On July 22, 2009, the longest total eclipse of the 21st century will pass over Asia. The eclipse will have its peak duration over southern Japan, and will be visible from the Tokara Islands, Yakushima and Amami Oshima. Partial eclipses will be visible throughout the country.

From the Tokara Islands

If the weather cooperates, the Tokara Islands will be the best place to view the awe inspiring mid-day twilight and solar corona of the total eclipse, as the islands are located directly along the line of maximum eclipse duration. Full obscuration will last from 5 min 40 sec to 6 min 20 sec, starting from around 11:00 am.

The Tokara Islands consist of about a dozen small islands, half of which are populated, and are home to approximately 650 people. A ferry connects the islands to Kagoshima City twice per week. Lodgings, restaurants and other tourist facilities are extremely limited on the islands.

Officials on the islands are expecting a considerable influx of tourists, and have partnered with Kinki Nippon Tourist (KNT), Japan's second largest travel agency, to handle the logistics. All travel to the islands during the eclipse will be done through KNT. Because of the limited facilities on the islands, only a limited number of applicants will be able to join their tours.

KNT is offering an island stay tour and a cruise tour. The island stay tour involves staying on one of the islands for four to seven days and costs 350,000 yen. The cruise tour is a three day cruise on a luxurious ship, but the actual eclipse viewing will take place on one of the islands. It costs between 400,000 and 1,400,000 yen.

Cruise ship tours are also offered by a few other companies during the eclipse, but these tours will not be landing on the Tokara Islands.

From Yakushima and Amami Oshima Islands

For those, who will not be able to go to the Tokara Islands, the islands of Yakushima and Amami Oshima are possible alternatives. The total eclipse will last about four minutes at the southern end of Yakushima and about three minutes at the northern end of Amami Oshima. Note that only a partial eclipse will be visible from the southern end of Amami Oshima.

Access information to Yakushima Island can be found here.

Amami Oshima can be reached by either plane or ferry. JAL operates five flights a day from Kagoshima and one flight a day each from Osaka, Tokyo and Naha. Ferries travel to Amami Oshima from Kagoshima once or twice a day, Naha once a day, and less frequently from Tokyo and Osaka. See our ferry page for more details.

From other places in Japan

For those unable to reach the regions of total eclipse, partial eclipses will be visible throughout the rest of Japan. The period of partial eclipse will last two to three hours, with effects becoming more dramatic as the sun becomes more obscured. In Japan's various cities different peak obscurations will occur at different times:


Appropriate caution must be exercised when observing the partial eclipse. Serious damage can be done to the eye if the sun is observed directly or through sun glasses, even when no pain is felt. Instead, special sun filters must be used. The eclipse can be viewed with the naked human eye only during total eclipse.