Flying in low over Hachijo Jima, it is immediently apparent why the few snippets of information about this remote yet close island found on the internet are so glowing. Only an hour south of Tokyo by plane (and not all that expensive, about $110 AUD one way), the island gives off a strong tropical, hippy, carefree vibe. Just the way to relaxing after spending time (even if it was only 2 nights!) in Tokyo.
The owner of the guesthouse I was staying in, Keiko, picked me up from the airport with the news that “Qantas rang, they’ve found your luggage”. And that was it, I fell in love with the island. A quick tour showed a tiny island – the main drag was easily walkable (ok, only easy if it wasnt so damn hot!), and there was greenery everywhere. Birds singing, water visible from every standing point, and hey, it has an Aussie pub!
Keiko’s place, the Galaxy Guesthouse, was gorgeous. Perched on the side of one of the mountains, it overlooks the ocean, with fantastic night views. Run by two gorgeous cats (one of whom spent each and every night on my bed!), it was the perfect place to unwind to of a night. Keiko is the perfect host, and speaks impeccable English, making it all that much easier for a non Japanese speaker! She also knows the best onsens!
My first day was spent on a bike – as my luggage had not yet turned up, I didn’t have my international drivers licence, which meant I couldnt hire a car. In any case, I headed down to the waterside, found some shade and read my book for a while. Eventually I headed back to Keiko’s office, only to find myself completly lost. I approached a guy, and asked him where I was, and how to get back to downtown. He threw my bike in the back of his car, and drove me in, everyone is so incredibly friendly. No-one locks anything, including cars – a little hard to get used to!
The following days were spent at onsens (the island has a heap of them, some free, some not, one at the bottom of a waterfall, amazing), the ‘Anchor Pub’ (owned and run by Steve, an Aussie who has found ‘the better life’), and swimming (the water was so fresh, great way to cool off). My bags eventually turned up about halfway through my stay, so I was able to hire a car to see the island – a must for anyone who is considering going, whilst it’s small, it’s also extremely hilly, combine that with the heat (its mid-summer at the moment, so about 30-35 celcius each day, plus extreme humidity) and you have more than enough reasons to warrant hiring a car. And it’s only 3000 yen (about $30 AUD) per day.
Eventually I had to leave, but I will be back for sure. I’ll be writing up a ‘how-to’ about Hachijo Jima (as I found so little information on it before I went), so watch out for it. Am now in Hakone, the area below the bottom of Mt Fuji. Hopefully it will clear tomorrow and I’ll get some good pictures.
Love to all xoxo