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Suwanose Island, south of Kagoshima 2007/5/17 13:40
Has anyone among us been to Suwanose Island (which I think may also be known as Yakejima), south of Kagoshima?

To clarify: I believe that is YaKE, not YaKUshima.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience of this island?
by Ian  

Vulcanologist? 2007/5/20 14:13
This is a small island south of Yakushima which is almost entirely an active volcano. It used to be a lot more active but since the eruption of Unzen in 1990, the whole line from Unzen to Sakurajima to Sawanose has calmed a bit.

There are a few minshuku on the island in Kiriishi, the port village. The population of the island is between 50-70, most of who are fishermen as the area has great fishing with the mixing of the waters between the Pacific and East China Sea. It is part of a larger group of islands, the Tokara, which is made up of about 10 very small islands, of which only a few are inhabited.

Ferries from Kagoshima leave only a couple of times a week to the Tokara (Also called the Toshima Islands).

The ferry company that heads to the islands is the Toshima Line, 099-222-2101. There used to be a ferry from Miyanoura on Yakushima to Kuchinoerabu, but I don't know if it's still running. It's been over 20 years since I've been down there. They seem to be popular now for sea kayaking.
by Anaguma rate this post as useful

Thanks 2007/5/20 14:21
Good information.

Are you based in Kagoshima, or elsewhere in the area?

I have a growing traveller's interest in the ryukus and surrounding archipelagoes. My interest in Suwanose stems from reading about a multinational commune based there in the early 70s.

If you don't mind my asking, were you involved?
by Ian rate this post as useful

The commune is new to me 2007/5/22 01:38
I was just touristing through at the time and this is the first I've heard of the commune. Thanks for the update! Where did you read about it? I was attending school in Tokyo at the time and took ferries and rode a motorcycle through the Ryukyus during one of the breaks.
by Anaguma rate this post as useful

That sounds like heaven! 2007/5/22 02:42
I used to study at university in Kansai (1980s), and did a lot of similar touring in Honshu and Shikoku. Excellent memories! Japan is still really good for that kind of travel if you have time.

The commune included the American poet Gary Snyder and the Japanese 'free spirit' Sakaki Nanao. Biographical info about them often mentions the island and all the decriptions in 70s literature make it sound utopian.

There was similar hippie activity in Nagano. But on Suwanose it sort of fades away after around the mid-70s. The remoteness must have been a factor. To say nothing about the volcano!

I am planning (my first) travels in the Ryukyus late in the year or perhaps next year. But I am finding that designing a route that can take me to several islands between Kagoshima and Taiwan is difficult. Most ferries bypass most islands.

And, these years, unlimited slow travel is not a possibility for me. (Parenthood, etc)
by Ian rate this post as useful

Is it possible to stay in Suwanose 2008/3/24 06:49

I'm doing a thesis about volcanism in Japan, and I'm coming to Japan for a field trip concerning about the subject.

I would like to go to this Suwanose island if its possible. I read it's not populated anymore, so I wonder if it's possible to go there and get some samples and photos? Any ferries going there, and if so how many times a week do they go?

by Markus rate this post as useful

... 2008/3/24 11:41
There're ferries from Kagoshima to Suwanose island 3 times a week. But you need to stay overnight as the return ferry does not leave until the following morning.

Ferry Toshima (099-219-1191)

As for accomodation on the island, there're 3 family-run lodges (minshiku) at the south edge of the island.
Minshiku Ontake (09912-2-2590)
Minshuku Yamaki(09912-2-2316)
Hamaharaso (09912-2-2317)

Also, the area within 2 km from the crater (red-dotted circle on the leaflet) is cordoned off.

Suwanose Island Leaflet (Japanese only)

To be honest, I think it is better to work with Japanese researchers or someone who understand Japanese as you cannot expect local people (including lodge-owners)to speak English.

Kagoshima University
by JLady rate this post as useful

Yes there was a commune in 1970 2009/1/8 01:19
I just happened to find this site. Yes there was a commune in Suwanose in the 1970s. I was visiting at that time with my brother and sister-in-law and we went over to Suwanose and stayed for 1 month in the commune. This was in 1972. The huts were made of bamboo and they did gardening and fishing for food. It was composed of all adults who spoke Japanese and a very little bit of English. My brother knew some Japanese. It was one of the best times of my life.

If you want more information, email me.
by Carolyn rate this post as useful

Interesting 2009/1/10 13:31
Thank you for the recollection, and sorry to be a little slow to notice.

I am curious to know more, and to actually go there one of these days. At the moment life (parenthood, specifically) has me a little tied up, but yes, I am interested to ask further.

How may I email you?
by Ian (guest) rate this post as useful

The late Sakaki Nanao 2009/1/15 12:53
To Carolyn, and anyone else with interest

I have just learned - belatedly - that Sakaki Nanao, one of the pioneers of the Suwanose commune, has passed away in his 80s.

I knew him a little, and the news makes me sad. But thinking of him after a long time, I am also inspired. There is an informative Wikipedia page on him.
by Ian (guest) rate this post as useful

suwanose commune 2009/4/3 09:49
I visited the island in 1970 and stayed at the commune, where we were made very welcome. It was an extraordinary time. Soon after we left the island, it was hit by a strong typhoon. The small boat that ferried us there from Kagoshima only ran once a week.

by charlotte (guest) rate this post as useful

volcano climb? 2009/5/19 13:45
I am going to Suwanosejima in July to see and photograph both the eclipse and volcano. Does anyone know how long it takes to hike to the summit?
by mike (guest) rate this post as useful

1/2 day 2009/7/21 13:22
1/2 day would be more than enough to the summit and back.

Was there in maybe 1997.

Stayed with a friend's family.

Sad to hear about Nanao.
by Bob (guest) rate this post as useful

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