Bikepaking in Izu Oshima: Cliffs and Volcanoes

Oshima is a charming island in the Tokyo prefecture. Located between Izu and Boso, it can be reached in less than two hours via jetfoil from the Takeshiba Ferry Terminal. The island has a coastline of 52 km and a maximum elevation of 764 mt. It is possible to cycle around it in a few hours, but I recommend spending a night there to enjoy sightseeing. 

Day 1

Moving time: 2:46:54 – Distance: 39.8km – Climbing: 951m

I visited Oshima in April 2019 with a friend who was traveling in Japan from Europe. During the first day of the trip, we followed the east coast from north to south. Starting in Okata, we climbed Mount Mihara and headed to Habu city. The weather, as you can see from the photos below, was unforgiving.

The volcanic landscape, hidden by a dense fog, was eerily beautiful. Unfortunately, the fog meant that we could not appreciate the view of Mt. Fuji from the top of Mt. Mihara. Google it to see what we missed!

The climb to Mt. Mihara, around 600mt of elevation, has a gentle gradient and well-paved roads. On the top of the mountain there is a hotel with onsen and convenience store. From there, several trekking trails extend to the summit of the volcano and the black desert of Mihara.

Mt. Mihara is an active volcano with major eruptions occurring in cycles of 100–150 years. Back in 1923, Oshima island marked the epicenter of the Great Kantō earthquake, which brought havoc on Tokyo and caused more than a hundred thousand deaths. The last significant eruption of Mt. Mihara happened in 1986, when all the inhabitants of Oshima were safely evacuated. Since an eruption can happen at any time, it is advised to keep note of where to find emergency shelters and evacuation areas.

After descending Mt. Mihara we headed south along the east coast, which is inhabited and void of traffic. Tourist spots include the Ura-Sabaku desert and the Fudeshima Rock. In Habu city we stayed in a wonderful traditional guesthouse along the coast. The owner kindly helped us to arrange dinner and offered two large homemade riceballs for the next day’s breakfast. 

Day 2

Moving time: 1:06:39 – Distance: 21.8km – Climbing: 336m

During the second day of our trip we rode north to Okata city, where we had a ferry waiting for us. The west side of the island was more densely populated and less rugged. The most scenic spot on the route was the Semba Volcanic Cliff – a 700mt long cliff that exposes volcanic sediments accumulated over the 15,000 years.

On the northern tip of Oshima there were more tourist attractions that we, unfortunately, had no time to visit. Altogether, Oshima is a beautiful island rich in history and unique landscapes. Only a few hours away from Tokyo, it makes for the perfect getaway. Cyclists will particularly enjoy the quiet coastal roads and gentle climb to Mt. Mihara.

Useful links:
Oshima Navi:
Ferry to Oshima: