Things to do on Rainy Days

Dear prospective Ogasawara visitors,

 

As you might know, Ogasawara is a subtropical climate, subject to windy typhoons just as often as it is blessed by gorgeous sunny days. This blog post will give you a range of ideas on what to do on a rainy day so you can make the most of your visit to the islands.


 

 

Yoga

Pelan Village offers yoga classes a few times a week- it is a lovely way to relax and stretch while listening to the gentle pitter-patter of rain coming down outside. Classes on are a donation basis, so you don’t have to stretch your pocketbook by much. If you’d rather, you could always put on a yoga Youtube video and stretch out in your own room.

Snorkel

If it happens that the skies decide to rain cats and dogs the day before your boat departs for Tokyo and you are despairing that you haven’t yet snorkeled, never fear. Just remember that you’re going to be dripping wet snorkeling in sun or rain, and put on some flippers and a snorkel! The seas are full of vibrant fish and thriving coral around these parts. If you are lucky, you might even spot a manta ray or some small reef sharks visiting the reefs to nap amongst the corals (never fear, there has never been a shark attack on the island). You can either rent snorkeling gear from Pelan, various dive shops (Surf Shop Rao, for example, although it is on the other side of the island, far fro town)  along the main road in town, or buy your own (it would probably cost you $25 or so to buy a mask- the flippers are far more expensive but not necessary). Do make sure to respect the coral and not to rest your feet or flippers against the coral- a mere finger’s brush could really hurt the ecosystem.

You might want a life jacket but I never use one since I like to dive down for a closer look at giant clams, sea stars, and abandoned shells on the ocean floor. You might see an octopus scuttling along the sand.

Kominato has some nice snorkeling spots off to the right, but my personal favorite is Ogiura beach- walk all the way to the right, set your things inside the fox-hole carved into the cliff (a relic leftover from WWII when the US and Japan were duking it out on the island) and head straight towards the surf- if you veer around the cliff on your rightmost side you can swim to a small beach where there is a little hammock swing.

Karaoke

You can sing to your heart’s content at either Hibis or Radford. Getting drunk while singing is a prerequisite (not really) and an A+ way to befriend the locals, provided you’ve invited them along. The draft beer on the island is a little pricey- probably about $9-$10 a pop, but pretty tasty. Oh, and, its really hilarious when the Japanese try to sing American lyrics- they sing in a kind of soft and lispy way and it is bound to make you smile from ear to ear.

Restaurant or pub-hop

I highly recommend visiting Green Pepe for a sizzling cast-iron pan full of delectable tidbits. Green Pepe has been around for 30 years and is owned by an incredibly talented artist who studied in Paris (and is a great Bosch replica artist) and his wife. The walls are covered with paintings and knickknacks from all over the world, ranging from prints autographed by John Lennon himself, to Parisian statuettes, to old fashioned telephones and clocks. It is located in town on the road behind the main street facing away from the beach front towards the mountains. There are tables and a long bar so you can either have a dinner party or drink yourself silly (or both?)

Rainy-day photography

If you are not adverse to rain, then I highly recommend taking a rainy day hike to the Okamiyama Shrine up on the mountaintop (be careful to note the steep stairs, typical entrances to Japanese shrines- there are hundreds of them and you are likely to quickly run out of breath). There, you can ogle the architecture and pay your respects to the spirits and make a wish. If you’re more inclined to enjoy the rain in a more natural environment, then take a 15 minute bus from town to the mountainside, where you can stop off at Kominato to take a hike to Buta Beach- its about an hour and a half hike and you’ll enjoy an incredible view. If you bring along a magnifying glass or viewfinder, you can really enjoy all the incredible and miniscule plant and animal life- Ogasawara is home to dozens of endemic species of ferns and they range from extremely hairy to baby-butt-smooth. Bring along a digital camera and document your adventure!

Visit the aquarium

This is a great thing to do with the kids. There is an aquarium near the Fukushi community center, close to the boat loading dock (a 5 minute walk from town, towards the mountains). There is a fun shallow pond area in front where kids can literally brush fish teeth with long poles (the fish will swim up and expose their bellies for a good tummy rub too) and inside the aquarium, you’ll find a rotating display of tiny fish, a turtle or two, and a couple dozen tanks full of larger fish ranging from parrotfish, angelfish, hairy crabs, etc. There are also a couple display cases full of taxidermied seabirds and crustaceans.

Take a boat to Hahajima

I think the Hahajimamaru boatride costs around $40 and takes 5-7 hours. This tiny island is similar in size to Chichijima but unlike Chichijima (which is home to 2,000 people), only has 400-500 residents. So this is a great place to chill out and really appreciate nature. Although I’ve never been, people say it is even more beautiful that Chichijima. You can read about one foreigner’s experience on Hahajima here.

 

 

 

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Pelan Village is host to three different log cabins, all hand-built by the Shimizu Family. Guests staying with Pelan have access to a shared kitchen and lounge, large wooden deck and hammock, and shared shower, bathroom, and toilet facilities.

Click on each subsection to read more about each cabin. Each cabin is the same price.

 

Introducing You to the Pelan Layout

Dear Visitors,

This is Kaori Freda, WWOOFer and staff member, chiming in to introduce you to the Pelan Village Layout. Pelan is basically a small intricate complex of wooden log cabins, all of which have been built by Ryo and Chika Shimizu, along with a host of volunteers over the years. There are a handful of houses nearby that the Shimizus have also constructed, in which friendly neighbors live.

