Meet Mr. Takahashi, Amami’s professional guide!
Mr. Takahashi is an official guide of Amami and works at Mangrove Park, who is a former official of the Ministry of the Environment. This time, Mr. Takahashi, who knows Amami through and through, supervised our plan to enjoy Amami’s nature to the fullest (3 days / 2 nights plan).
For basic information about Amami Oshima Island, jump to the article below:
Basic information about Japan’s tropical island of Amami Oshima
Day-1: Drive through the northern part (Kasari and Ryugo) to the center
After arriving at Amami Airport, head south to the Amami city center (Naze) area while stopping at various beaches and stores in the northern area (Kasari and Ryugo).
Around Yanigawa Street in the central area of Amami, there are many restaurants including island cuisine restaurants. You can ask the hotel staff for dinner recommendations on places to eat.
A place to visit: Tomori Beach
When the weather is fine, and the wind is calm, enjoy the coral reefs of the Amami Sea at Tomori Beach, a 10-minute drive from Amami Airport. The beach is called “Blue Angel” because of the beautiful contrast between the beautiful blue sky and sea, white sandy beach, and clear water. It is also a popular snorkeling spot.
There are hermit crabs on the beach and various kinds of fish in the shallows, which will surely delight children. If you are lucky, you can even see sea turtles. It is recommended that you bring your marine shoes when you go into the sea. Also, remember to go on a sunny day when the wind is calm.
A place to visit: Cape Ayamaru
Ayamaru Cape, a 10-minute drive from Amami Airport and very close to Tomori Beach, is a great spot for families, especially those with small children. It is a large park where you can play in the sea as well as on playground equipment. From the observatory, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the ocean. There is also a cafe where you can relax and enjoy the view.
A place to visit: The Hill with a View of Two Oceans
A spectacular viewpoint on a hill! On a sunny afternoon, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the different colors of the two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, sparkling. It’s a bit difficult to find, so it’s a good idea to ask the rental car staff to show you how to get there or to set up a GPS for you. There is an old wooden deck (paraglider launcher), but it is private property and not in use, so it is dangerous. Please do not enter the deck.
Day-2: Enjoy nature at its best through activities
On the second day, you have plenty of time to enjoy the nature of Amami! You can schedule both morning and afternoon activities, or enjoy activities in the morning and relax on the beach in the afternoon.
Morning: The mangrove forest by canoe
The tour will take you on a canoe trip to explore the 710,000 square meters of virgin mangrove forests that only live in the tropics and subtropics. (This is a specially protected area of the Quasi-National Park.)
The course changes depending on the high and low tides. At high tide, you can canoe through the mangrove tunnels, and at low tide, you can observe rare wildlife and land on the mudflats. Small children are also welcome.
Admission fee and guide included: adult 2,000 yen, child 6-15 years old 1,800 yen per hour.
Afternoon: Beach activities
Enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, and SUP in crystal clear waters! We recommend renting a whole set at a store near the beach or joining a short tour (3 hours or more) that includes beach activities.
Dusk: Sunset over the Amami Sea
Here are Mr. Takahashi’s recommended sunset spots! Both of these spots are about a 15-30 minutes drive from the center of Amami so that you can stop by after your activities.
If you have small children, Ohama Kaihin Park is a better choice as it has a cafe, a spot to see sea turtles, and facilities such as restrooms.
Ohama Kaihin Park
Kuninao Sunset Park
Night: Amami’s starry sky at the beach
We recommend just sitting on the beach and star-gazing while listening to the sound of the waves.
If you are interested in the wildlife of Amami, several tour companies also offer night tours. These tours take you to explore the forest at night to see animals that live only in Amami.
Day-3: Shopping for souvenirs and getting some tasty food
Until your flight time, why don’t you visit some souvenir shops, stop by a cafe, or taste some traditional island cuisine while heading to the airport?
The local supermarket “Big Two” and the local convenience store “123 Mart” also have many Amami souvenirs. Delicatessen food is also available, so you can buy a taste of Amami and eat it at the beach. There are a few souvenir stores at the airport as well, so you can do some last-minute shopping!
Amami’s specialties: brown sugar
Brown sugar is a sugar made by boiling down the juice of sugar cane. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and calcium, it is used to break chunks into small pieces and eat them like candy, or to add a mild sweetness to foods.
In addition to brown sugar itself, banana chips covered with brown sugar and bite-sized doughnuts (Saata andagi) in brown sugar flavors are also popular souvenirs.
Amami’s specialties: Oshima Tsumugi (high-quality silk pongee)
Oshima Tsumugi is a specialty of Amami with a history of more than 1,300 years. The silk yarns are spun by hand, dyed with mud and a decoction of plants inhabiting the Amami area (called “mud dyeing”), and then woven by hand. Kimonos made of this silk fabric are considered to be one of the highest-quality products.
As souvenirs, pouches, neckties, and other small items are very popular. Masking tape featuring the unique patterns of Oshima Tsumugi is also a buzz item.
There are also workshops on the island where you can try mud dyeing. (You will experience dyeing in the mud. Most of them will lend you boots and other equipment for free, but be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty because the mud may splash on your clothes.)
Amami’s specialties: Amami Brown Sugar Shochu
Amami Oshima is located in the middle of Okinawa (the former Ryukyu Kingdom) and Kagoshima (the former Satsuma Domain) and has been ruled and influenced by both sides historically. Based on historical facts, there is a theory that distilled liquor and its production techniques were introduced to Amami in the mid-16th century. The culture was so deeply rooted in the region that each family made their own shochu until the licensing of sake brewing began in the Meiji era. After the war, under U.S. military rule, shochu was made with brown sugar instead of rice, which was in short supply. When Amami was returned to Japan (December 1953), the Japanese government approved the production of shochu using brown sugar only in the Amami Islands on the condition that it be made from rice malt and brown sugar, and it became a specialty product loved throughout Japan.
Special Thanks to Takahashi Shusaku San!
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