An Island in the (Winter) Sun: Oshima

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The DiveZone Tokyo crew embarked on a weekend adventure to the closest Izu island from Tokyo, Oshima (“big island”).

Map at the port

It was Friday & first I had to work, so I stored my dive bags in a locker at the local train station for 700 JPY for the day.

Four separate trains to Takeshiba port.  Lots of trying to avoid knocking over fragile older people on the trains as I dragged along my bulky bags.

We filled up our food bellies & beer bellies before boarding.

The ferry terminal was full of people en route to various island destinations.

Takeshiba ferry terminal

We lined up for our 10:00pm departure.  We appeared to be the only passengers with dive bags.  After all, it’s winter.

We waved mata ne またね (“see you later”) to Tokyo from the deck.

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Then we descended to our luxurious sleeping quarters ;-).  100 JPY per blanket is sure worth it for a makeshift bed.  I had an eye mask, Bose noise cancelling headphones, & Dramamine, so I was set.

Our dive shop & hotel, Palm Beach, left a white van with keys inside parked at the port for our 5:00am arrival.  Real island-style.

We drove to the shop & got ourselves oriented.  A barebones operation, but at least there were scuba tanks & lead weights, which were all that we needed.  Two divers planned to dive sidemount, thus needed aluminum 80 liter tanks, so we waited awhile for the owner to arrive so that they could request them.

Apparently Yosuke & Yu were married underwater last month.

Omedetou gozaimasu おめでとうございます

It was only a block to the beach (Nohama).  First aid kit with small oxygen bottle inside, toilet facilities, tsunami warning signs, & a sign pointing to an outdoor onsen (hot spring) somewhere on the island.

& the famous Buddy’s Bell of Oshima.

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Serene Japan winter beach scenes with the obligatory Mount Fuji view.

The shore dive sites have flagpoles for divers to raise the flags while they’re diving.  A questionable practice if there are multiple groups in the water (maybe better to count parked cars).

Once our gear & tanks were ready, our first dive was at Nohama, home of the feature “fish tv”, a fish-filled rock arch that appears as if you’re peering into an aquarium tank in a tv screen (though we were unlucky this time, & the arch was empty).

Steps down to Nohama

Post-dive, we checked into the hotel next door.  It was like the inside of a dollhouse: antique, perfectly pink, & frilly.

They fed us well, since they know that divers get hungry staring at fish all day.

We had the van for the weekend.  The island was our oyster, so we had free reign to dive any beach we wanted.

Akinohama is the most popular dive site, & the only place we encountered fellow cold water divers (there was even an inflatable hot tub to warm up!).  Entry is a slightly exhilarating giant stride drop into the water.  Exit is up metal ladders.  There are various routes to follow, but for course C (hands down the best), it’s a surface swim for a few minutes, then soft coral & fish galore at a depth of 25+ meters (75+ feet) or so.  We dove Akinohama thrice.

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Watashi わたし (me). Photo credit: Oleg D.

Keikai beach was full of lava rocks, which provided us with a nice underwater valley to swim through.  We saw a sea turtle!

We did 3 dives on day 1, & 2 dives on day 2, during our underwater weekend getaway on an island off of Tokyo in the Philippine Sea.

At the port, there were edible turbin snails for sale, & free seafood soup.  Oishii おいしい.

The farewell party was standing by to wish us sayonara さよなら as we boarded the Jetfoil high speed ferry back to Tokyo.

Sayonara team

Sayonara team waving goodbye

Sunday sunset to take us home.

Kanpai かんぱい (cheers) to good diving & as always, to surviving.  Chicago-style deep dish pizza afterwards back in Tokyo at DevilCraft Hamamatsucho.

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Konnichiwa こんにちは from Misako-san in Odawara!

Misako waving from Odawara

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