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Tokunoshima

Tokunoshima (V) is a subtropical island south of Amami Oshima that belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture and is part of the Satsunan island chain which runs between Kyushu and Okinawa Island. Although less touristically developed, its climate, beaches and vegetation make Tokunoshima similar to the Okinawan islands. The island has three main town centers: Amagi in the west where the airport is located, Tokunoshima in the east and Isen in the south.

Tourists visit Tokunoshima to experience its relatively uncrowded beaches, several of which are part of Amamigunto National Park. As with Okinawa, the best weather for beach activities is usually experienced from late June to October. In addition to its beaches, the island is known for its style of bullfighting or "bull sumo", and the annual Tokunoshima Triathlon which is held each June.

Like other islands in the region, historically Tokunoshima was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In 1624 it was made part of the Satsuma Domain which became present day Kagoshima Prefecture. For two months in 1862 the legendary samurai Saigo Takamori was exiled to Tokunoshima before being transferred to Okinoerabu Island further south. After World War II Tokunoshima was occupied by the United States until its return to Japan in 1953.

Below is a list of some of the island's primary attractions:

Beaches and Snorkeling

Yonama Beach

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: parking lot, restrooms, changing rooms, showers, BBQ pits

Aze Prince Beach

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: small parking lot and restrooms

Kinenhama Seaside Park

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: parking lot, restrooms, changing rooms

Other Attractions

Mushiroze Park

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: parking lot

Kanamizaki Sotetsu Palm Tree Tunnel

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: parking lot and restrooms

Nakusamikan Bullfighting Arena

Hours: 9:00 to 16:30
Closed: Mondays
Admission: 200 yen (small museum)
Facilities: parking lot, restrooms

Seta Seaside Park

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: parking lot, restrooms, changing rooms

Yamato Memorial Monument

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: car park, restrooms, cafe

Innojofuta Park

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
Facilities: car park, restrooms

Getting there and around

How to get to Tokunoshima

By air

JAL operate a few flights per day between Tokunoshima Airport and Kagoshima from where there are connecting flights to Tokyo and other major airports in Japan. The flight between Tokunoshima and Kagoshima take about 70 minutes, and the regular one way fare is around 31,000 yen, however discount tickets are usually available for around 19,000 yen.

There are also a few flights per day between Tokunoshima Airport and the neighboring islands of Amami Oshima and Okinoerabu. The flight to Amami Oshima take 35 minutes, and the regular one way fare is around 15,000 yen, however discount tickets are usually available for around 10,000 yen.

By ferry

Tokunoshima has two ports: Kametoku Port on the east side and Hetono Port on the west side of the island:

Kametoku Port is used by the daily ferries along the route that connects Kagoshima with Amami-Oshima and Naha in Okinawa. The one way ride from Kagoshima to Tokunoshima takes 15 hours and costs around 12,000 yen, while the one way ride from Naha takes 9.5 hours and costs around 7,000 yen. With a vehicle, the prices increase 5-6 fold depending on the vehicle's size. The ferries are operated by Marix and A Line.

Hetono Port is used by ferries on the Kagoshima-Okinoerabu route which stop at a few additional ports around Amami Oshima and does not go all the way to Okinawa. Ferries are operated by A Line and operate roughly once every two or three days.

How to get around Tokunoshima

Public transportation on Tokunoshima is infrequent. As a result, a rental car makes it much easier to get around the island. A small number of car rental outlets are found at the airport and near Kametoku Port.

There are two main bus lines on Tokunoshima: one line, the Airport Line, connects the airport with Tokunoshima's town center on the east coast once every 1-2 hours, while the other connects central Tokunoshima's town center via Isen Town along the island's southern coast with Amagi's town center once every 3-4 hours. There are also a few minor bus lines, but they operate even less frequently. Fares depend on the distance traveled and range from 120 yen to 1230 yen.