Aogashima is a small, tropical volcanic island in the Philippine Sea, under the administration of Tokyo despite being located some 358 kilometers away from the country’s capital. It is the southernmost and the most isolated inhabited island of the Izu archipelago. The island itself is a giant volcanic crater, and within that crater there’s another, smaller volcano. Aogashima is still considered an active Class-C volcano though it last erupted in the 1780′s. When last erupted it killed nearly half of the island’s population and forced the remaining inhabitants to flee. It took just fifty years for the people to return. Today, some 200 brave villagers live on the island.
Aogashima is a submarine volcano that has emerged from the sea and is part of a large crater whose outer rim height ranges from 200 m to 420 m in height. It’s believed that the island was formed by the overlapping remnants of at least four submarine calderas. Aogashima consists of the rims of the inner and outer craters. The southern coast rises to a sharp ridge forming one edge of a caldera named Ikenosawa with a diameter of 1.5 km. The caldera is occupied by a secondary cone named Maruyama, which is still emitting geothermal steam around an area where no plants are evident. Otonbu, the peak of the rim of the outer crater at a height of 432 meters above sea level, is the highest spot in the island. It commands a panoramic view of the entire volcano in the Pacific Ocean.
Life in Aogashima Volcano,
Around 200 people (205 at the 2009 census) live on the Aogashima volcanic island in the Philippine Sea. The island is part of the Izu archipelago, being administered by the city of Tokyo as part of the Hachijo Subprefecture. Located 220 miles south of Tokyo and 45 miles south of the nearest populated island, Aogashima is the most isolated populated island in the archipelago and is also considered the least populated municipality in Japan.
The island is extremely beautiful and intriguing, especially with its donut shape and with the small volcano in the center, a miniature copy of a volcano. According to geologists, the island was born from the remains of four submarine calderas, while the steep cliffs surrounding it were formed by volcanic deposits.
The volcano is currently classified as a Class-C active volcano, with last eruption taking place in 1785, when 140 people were killed, about half of the total population. However, current residents don’t seem to care so much and enjoy life on the island, with fishing and agriculture being the inhabitants’ main occupations. Additional income also comes from the small number of tourists and sports fishermen visiting the island. They have a department store, a post office, a school, a small port, a helipad and even a website. The small port is usually used by fishermen, since it’s too small to handle large ships and rough weather often makes it unusable. And even though the island can be reached by sea (there are daily ferrys from Hachijojima, but rough weather often gets the trips canceled), the helicopter is the most convenient way to get to the island (Toho Air is one of the companies offering helicopter service to Aogashima and a ticket costs around $130 per person).
Tourists visiting the volcano can also enjoy a geothermal sauna located right in the center of the island, while other activities include scuba diving and hiking (since the island is so small, any point can be reached walking). The entire island is less than 9sqkm . The island has one single road circling the entire island so one can go around the island by a walk easily with the help of a map. You can visit the island’s salt factory, which produces the island’s main export: Hingya Salt.The salt is produced by heating seawater using steam from the island’s natural volcanic blowhole.On the north edge of the island you can visit Oyama Prospect Park, from here you can view the island in 360 degrees. you can try the locally distilled Japanese spirit called shochu with the brand name Aochu obtained from sweet potatoes and wheat which is under small scale production hence supply is limited.