Niijima had a different atmosphere than Kozushima and Shikineshima. While the later were quiet and laid back, Niijima was overrun with surfers. On the boat leaving Niijima to Toshima and Oshima we were packed in like refugees!

Beside beaches, the biggest event going on that evening was a local festival. Here you can see local women performing a dance in front of the major temple on the island.

But just a few minutes walk away from the bustle of the festival was a deserted shrine, which was eerily silent at dusk.

Very close to the shrine and temple was an old graveyard with the graves of "Runin." During the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Izu Islands were penal settlements where the convicted were sent into criminal exile. All of the Izu Islands had such graveyards, and over a period of two hundred years, Niijima saw approximately 1,300 come to their shores. Many of the accused were political prisoners (I have no original photos, but you can see pictures of Niijima's grave site on this page here, in Japanese.)

Leaving the next morning, a fog covered the northern mountains of Niijima.


Next stop, albeit briefly: Toshima.


The original plan had been to spend a good six hours at Toshima before heading on to Oshima, but the general consensus of the locals was that there was nothing to do at Toshima except climb the volcano at the center of the island, which took the better part of a day (more than six hours). So I ended up never touching foot on Toshima, and these two pictures are all I have.

As you can see, the main geological feature of the island is the volcano. The island is only four square kilometers, with a population of less than 300 people.




c. 2005 C. GUNSON