A summary of part 1:
07:00. Flight from Tokyo (Haneda) to Hachijo-jima, then a tight connection – helicopter flight to Aogashima, a day there trekking and climbing about, and looking at and taking pictures of every nook and cranny. Beautiful!
The next morning I had a vague sense of déjà-vu: waking up at the impossible hour of 07:30, but this time ‘Boy Scout style’, accompanied by a lively announcer’s voice from speakers all over the hotel: peem paam poom puum ohayo gozaimasu (that’s ‘good morning ‘in Japanese). Followed by a lot more Japanese chatter, of which I only picked out ‘arigato’ and ‘kudasai’. Then rise and shine, get up from the straw mattresses, breakfast – and back to the helipad.
Just to recap: there’s only one helicopter flight a day – if the weather’s good. If it’s bad, no helicopter flight. The Hachijo-jima–Aogashima flight leaves at 09:15 and arrives at the destination around 09:40 (based on our observations). After landing, a regular helipad bustle: unloading/loading freight from/to the ‘mainland’, boarding new passengers – Aogashima natives and stray tourists – and flying back.
Thus, the return flight dropped us off on Hachijo-jima at some 11:30. Our flight to Haneda was at 17:20, so we had some six hours on our hands. How were we to spend that time? Rent a car and go to the onsen hot springs, of course! At least, that was what some of us thought. Wrong! I looked at the map, saw a track leading to the top of the local volcanic blister, and we all proceeded to climb this local Hachijo-Fuji (apparently, all sacred mountains in Japan are called ‘Fuji’) in accordance with this sudden plan.
A climb 300 meters up (on the vertical scale) along a well-tended paved track took us just 25 minutes (this is my personal best – such climbs typically take me some 40 minutes to an hour). And here we are at the very top!
Not a bad sight at all from up here…
A huge old crater and the ‘blister’ of a new one in the middle. Plus other crazily charming sights all around. This is why I love volcanoes more than I do mountains. On a mountain top, the views and the beauty are only around you. On a volcano top, you have all that, plus the spellbinding view inside the crater.
At Hachijo-Fuji, you can also walk along the entire rim of the caldera, which is what we did, straight away. Excellent. Enchanting. Exquisite.
Next up: lunch in the local village, onsen, and then back.
20. This is a bottle of the local shōchū. It’s a weird, potent… rotgut, which can be drunk only by… the brave or the mad. So, highly recommended. By all means, try it – just to see if you can! The aftertaste, which holds for some 24 HOURS, is particularly blissful :).
While on this mini- trip, I got an idea. There are nine inhabited islands here. Wouldn’t it be great to do a tour of them all! A kind of nine-day fitness tour of the local volcanos! Will have to give it a try in sometime!
The rest of the photos are here.
That’s it for now. Bye everybody!