I’ll tour you around from the bath, to wooden walkways, to the kitchen house and the place where all the firewood is stock-piled. If you see a photo you like, just click on the bubble to expand it and read a short blurb.

If you are interested in learning more about Pelan Village, feel free to visit my personal blog at https://rainagainblog.wordpress.com/tag/pelan-village/.

Pelan Village offers an exceptional chance to live in the jungle of Chichijima in the Ogasawara Islands.

Our rooms are located in hand-built log cabins, complete with a solar-powered shower, communal kitchen, and eco-friendly composting toilets. Upon your arrival, we celebrate with a communal dinner and wave you off at the harbor when you depart on the Ogasawara-maru boat. While guests are expected to prepare their own breakfast and lunch, dinner is often a fun way to get to know other international guests over a shared meal.

You can complement your stay with yoga lessons, relaxing massage sessions, or adventurous kayak tours.

There are multiple gorgeous beaches just a bus ride away. Ogiura Beach, which is great for snorkeling or swimming, is just a 10 minute walk down the hill. There are coffees shops and a family-owned bar and restaurant down the way.

Please contact us for a quote, as prices vary from ¥3500 to¥5000/night. Prices include ferry-pickup and dropoff.

Pelan Village hopes you will join us as you explore this incredible tropical paradise.

FAQ

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Question: How far away is Pelan Village from the bus stop? How long does the bus take to get to town?
Answer: Walking distance from Pelan Village to the bus stop is 5 minutes. Upon arrival we can give you directions. The bus only runs once an hour, so please be sure to check the timetable posted on the fridge in the shared kitchen house. It takes the bus 15 minutes to reach town. There are two grocery stores, many restaurants (which are open at lunch and dinner times), cafes, and various places where you can book whale-watching, fishing, diving, and hiking tours.

 

Question: How far away are the beaches? Do you rent out snorkeling and kayaking equipment?

Answer: Ogiura Beach is a 20 minute walk down the hill (or a 5 minute bus ride). Kominato Beach is a 6 minute bus ride, a 30 minute bicycle ride, a 10 minute motorbike ride, and an hour by foot. From Kominato, you can take the Heart Rock hiking tour (you need to hire a guide from a different business for this), or visit an array of hiking trails and beaches. Kopepe beach is quite close to Pelan Village, about 20 minutes by foot give or take (and even less by bus). Guests staying at Pelan Village can borrow snorkel and fin equipment free of charge while kayak tour guests need to make a ¥500 contribution. There are many bright tropical fish and thriving coral in the nearby beaches. There has never been a shark attack on Ogasawara and the sharks that do visit are small reef sharks who seek the help of small reef fish to clean away parasites that cling to the sharks.

 

Question: Can I buy local produce in town? What sort of souvenirs might I expect to bring back from my trip?

Answer: There is a shop that exclusively sells island made produce: fruits, jams, veggies. Mostly, produce is shipped from the mainland. Pelan Village tends a small farm and we can share some vegetables, given that they are in season. We do not offer permaculture courses but guests are more than welcome to pitch in a hand farming and gardening. Pelan Village also sells deliciously crunchy bread baked over a fire in a Dutch oven. Popular souvenirs range from passionfruit jam to Ogasawara salt, coffee beans, island glassware, and handmade leis.

 

Question: Are the accommodation prices listed on a per person basis or per room? Should I expect hammocks, beds, or futons?

Answer: The rooms are cabin-style. There are three cabins: one fits four guests, and the remaining two cabins fit two apiece. The accommodation prices are on a per person basis, although the price is halved for children. There are electricity ports in each room, although you should bring a Japanese adapter for American or European devices. There are many mosquitos, so make sure to keep your door closed. We supply burning sage to ward the mosquitos away, although we are able to supply mosquito nets. Visitors to Ogasawara do not need to worry about contracting malaria or dengue fever.

 

Question: Is it possible to see whales or dolphins on the island? Are there a lot of coral to see and fish to snorkel alongside?

Answer: Seeing whales or dolphins is always a chance encounter. The fall and winter are best for whale-watching, and there are many boats on the island that will take guests to see ocean life. However, these boats are disruptive and their fuel pollute the seabeds, so we recommend traveling on a sea kayak with a Pelan Village tour. Each daylong tour costs between ¥9000-¥10000 and includes lunch, tea, snorkeling stops, sometimes a brief hike, and historical facts.

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Pelan Pelan Sea Kayak Club

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The Ogasawara Archipelago is home to more than 30 tropical and subtropical islands, most of which are uninhabited. With Pelan Pelan Sea Kayaking Club, you can visit these uninhabited islands and explore nature at its wildest.

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There are many endemic species both on land and in the sea. With Pelan, you can explore the South Island called Anijima, a mysterious island made of limestone. Countless snails became semi-fossils over hundreds of thousands of year, slowly building up to create hills and valleys and finally, the island that we call Anijima. It is covered with rare dry shrubs, and full of colorful fish and thriving coral ecosystems.

Join Pelan Pelan Sea Kayaking Club to adventure in nature. Your sea kayak instructor, Ryo, has been leading kayak tours for more than two decades, alongside cavorting dolphins and bright-eyed sea turtles.

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