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I'm in Tokyo.
Yes this really is Tokyo.
It's about 360 kilometers away from the city center and
I'm on this tropical island in the middle the Pacific for an entire week.
There's lots of things to see and do here, but the thlabe
Welcome to Aogashima.
Central Tokyo is one of the world's biggest and most well known cities, but it's a lot bigger than many people think
Besides the mountains to its west, Tokyo includes many Pacific islands.
The closest ones have airports. There's Aogashima at the end, but Tokyo doesn't stop there.
You have to stretch out over 1,800 kilometers,
1,100 miles away from the city center to islands that include Iwo Jima and Okinotori.
Further south than Hong Kong. Ogasawara island is a 24 hour ferry ride, but they're all administered by Tokyo.
Aogashima is our destination. Tokyo's Jurassic Park looking island with a volcano inside a volcano.
Maruyama is the volcano inside this crater, a jungle, and the town sits 200 metres above the sea in the north.
Getting there means a long ferry ride or a flight from Tokyo to nearby Hachijojima.
Where you have to change to another ferry or, one of Tokyo's most unique forms of public transportation,
the helicopter. That's right Tokyo has buses, subways, ferries, and helicopters.
It's eleven thousand five hundred and thirty yen, or about a hundred dollars for the 20 minute ride.
You have to reserve a month in advance because it only seats eight.
The helicopter departs Hachijojima airport after the ANA flight returns to Haneda airport in Central Tokyo.
9:20 a.m. daily.
Tokyo's island helicopter system has ten daily flights transporting commuters and tourists over the Pacific.
The other way is by ferry,
but Aogashima's port is very tough to dock at and trips are sometimes canceled or turned back in route.
Helicopter is the most reliable method.
There's Aogashima now.
On the approach you can see that the town is high off the sea.
Many residents come to the heliport. The owner of the inn I was staying at was there to pick me up.
I think helicopter is the best way to get to Aogashima.
The community on the island is small and close. When one student left the island for summer break, she was given a wonderful send off.
Aogashima is officially 358 kilometers from Central Tokyo.
It's also the smallest town in Japan, with only 160 residents.
The post office, it's where the only ATM is. The power plant.
The main road. An official city sign for Tokyo's most peaceful avenue.
The traffic light.
There's only one here and it's used in front of the school to teach kids that yeah,
there are traffic lights out there in the world.
There are vending machines and izakaya too. This pub was closed because the owner was away for a wedding.
But this one was open. From 6:00 p.m., Monji Izakaya may be the liveliest place on the island.
The food is good and yes, they have karaoke too.
Aogashima's famous for its shochu, potato distilled alcohol.
And Akira-san gives an amazing tour that includes a lot of tasting.
By the end of it I tasted over 12 different shochus including this one.
But seriously, the island shochu is really good. Most people bought the premium label and they got to put it on themselves at the factory.
I stayed at Tametomo, a cozy inn and just a couple of minutes walk from the heliport.
It was an incredibly comfortable stay with free coffee and tea, and three meals a day.
Besides the two izakaya there's no restaurant on the island. So it's a good idea to sign up for the meals.
This is Kyoko-san, and for over a week she made my stay a lot of fun, and I felt like I was part of
a family just after a couple of days here.
The food is home-cooked island fare, and very good.
Upon request you can get a bento to eat out. That allows you to explore the island and stay energized.
Yoshino-san came to pick me up in the morning for a trip to the crater.
It's a long hour walk from the town, or a 10 minute drive.
The town is about 200 meters up, and the crater is at the bottom so, there's a tunnel, a long one lane tunnel.
The openings are a little wider to allow traffic to pull to the side.
Welcome to the crater. That's Maruyama in the center, all of it covered in jungle.
Few people live down here. Those clearings are mostly vinyl covered farms.
There are no taxis here so people rent a car, walk, or hitchhike.
There's some good hiking around Maruyama, and a viewpoint to see the island.
It's mostly pristine jungle.
The side near the port has the most activity.
Basically it's a lot of green down there.
Summers are hot, but it's about to get even hotter.
This is a unique volcanic steamer open to the public for cooking.
One resident has prepared quite a feast for lunch. Fish, vegetables, eggs,
and a steamed cake.
Yoshino-san and I had our lunch prepared by Kyoko-san at the inn. Lots of vegetables in a bag with curry sauce.
Yoshino-san: Mystery.
John: Mystery, LOL.
They'll be in there for 30 to 45 minutes. There's a lever under the steamer to turn it on and off.
Yep it's on. All that steam coming naturally from the ground.
After 40 minutes lunch was ready, and served in a nearby picnic area.
The volcanic steamed lunch is a real Aogashima treat, and inside that mystery foil, delicious fish.
But I was curious about Maruyama in the center.
Maru meaning circle. Yama, Mountain. The island is scientifically considered a complex Quaternary volcanic island.
The ridges on the side of Maruyama are man-made. They were used to plant flowers in the rows.
But if you want to go inside this class C volcano, you'd better bring someone local,
and Akira-san from the shochu factory volunteered to guide me.
He's one of the only people who still wanders into the center of the crater, and he knows the island's long history.
We wandered off the trail into the dense jungle. The humidity level in here was insanely high.
This is really dangerous going into the center of the...
Center of Maruyama.
I'm glad Akira-san is with me because I wouldn't be able to do this alone.
This area used to be inhabited.
Akira-san went even deeper.
There weren't any visible landmarks and he navigates from memory.
We're going now down deep into the crater.
