Aogashima Island Travel Blog / Tourism Guide
Aogashima Village, Sightseeing
Aogashima Village, Tokyo
Aogashima village belongs to Tokyo and the population is less than 200, which is the municipality with the smallest population in Japan (when I visited there.) And also, except for a time during Obon, most of the inhabitants leave the island for their jobs or their studies and it is said that the actual population is far less.
The village is centralized in the north of the island. In the small area, there are a village office, an elementary school, a junior high school, a library, a police box, a post office and a heliport. And also, most of the guest-houses are within walking distance. In spite of a small island with less than 200 people, the schools and the public facilities in there are so magnificent. It seems that the funds are injected into the island by Tokyo.
The island is in Tokyo Metropolitan, so every car running in the island has a Shinagawa-registered license plate, and as for a television broadcast, the same key station as the main part of Tokyo is broadcast.
This is not something limited to Aogashima, but the inhabitants always greet anybody and even when I greeted them, they returned a greeting to me. Elementary school students also greeted me cheerfully. When you greet them, they often start to make small talk with you, saying "Sightseeing? Where did you come from?" The inhabitants are basically talkative and friendly to the tourists. If you walk around the village, you will be naturally talked to by many inhabitants.
The island undulates and the village is also up and down repeatedly, so it takes a long time to walk a short distance and you will be soaked with sweat during the hot period of summer.
- You can see splendid stone walls in places.
- On the island, there are many single-storied houses.
- There are also many vacant houses on the island.
There are no addresses on the island. The whole island is called "Mubanchi (No address), Aogashima village, Tokyo", and postal matter is delivered only by writing an addressee. Actually, it does not mean that there are no names of places. It seems that there were some addresses on the island once and the local people have been using the names of places called since long ago. For example, "Yasundogo", "Seishigo", "Nakazato", "Ikenosawa" and "Jouman".
- The school houses are splendid and modern.
- The gyms of the elementary school and the junior high school are also splendid.
The roads in the island are narrow and they have not been well paved. The roads are so narrow that you can barely pass each other. Needless to say, there are no crossings with traffic lights. Exceptionally, there is a traffic light with a push button at the crosswalk located down the slope from the elementary school or the junior high school. Considering the location, I think it will be used for education or when a lot of children move all together. (The gym of the school is across the street.) Either way, they say one traffic light is necessarily set up in a remote island like Aogashima because it is dangerous for the inhabitants of the island to go out of the island if they have never seen a traffic light.
- The only traffic light in Aogashima is a push button signal.
Aogashima post office is the only financial institution in the island. Of course, automatic telling machines (ATM) are also in operation. The windows of the post office are open on Saturdays and holidays, so the convenience is unexpectedly good.
- At the end of the right side of the post office, you can see "Business Yado (Inn) Nakazato".
By the way, the inn at the end of the right side of the post office is "Business Yado (Inn) Nakazato" where I stayed this time.
Juichiya-Sakaten (liquor shop)
Juichiya-Sakaten is the only shop in Aogashima. The inhabitants of the island call it "Toichiya", but officially its name is "Juichiya." And it calls itself liquor shop, but it is like a supermarket where you can buy perishable food, confectionery and daily necessities. I do not know whether a shipping cost is added to the commodities, but the prices of commodities are high as I expected. It offers such large variety of commodities, so you will not have trouble living there.
- Juichiya-Sakaten is the only shop in the island.
I wanted to buy a washing detergent, but they did not sell a small amount of it and I had the shopper sell me a small amount of it specially.
They sell a lot of souvenirs of the island at Juichiya. There were individual packaging sweets which looked perfect for me to give my co-workers at the office, so I bought them, too.
- There were two cats sitting in front of Juichiya-Sakaten.
The cats sitting politely in fron of the shop were so impressive.
- The only gas station in the island.
And the workers at Juichiya-Sakaten also run a gas station across the street. The vending machines in the island are also carried on in the Juichiya’s name, so you may think that almost all the business activities in the village are under the control of Juichiya-Sakaten.
Izakaya (Tavern) Monji
There are only two taverns in the island, which are "Izakaya Monji" and "Ojare-suginosawa". I went to "Izakaya Monji" near Business Yado Nakazato. Izakaya Monji is at the head of the slope past the post office. It is a simple structure made of concrete with a small sign, so it may be difficult to find it tavern if you visit there for the first time.
- Izakaya Monji has a difficult appearance to find tavern.
The tavern opens from evening to midnight. When I went there late at night, it was lit up meagerly. The inside of it has a homely atmosphere. It has counters, tables and zashiki (Japanese tatami room), including karaoke set. The barkeeper is a good talker. And I heard that he is actually from Gunma Prefecture, and originally used to visit the island on business, and he heard that the former barkeeper would quit the job and he took over the job. Every night, some people gather in the tavern from nowhere and enjoy talking with him. I went there just during the Ushi-matsuri (Ushi Festival) and there were many people coming back to the island, who were talking about their families and relatives mainly at the tavern. I was a complete outsider, but in the course of listening to their talk, I was kind of able to understand their relations of their families and relatives.
There were many pictures of regular customers so far and their kinsfolk on the wall in the tavern and also some pictures of the village headman’s childhood, which were so interesting. Whoever visits there can feel a heart-warming atmosphere, which was as if all the people were a family.
In Izakaya Monji, there are female clerks waiting on customers, who are commonly called "Monji girls". Most of them are from outside the island and live in the dormitory which the barkeeper provided. "Monji girls" are few precious women for the men in the island who have few chances to meet marriageable women. So it is said that every man approaches them in their own way. Monji girls are changed once half a year or less than a year and they are gathered from the outside of the island every time. Whether each woman will be adopted or not is decided, basically judging from answering on the phone and their face pictures just because of a long distance. Some women get to like the island because of becoming a Monji girl and visit the island to hang out even after a contract period, and others cannot adapt themselves to the island and quit the job soon. As they say, each man has his own field of work.
- Visit Day
- 2011/08/07 - 10
- Contents of This Report