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Japan is a long archipelago made up of about 7000 islands, with Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu making up the four main big islands where most of the major cities can be found. The smaller islands tend to be off the beaten track and offer rustic charm, while some islands in the south are popular beach getaways. Most of the smaller islands are only accessible by plane or ferry. Below is a selection of some of the more popular islands for sightseeing:

Around Tokyo

Many travelers are not aware that there are islands under the administration of Tokyo and the nearby coastal prefectures in the Greater Tokyo area. These smaller islands are typically accessible by ferry and are popular island getaways among the locals for their beaches, swimming and snorkeling facilities.

Ogasawara Islands

Enoshima

Eastern Japan

The islands of eastern Japan, from Tokyo to Hokkaido, are more known for their hiking and scenic views rather than for their beaches.

Rishiri and Rebun

Tashiro Island

Sado Island

Seto Inland Sea

There are some 3000 islands in the Seto Inland Sea which lies between the Japanese main islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. A number of islands in the eastern Seto Inland Sea serve as venues for the Setouchi Art Triennale, a contemporary art festival held every three years. These "art islands" include Honjima, Awashima, Takamijima and Ibukijima in addition to the islands listed below.

Another attraction in the Seto Inland Sea is the Shimanami Kaido, a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Honshu with Shikoku and passes over six small islands. Visitors can choose to travel over land or water to visit the different islands. On the western side of the Seto Inland Sea, one of the more popular islands is Itsukushima, commonly referred to as Miyajima.

Naoshima

Shimanami Kaido

Around Kyushu

Many more islands and island groups are located around Japan's westernmost main island, Kyushu.

Gunkanjima

Aoshima

Sakurajima

Yakushima

Okinawa

Okinawa Prefecture is Japan's southernmost prefecture with subtropical climate, consisting of a few dozen small islands that can be divided into three major island groups: the Okinawa Islands, the Miyako Islands and the Yaeyama Islands. The seas surrounding Okinawa's islands feature coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Consequently, beaches and marine sports like snorkeling and scuba diving are among Okinawa's top attractions.

Kume Island

Iriomote Island