10 Top reasons to visit Amami Oshima

Amami Oshima is part of the Kagoshima prefecture and can be found south of Kagoshima city, very close to Okinawa. The island is very popular for its beautiful beaches and the great jungle. You can reach Amami by ferry from Kagoshima or by airplane from Kagoshima, Osaka and also from Tokyo. Especially from Osaka and Tokyo the low cost airline Vanilla air offers some great deals for visiting the island. 
If you are thinking about visiting the island, the following 10 reasons might help you for your final decision:

1. Climate
As a part of the southern islands of Kyushu Amami Oshima has a subtropical climate with very hot and humid summers and warm winters. Especially in the summer month July and August temperatures can go up to 40 degrees. Also the sun is very strong in summer, it is recommended to protect your skin very well from the sun. 
May and September is the typhoon season. It will rain most of the time and can get very dangerous being in the jungle area of the island.
If the summer is too hot for you and you don´t want to go swimming and more over want to spend some time to explore the island February – March and October – November might be perfect for you. The temperature varies between 15 and 20 degree, but most of the time it will be sunny, which gives you a warm nice feeling. It is the perfect temperature for walking around the beach and even for putting your legs into the water. 

2. Beaches 
You can find man beautiful sand beaches almost everywhere on the island. Besides swimming or relaxing on the beach, the island is also a perfect spot for all kinds of water sports like surfing, diving or fishing.
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Popular beaches are the Ohama beach, Kursaki beach or the Yoan Beach. Just close to the Yoan beach is a popular sightseeing spot called “Heart rock”. You can see many heart shaped rocks on the beach during low tide.

3. Jungle
Besides the beautiful beaches you can find a great jungle everywhere on the island. The plants and trees are growing amazing fast, that often streets are full plants and it is hart to go somewhere. 
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A very huge jungle is the Kinsakubaru virgin jungle near Amami City. Walking through the jungle you can enjoy a great view to the amazing nature of the island. There are many giant banana plants and very beautiful gigantic fern. You can even book a tour through the jungle with a guide, who will explain all the plants and the top spots to you. 
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4. Exotic animals
The island has a very big variety of exotic animals, which you can really find everywhere on the island if you are silent and patient enough. For example you can find the Lidth's Jay, the White's thrush and the Ryukyu Robin bird on the island. Even on the beach you can see many different small craps and birds looking for something to eat. 
One of my favorite animals are butterflies and the island is really full of them. Some streets are really a butterfly paradise.
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The most famous creature of the island is the black Amami rabbit, which looks more like a big mouse because of the small ears, than like a rabbit. 
Unfortunately, you can see it only when it is dark, otherwise it´s always hiding in the caves. 
The black Amami rabbit is only native to the island and can not be find anywhere else in the world. 

5. Whale and turtles season
From January to April you have the chance to see the beautiful Humpback whales swimming close to the beaches of Amami Oshima from the Siberian sea. You have to book a tour on a boat to see the whales. Some tours also offers to swim with the whales which is a great experience for everybody!
Also during the spring season it is possible to see thousands of turtles putting their eggs on the beach. During that time it is not allowed to go to the beach but you can watch the turtle form the side, but please be silent and don´t bother them. 
6. Canoeing in the mangrove forrest
 The island is full of huge jungles, but there is also a small area where you can find many plants in the water. Those trees are called mangrove trees and can be found at the mangrove forest at the eastside of the island.  The mangrove forest is the second largest in Japan. The best way to explore the area is doing a canoeing tour, which you can do in a group with a guide or alone for a few hours.  Doing that tour you will have the chance to see the beautiful nature of Amami from the water. Also the water in the park is very low, that´s why it is perfect to watch small fishes swimming around. 
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7. Cuisine
Even Amami Oshima is an island it has more to offer than just seafood. Of course there seafood is very good like the very delicious tuna bluefin, but the most popular and very traditional dish is the chicken keihan, a rice soup with vegetable and chicken slices.
You can also find some very good tropical fruits like mango or Papaya on the island. They even have papaya pickles, which has a really unique taste.
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My favorite dish is the small sde dish "umibudo", which you can also find in Okinawa. Umibudo is green seaweed in the shape of very small grapes. With vinegar and ponzu it is the perfect snack.
8. Funangyo Wasserfall
If you like waterfalls, you will love the Funangyo waterfall. It is kind of difficult to go there, because the way is half destroyed from taifuns and earthquakes, but it is still possible to go there. Just watch out your step and your head!
The waterfall is in the middle of the jungle and amazing big. Standing in front of the waterfall feels a little bit like beeing in the rainforest. The nature around it is really beautiful.
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9. Corals and Shells
 The Island has so many beautiful sand beaches. What can you usually find there? Shells! Tons of shells. Small and big ones, round and flat ones, but also many impressive corals in every kind of shape. It is really a treasure hunter paradise. Don´t forget to bring a small bucket for all the great treasures.
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10. fabric dyeing

Fabric, which was dyed in mud can be only found in Amami Oshima. The natural mud-dyeing process needs a lot of time and energy, but the result will be a beautiful natuals black dyed fabric, often used for kimono.
You can join a tour, where you will learn about all the steps of mud-dyeing and you will also have the chance to dye your own shirt or scarf. It is really a unique experience.
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Are these good reasons to visit Amami Oshima? Share your experience!

Kerstin Yamane