Iwo Jima Island - Higashi Onsen
We visited Iwo Jima Island "Higashi Onsen" in Mishima, Kagoshima. Note that this island is different from Iwo Jima in Tokyo. To get to Iwo Jima, it takes three and a half hours from the Kagoshima port using the ferry Mishima. The ferry offers three services a week, also you can use an airplane to get to Iwo Jima from the Kagoshima airport which offers two services a week.
As indicated in the name (Iwo 硫黄 means sulphur), the volcanic gas containing a lot of sulphur is shaping like a cloud over the mountains. Also, the seawater contains rich ion ions which makes the sea colour brown. In the 10th to 13th centuries, this island was used as a hub for Japan-China foreign trade.
Higashi Onsen is situated on the east side of the island in the bottom of the mountains.
You need to walk on rocks to get to Higashi Onsen.
The hot spring water is green-coloured. Higashi Onsen has three green acidic springs, and there are two big baths and one small bath, all of them are really close to the ocean.
The ripple on the surface indicates the location of the gushing point, this area is strongly green-coloured.
Hideto (the name of the man in the bath) had been working for the Iwo Jima public office for a long time. He explained us that Higashi Onsen contains a rich amount of alum and thus the water quality is excellent. It was lucky to meet him because he generally lives in Kagoshima city.
We had another lucky opportunity. We were able to watch sea turtle swimming. Sea turtles come to Iwo Jima Island to deposit their eggs on the shore in summer.
We also had a chance to see wild peacocks. They were not originally living in Iwo Jima Island, they were brought to this island in 1970s when the resort development was carried out. At that time, Guineafowl were also brought to the island, however they are extinct now. As there are no enemies such as Raccoon dogs or Boars, only peacocks are surviving.
A flying peacock. This was the first time for us to see a peacock flying.
Finally, we have one more funny story. There is a Djembe Academy in Iwo Jima Island. Why is there an academy for a west african instrument in an tiny island in Japan? We wondered and asked the history. The Djembe Academy was founded 20 years ago by the founder Hideto as a part of a TV program of NHK, and that has rooted in Iwo Jima Island. It is amazing. If you have an interest on Djembe, see the academy website for details.
When the ferry arrives or leaves, the students welcome visitors with the live Djembe music. They continued to wave their hands in the strong rain when we left the island. We deeply appreciate it and it is unforgettable. Thanks!
Name: Iwo Jima Island - Higashi Onsen
Address: Iōjima, Iojima, Mishima, Kagoshima
Access (Car): 10 min from the Iwo Jima port. 20 min from the Iwo Jima airport
Parking Lot: 10
Opening Hours: 24/7