Advice for Visitors to the Islands
While traveling in general can be stressful, time spent on the islands should be relaxing and rejuvenating. With some planning and foresight, visitors can avoid some of the pitfalls of traveling to Japan’s remote islands and have a magnificent, memorable trip. With that said, please keep the following points in mind.
There are no currency exchange counters on the islands. Visitors should bring enough Japanese yen in cash to cover expenses for the duration of their stay. More and more vendors on the islands are accepting credit cards as well as digital payment methods such as PayPay, Rakuten Pay, etc., but it is best to come with cash to cover hotels, boat fare, and dining out.
High speed boats and occasionally ferries can be canceled due to inclement weather. For reference, high speed boats and even ferries are usually canceled once waves reach at least 3 meters. Please check the forecast and the wave height before traveling.
Japan Meteorological Agency’s Weather Warnings/Advisories
If hiking solo, please be aware that the forests are inhabited with wildlife, including deer and wild boar. Please use extreme caution, and by all means, do not approach or provoke any wild animals.
While the beaches are one of the most popular spots on the islands, please be aware that jellyfish will start to emerge at some swimming locations around mid-August. While locals generally avoid going to all beaches, including Hamaguri Beach, by this time, some locations such as Funasaki Beach might be safer. Please swim at your own risk.
In addition to jellyfish, typhoons are also likely to crop up during August. Typhoon season generally begins around late July lasts through October, which is when travel is most likely to be impacted. Again, please check the weather and status of boat operations prior to traveling. Travelers who find themselves on the islands during a typhoon should avoid rivers or areas adjacent to mountains, as these may be at risk for flooding and landslides. Don’t be surprised to find supermarkets cleaned out of bread and other supplies days before a typhoon is scheduled to arrive.
Be sure to book hotels or rental cars well in advance for visits planned during holiday periods, such as Golden Week (end of April to early May) and Obon (mid-August). Availability is limited during these periods when demand is at its peak.
Japan experiences all four seasons; visitors should be prepared for cold winters and hot, humid summers. That being said, island weather tends to be milder than that of mainland Japan. It is wise to bring lightweight, airy clothing in the summer and layers in the winter. During the rainy season (June to mid-July), rain consistently falls almost every day, which is followed by heat and humidity. Be sure to bring rain equipment and dress accordingly for visits taking place during this time.
Another point to take note of are Japan’s fashion conventions. Even in the summer, people generally cover up—to avoid sun exposure for one thing—but also because people dress more modestly overall. Women generally do not wear clothing that exposes the shoulder or chest areas, although shorts and skirts are fine. It is even common to find locals wearing rash guards when swimming at the beach. Tattoos are becoming more widely accepted, but locals do not usually show them if they have them. Of course there is no expectation for tourists to conform to local fashion convention, however tourists may feel more comfortable wearing clothing that is less revealing and closer to what the locals wear.
As a group of remote islands in rural Japan, Shinkamigoto has a limited selection of stores with limited hours. They should be sufficient to cover basic needs, but please consider bringing any specialty items. The following are the primary stores in town and their business hours.
Poplar (Arikawa) - 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Poplar (Urakuwa) - 24 hours
Drug stores (OTC only):
Drug Store Mori (Arikawa) - 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Matsumoto Kiyoshi (Urakuwa) - 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Ellena (Arikawa) - 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Kamity (Urakuwa) - 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
A-COOP (Urakuwa) - 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Ellena (Aokata) - 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Nice Day (Narao) - 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
A-COOP (Wakamatsu) - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Terada (Arikawa) - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Mon - Sat); 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Sun)
Seria (Urakawa, inside Kamity) - 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Can☆Do (Aokata, inside Osada) - 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Home improvement/department stores:
First floor - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Mon - Sat); 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Sun)
Second floor - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Big Hirai (Urakuwa) - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Osada (Aokata) - 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
For more information about Shinkamigoto, please visit the town's official tourism website.