima Prefecture. In July 2021, Amami Oshima and the neighboring Tokunoshima were added to UNESCO’s list of World Nature Heritage Sites in recognition of their unique ecosystems and native fauna and flora. The island is great for swimming, snorkeling and boating. Like most visitors, my partner and I enjoyed a kayak tour on the Mangrove Park during our weekend getaway, but there’s so way more to do.

There are flights from multiple airports around Japan and a ferry service between Amami Oshima and Kagoshima. A rental automobile is probably the most convenient method to explore the island. Moreover, there’s a bus service provided by Shimabus.

Listed below are five nature-themed attractions and activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting Amami Oshima.

1. Night tour of the local wildlife

The star of the show, Amami rabbit Photo: WikiCommons/ Ales Bucek

It was raining after we met our nature guide, Masataka Kawauchi, but he assured us that the wildlife wasn’t afraid of getting wet. Nature specialist Kawauchi leads groups on kayak tours at Mangrove Park through the day, but he’s equally adept at spotting the creatures of the night. We set off in a snug SUV and shortly arrived on the designated forest road, where traffic is strictly limited through a registration system to make sure minimum disturbance to the animals.

The celebs of the show are the Amami rabbits, a species that when roamed throughout Asia but is now only found on Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima. The little black creatures obligingly stopped long enough for us to “hop” out of the automobile and get some photos. We also saw several varieties of pretty frogs, including the speckled Amami Ishikawa frog and a Ryuku Scops Owl. The diminutive birds could be tough to search out, but our guide identified our owl from its cry.

“Through these night tours, we hope that not only the residents of the island but in addition visitors will appreciate the biodiversity and understand how we must rigorously protect and preserve these rare creatures for the longer term,” Kawauchi says.

Amami, Kagoshima 894-1202 – Map

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to six p.m.

Admission: ¥2,000 (Adults), ¥500 (Children)

Nearest bus stop: Mangrove Park Mae


Book your Night Tour of local wildlife through Mangrove Park

2. Heart Rock


Catch this attraction while the tide permits. Photo: Kyushu Tourism Organization

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