A “secret place” in the sea, strewn with many treasures… What are the Oki Islands?
The Oki Islands are made up of four populated islands and more than 180 uninhabited islands situated in the Sea of Japan. By 30,000 years ago, people were already living here, and during the Stone Age the volcanic rock obsidian was excavated and traded around Japan. During the middle ages, the islands were a place of exile for nobles like Emperor Godaigo, and during the early modern period, they were a port of call for merchant ships sailing the Kita-mae-bune (Northern Bound Ships) Trading Route on the Sea of Japan. Ships often had to stay and wait out sea storms. With each era, the Oki Islands have played a significant role.
With such a unique history, a landscape that provides glimpses of how the Sea of Japan formed, and an ecosystem that is full of mysteries, the Oki Islands are invaluable, even from a global perspective. The Oki Islands Geopark was authorised as a member of the Global Geoparks Network in 2013.
This dynamic landscape leaves a lasting impression. The islands were created by a former volcano, and feature dramatic undulating landscapes, and strangely shaped rocks and reefs that are ‘nature’s works of art’ along the coast. This island has a long history, and was where the Emperor Godaigo was exiled in the 14th century
Ama Town features the widest plain on the Dōzen Islands, and is blessed with spring water chosen as one of the ‘most delicious waters’ of Japan. A paradise of marine products, artifacts reveal that dried abalone from Ama Town was presented to the capital since the Nara Period (from AD 710).
The smallest and the most tranquil of the Oki Islands, as the closest island to the mainland, Chibu Village was a crucial port to travelers to the Oki Islands in the past. This island boasts the spectacular Sekiheki (Red Cliff), which features volcanic strata among the oldest in Japan, and from the a 325m tall Mt. Akahage you can experience sweeping views of the Shimane Peninsula, the Dōzen Islands and Dōgo Island.
The largest of the Oki Islands, Dōgo (Okinoshima Town) is composed of five distinct regions: Saigō, Tsuma, Goka, and Nakamura. With a circumference of 100km, a journey around this island takes around two hours by car, and features many magnificent sheer cliffs that were carved by the rough waves of the Sea of Japan. Dōgo is rich in nature and has many unique plant and animal species.