Nijima island

Nijima, Tokyo (新島村)

If you’re looking for somewhere to get away from the crazy Tokyo city life, I highly recommend checking out Nijima Island. (“Nijima Island” is one of those redundancies, like the Rio Grande River. Just as “Rio” means “River,” so does “jima” mean “island.” But I’m going to call it Nijima Island from time to time)

How to Get to Nijima

It’s not hard. You just need to get to Tokai Kisen, a transportation company, which is right near Hamamatsucho Station. Tokai Kisen sells you the ferry tickets, and then you just hop on the boat at your appointed time.

Screenshot from when I was nearby the ferry station

Tickets are cheap: I paid about $200 for a round trip. And the boat ride itself is amazing, too. I spent several hours out in the night sky. First, I watched the city of Tokyo disappear out into the dark haze. Then, in the morning, I emerged onto the deck to see the sun rise and watch golden rays of light playing on the cool ocean waves.

Also, since it’s Japan, you can drink beer anywhere, which is still a novelty for an American like me. (Yeah, they can drink openly in New Orleans, but that is not the norm for the US. If I ever go back to the States, I’ll need to get used to that criminal feeling every time you drink outside of your living room).

Tokyo Island Vacation Nijima
Ferry Route from Tokyo to Nijima

My Experience at Nijima

I think Nijima is worth it.

The island itself was gorgeous. The beaches were soft and white and warm. The water was clear blue.

But vacations depend on who you go with. I joined a group of people with whom I didn’t totally click, and the whole thing was awkward. Luckily, I managed to spend a lot of time alone. I probably spent two hours just sitting on the shoreline scribbling this idea for a short story in my notebook.

It’s called “The Man Who Shook His Fist at the Ocean.”

It was fun. Good times.

The sea foam kept crashing against the rock. And across the way, there was this island that kind of looked like a giant turtle monster coming out of the sea. I kept imagining the man who shook his fist at the ocean shaking his fist at the turtle, too. Maybe there would be a lonely person on that island, as well. Maybe they would be rivals. Maybe those lonely rivals would secretly, in their hearts, wish to be friends.

Too bad they have built callouses over their tenderest of feelings. Too bad they just keep shaking their fists at the ocean. At each other.

Later, I went exploring on my own, and found a broken sidewalk in a Nijima beach. I assume a tsunami broke it down at some point in its history. If you look closely, you can see the other side across the way.

A broken sidewalk in a Nijima beach

Cycling in Nijima

I sort of befriended these randoms and followed them around by bicycle around Nijima Island. We found a shrine, and I made them stop and wait for me while I went up to the shine and explored.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • A small temple
  • Grasshoppers
  • Butterflies
  • Poison Ivy near my ankle

But I also learned something interesting that day: if for some stupid reason, you wander off into the forest on a random island in a foreign country and you get poison ivy, if you spend all day in the ocean after that, the poison ivy near your ankle goes away pretty quick.

Life lessons.

Nijima’s Touristy Area

In the end, I wound up back in Nijima Island’s touristy area. In the picture below, you can see it all. On the right side, what looks like the ruins of an ancient Greek polis is really an onsen (Japanese hot spring). It is warm (artificially heated, I think, so probably not a “real” onsen, but technically a “ryokan”). You can sit there and bask in its heat at night, and look at the stars above in the lucid black sky. There are also other hot tubs down below. They vary in temperature. One of them is really hot, and it boiled the shit out of one of my sunburns. Can you say, “fresh lobster”?

Then there’s the wall along the right side of the photo, presumably to keep out the typhoons and whatnot.

Finally, you have those lagoons down there, hidden behind the rocks. I went swimming down there. I lay down in the water with my back against the sand. It was an amazing experience. And I took home a bunch of rocks. They are green and smooth and surprisingly light.

As I write this, I have one sitting here next to me. Its smooth texture and pleasing weight will always remind me of my trip.

If you’re ever in Tokyo and you want to get away from the city, why don’t you check out Nijima Island? The water is clear, the sand is gorgeous, the ryokan is warm, and the souvenirs are free, as long as they’re rocks taken from the bay.

Just make sure you go with the right crowd. You know. People who appreciate you.

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