Discovering Aogashima: An Idyllic Japanese Hamlet Nestled Beneath the Roar of a Live Volcano


Two centuries and thirty years ago, a volcanic eruption resulted in the death of half the population. Despite this tragedy, the inhabitants of Agoshama refuse to let the volcano determine their fate.

The year 1785 will always be remembered by the inhabitants of Aogashima, an island located approximately 200 miles south of Tokyo in the Philippine Sea. On May 18, the ground began to shake and the island’s volcano started emitting huge plumes of gas and smoke, hurling rocks, mud and other debris into the sky. By June 4, the island’s 327 residents were forced to evacuate, but only about half were able to do so successfully, resulting in the tragic loss of many lives. The events of that year left a lasting impact on the people of Aogashima.

Aogashima is a fascinating island with a unique shape that resembles a tropical scene from the set of Jurassic Park or Lost. This is due to its volcanic caldera within a larger caldera. The entire island is essentially made up of the volcano, which is still considered active by the Japanese Meteorological Agency – the governmental agency responsible for monitoring the nation’s 110 active volcanoes. Although the locals are aware of the potential risks, they are willing to take their chances and focus on the benefits of living in this lush paradise. It is certainly a place worth visiting for anyone interested in experiencing the beauty and power of nature firsthand.

The village of Aogashima is mostly situated within the outer crater wall, with several roads zigzagging throughout the island’s center. Compared to life on Japan’s mainland, Aogashima offers a stark contrast. One can reach Tokyo by a 200-mile ferry journey or by helicopter, but the crush of being just a speck among Tokyo’s 13.4 million residents is often enough for islanders to crave the solitude they experience back home on their island. For the islanders, every new day is another opportunity to revel in their paradise.

Credit for the image goes to an unknown source.

The credit for the image goes to an unknown source, as the original creator is not identified.

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