There's a lot more mosquitoes. Just go slowly. I should have worn pants and a long shirt but,
you know what, let's go with it.
I'm glad I have socks on at least.
So between the two ferns here.
These two trees. There used to be a house.
Centuries ago they really seemed to like to barbecue stuff on the island.
So this is the center here. This is where it erupted about 200 years ago and people...
So this is the place where the last eruption was
about 200 years ago, and after the eruption people lived down in here.
Now you can't see
from the drone from above what's down inside there so, I thought that was pretty cool that Akira-san showed us
some of the history of the island.
Even though
it's a jungle down there, LOL.
This is the oldest tree on the island. A lot of the younger residents don't know about it, but it's believed
to have survived the last eruptions between 1781 and 1785.
And it was beautiful enough to make me a real tree hugger.
Not far from Maruyama is Akira-san's farm, where one of his produce is the island's passion fruit.
Almost all of the produce on these farms are eaten by the farmers because there's no marketplace to sell them.
In the evening Akira-san came to the inn with a pot of the islands famous dish, Torinabe.
Torinabe uses the bones and meat from older hens when they can no longer lay eggs.
Like a fine wine, age gives extra flavor and the dish contains more bones than meat.
Torinabe is really about the dashi or soup stock.
The next day I decided to leave the inn and town for a night to live out in the jungle.
Today I'm moving from Onyado the inn to the camp spot,
and this is the only store on the island and I need to come here to get some supplies.
The store has just about everything you need for an adventure.
The family run supermarket also runs a rent-a-car business, and offers guide services.
Fresh produce come from the local farms are from nearby
Hachijojima on the ferry, when it's running. There's even ice cream, and a lot of food with a longer shelf life.
In some ways this could be considered the center of town.
The hour-long hike to the crater from the town splits at the tunnel, where the old road is now a hiking trail.
The jungle has taken over much of it.
If you want a camp, there's a campsite, but call ahead to let the staff know you're there.
So the camp area in Aogashima is free.
There aren't that many people that come here. There aren't that many facilities to speak of but there's a place to pitch your tent.
It's quiet; its natural,
and it's jungle. It really is, the only clearing is where volcanic gas is still leaked out of the sand and rock.
Volcanic Sauna Steam Bath
This is the island sauna powered entirely by the geothermal energy below. It's open from afternoon to 8:00 p.m. and costs 300 yen.
There's a shower and bath but we're here for this, the sauna.
Woah! So hot!
Oh my gosh. It's like I've just entered the surface of the sun. It's all coming out of this heater here.
Ah. I don't know how this can be healthy it's so hot.
You can hardly breathe. It's like... like I'm breathing water.
I gotta get out.
It's just too hot.
In only 90 seconds my skin got this red. You spend a couple of minutes in there
You go back outside, it's not that hot anymore.
That's a sauna. Outside, that's just summer.
This is the Aogashima's port or Sanbō.
A ferry is scheduled to come five to six days a week, but some of those are canceled due to rough seas or high winds.
It's the cheapest way to get to Aogashima but,
it's not dependable so if you have to catch a flight back home, you'd better take the helicopter.
It's about a three hour trip from Aogashima to Hachijojima.
There's no beach on Aogashima, and the only way to access the sea is here.
It attracts a lot of people to come catch dinner.
In the summer kampachi or giant almaco jacks are easy to catch.
It's also a great place to relax.
Favorite Spots on Aogashima
That down there is Akira-san's ranch where I filmed the opening.
It's a majestic view and I learned about it, from Moemi.
She's the island's nurse stationed on Aogashima for six months.
She showed me one of her favorite places on the island.
We had to go up an overgrown path that led to this hill.
From here there are long views to Hachijojima that include the green pastures of the island.
Down below was the sea.
I asked Moemi about her story.
I'm really glad I ran into Moemi on the island.
The people I met here became my friends, and that is what makes this island special to me.
Aogashima is more than just an island.
I've been on the island for a few days now and in order to get from one side of the town to the other,
you can walk around which takes you a couple minutes longer or you can go the direct route.
Which is a little bit challenging and I affectionately called this road,
"The Steep Road Pit of Death"
Over the week I stayed here. This route was always an obstacle.
I've climbed steeper roads but it's the fact that I had to climb it so often that made it one of those memories
I won't forget.
It seems pretty harmless going down,
but it's the road going back up that's a killer.
You have to take little teeny baby steps to get up there.
You combine the heat of the sun pounding down on you and this steep.
Yeah, you know if this was the city of Tokyo, they would have built a bridge.
But they didn't and that's what makes this place pretty cool, it moves with nature.
Even after going up and down 25 times during my stay, I'd happily do it again which would mean,
I'm back on Aogashima.
Most visitors stay for just a day or two, but the longer I stayed the longer I felt a part of the island.
It really is Tokyo but, it moves at its own pace. The forces of nature are always present but when the skies are clear,
it's paradise in the Pacific.
What an incredible island. This is a side of Tokyo that I never knew existed
380 kilometres from the city center. This is still Tokyo and,
it's a tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific. If you put in the effort and you make the time,
this island Aogashima has loads and loads of adventures to give you.
Next time I head to the north of Honshu island to Aomori prefecture. Oma, home of the world's best Blue Fin tuna, maguro.
From the sea to the restaurant, to my stomach. A Blue Fin tuna adventure is swimming your way.
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またね (Bye for now)


東京の隠れた離島青ヶ島! (Tokyo Secret Island Paradise | AOGASHIMA (ONLY in JAPAN))

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Adrian 2019 年 9 月 7 日 に公開
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