Niijima Island

       
Niijima Island

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Nii-jima is a volcanic Japanese island in the Philippine Sea. The island is administered by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It is one of the Izu Seven Islands group of the seven northern islands of the Izu archipelago, and is located approximately 163 kilometres (101 mi) south of Tōkyō and 36 kilometres (22 mi) south of Shimoda Shizuoka Prefecture. The island is the larger inhabited component of the village of Niijima Village, Ōshima Subprefecture of Tokyo Metropolis, which also contains the larger, neighboring island of Shikine-jima and the smaller, uninhabited Jinai-tō. Nii-jima is also within the boundaries of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Nii-jima is unusual amongst the Izu Islands in that it has an elongated shape. Measuring approximately 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) long by 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) wide, it has a land area of 23.87 km². The island is made of eight rhyolitic lava domes in two groups at the northern and southern ends of the island, separated by a low, flat isthmus. The Mukai-yama complex in the southern portion of the island and the Achiyama lava dome at the northern end were formed during Nii-jima's only historical eruptions in the 9th century AD. The northern end also contains Miyatsuka-yama, the island’s highest point, at 432 metres (1,417 ft). Shikine-jima and Jinnai-to are part of the same complex, and form separate islands to the southwest and west of Nii-jima. Rhyolite lava gives the island its famed white cliffs and white sandy beaches

Nii-jima is 2 hours and 20 minutes away by jet boat from Takeshiba Sanbashi Pier, in Tokyo, operated by Tōkai Kisen. Tōkai Kisen also operates a 9-hour overnight ferry. The ferry leaves Takeshiba Sanbashi at 22h00 (23h00 in the summer months) and arrives early morning in Izu Ōshima (approximately 6h00), before continuing on to To-shima (7h00), Nii-jima (8h00), Shikine-jima (8h30), and Kōzu-shima (9h30). The ferry then returns following the same route, leaving Nii-jima at 12h00 and docking in Tokyo at 17h00. It is possible that in rough weather, the ferry is unable to dock in Nii-jima.

There are daily flights, weather permitting, from Chōfu Airport located in western Tokyo. The flight takes approximately 45 minutes.

Other ferries leave from Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Niijima-mura also operates a high-speed ferry between Nii-jima and Shikine-jima with 3 boats per day, and 4 per day in the summer months.

Maehama Beach on the western side of Nii-jima sees many wind surfers. The triathlon and ocean water swims take place here. Mt. Fuji can often be seen from Maehama.

Habushi Beach, on the eastern side of the island, is a nationally protected reserve with its waves and white sand, and is a good location for surfing. The beach is approximately 6.5 km long and is overlooked by koga volcanic cliffs, the highest of which is 250 meters.

Moyai Hill, overlooking Yunohama and Maehama beaches, contains more than 100 large stone carvings. In the local dialect, moyai means 'to work together in effort', and these statues make evident this effort. On the western side of JR Shibuya in Tokyo proper is a giant moyai statue, a gift from the people of Nii-jima.

Yunohama Onsen hot spring, on Yunohama Beach, is a large outdoor bath built in the style of pseudo-Greek ruins that provides stunning panoramic views of the setting sun and the Pacific Ocean. The bath itself accommodates up to 100 bathers. Water used in the bath is drawn from the ocean below.

Jūsansha Jinja, is a Shinto shrine at the base of the cliffs of Mt. Miyatsuka in the north-western corner of the main village on the island. This shrine, built in the Edo period, is recognized as caretakers of intangible cultural assets by the Tokyo government for the kagura music and sacred dancing, known as shishi-kiyari that are held every December 8.

Nearby Jūsansha is Chōei-ji, Chōei Temple, a temple dedicated to Nichiren Buddhism. Beside the temple lies the Exiles' Cemetery. The cemetery, covered with the local white sand, is dominated by the gravestones of the 118 exiles, banished to Niijima by the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo era for non-political crimes.

A short walk from Chōei Temple is the Exile Execution Ground. Eleven exiles who committed crimes on the island were executed here. Komori Yasu, from the kabuki story 'Yowa Nasake Ukinano Yokoguchi' is buried here.

Niijima Glass Art Center is a world-renowned site which hosts the Niijima International Glass Art Festival every autumn. At the center, visitors are able to create their own glass work to take home. Next to the museum is the Niijima Glass Art Museum which houses works from guest artists at the festival.

Niijima-mura Museum, houses artifacts from the island’s pre-history up to its modern-day surfing culture. Included is a replica fishing vessel and house from the Edo period. Details of the criminal exiles are given. A collaborative effort between the education board and the English department at Niijima High School ensured that the museum is completely bilingual: Japanese-English.
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