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5 nature-themed activities to try on Amami Oshima

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By Louise George Kittaka

Amami Oshima is the largest of the eight Amami Islands, an archipelago lying southwest of Kyushu and part of Kagoshima Prefecture. In July 2021, Amami Oshima and the neighboring Tokunoshima were added to UNESCO’s list of World Nature Heritage Sites in recognition of their unique ecosystems and native fauna and flora. The island is excellent for swimming, snorkeling and boating. Like most visitors, my partner and I enjoyed a kayak tour at the Mangrove Park during our weekend getaway, but there is so much more to do.

There are flights from multiple airports around Japan and a ferry service between Amami Oshima and Kagoshima. A rental car is the most convenient way to explore the island. Additionally, there’s a bus service provided by Shimabus.

Here are five nature-themed attractions and activities you shouldn’t miss when visiting Amami Oshima.

1. Night tour of the local wildlife

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The star of the show, Amami rabbit Photo: WikiCommons/ Ales Bucek

It was raining when we met our nature guide, Masataka Kawauchi, but he assured us that the wildlife wasn’t afraid of getting wet. Nature specialist Kawauchi leads groups on kayak tours at Mangrove Park during the day, but he is equally adept at spotting the creatures of the night. We set off in a comfortable SUV and soon arrived on the designated forest road, where traffic is strictly limited through a registration system to ensure minimum disturbance to the animals.

The stars of the show are the Amami rabbits, a species that once roamed all over Asia but is now only found on Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima. The little black creatures obligingly stopped long enough for us to “hop” out of the car and get some photos. We also saw several types of pretty frogs, including the speckled Amami Ishikawa frog and a Ryuku Scops Owl. The diminutive birds can be tough to find, but our guide identified our owl from its cry.

“Through these night tours, we hope that not only the residents of the island but also visitors will appreciate the biodiversity and understand how we must carefully protect and preserve these rare creatures for the future,” Kawauchi says.

Amami, Kagoshima 894-1202 - Map

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission: ¥2,000 (Adults), ¥500 (Children)

Nearest bus stop: Mangrove Park Mae

www.kagoshima-kankou.com/for/attractions/10218

Book your Night Tour of local wildlife through Mangrove Park

2. Heart Rock

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Catch this attraction while the tide permits. Photo: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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