Japan Travel Guides: Amanbow, Oki Islands, Shimane Prefecture
Exploring under the sea on the Amanbow, あまんぼう
The Oki Islands, a group of islands, four of which are inhabited, are known for their wonderful coastal scenery and landscapes, but the crystal clear waters surrounding them are also famous for their rich underwater environment.
Located in the Japan Sea off the coast of Shimane Prefecture, the Okis, part of the Daisen-Oki National Park and since 2014 a registered UNESCO Global Geopark, have long been a mecca for scuba divers and snorkelers as well as for fishermen.
If you don't have the opportunity to do some scuba diving, or if the season is not good for snorkeling, there is actually another way to explore the world beneath the waves. Amanbow is an undersea viewing boat operating out of Ama, the main town and port of Nakanoshima Island.
The 50 minute cruise first heads out into the channel between Nakanoshima and Nishinoshima islands, with great views of both as well as some of the other smaller uninhabited islands.
You are likely to catch a view of the car ferries or the high speed ferry as you head towards Saburoiwa, which looks first like a single, small island rising vertically from the sea, but as you get closer you see it is three separate spires of rock, hence the name "saburoiwa" which means three brothers, each crowned with greenery and miniature trees.
The boat pulls up right next to the rocks and then you are invited below deck. I was expecting some small viewing apertures in the bottom of the hull, or maybe small round portholes to look out of, so I was really surprised to find the hull made of huge picture windows with a central seating area.
Looking out, you find yourself in what can only be described as an underwater forest. Tall, slender seaweed, seemingly defying gravity, rise all around you, bending to the current. I don't know the name of the dominant seaweed but I'm pretty sure there was some of it on my dinner plate last night.
Every now and then the boat moves forward a little to change the view. Sometimes the sea floor come into view. It really is quite a surreal scene. Fishes start to appear, first some shoals of small ones darting to and fro, and then larger ones come swimming right up to the glass.
Up on deck the crew members are sprinkling food over the side to attract them. One of the fish is of the species that I also had eaten while here on the Okis. After about twenty minutes we are called back up on deck and the engines fire up and head back to port.
Amanbow Cruise Details
The cruise operates from April 1st until October 31st, weather permitting, with 4 or 5 cruises a day.
The cost is 2,000 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for kids.
There is also a night cruise for star viewing and exploring the strange world of underwater bioluminescence.
Timetable details: nkk-oki.com/english/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ama-Nakanoshima.pdf
Tel: 0851 42 0101
Getting Between the Oki Islands
A fairly frequent and fast ferry service connects the three islands of Dozen, but between Dozen and Dogo you need to use the car ferry or fast ferry.
Read more about access to the Oki Islands and getting around the islands.
Useful Oki Island Resources
- Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark
- Oki Islands Events Calendar
- Oki Islands Nishinoshima
- Oki Kisen Ferries