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Amami Ōshima
Native name: 奄美大島, Amami Ōshima
Nickname: Uushima
Naze port2.JPG
Naze Port on Amami Ōshima
Satsunan Islands.png
Location East China Sea
Coordinates 28°19′35″N 129°22′29″E / 28.32639°N 129.37472°E / 28.32639; 129.37472Coordinates: 28°19′35″N 129°22′29″E / 28.32639°N 129.37472°E / 28.32639; 129.37472
Archipelago Amami Islands
Area 712.39 km2 (275.06 sq mi)
Coastline 461.1 km (286.51 mi)
Highest elevation 694 m (2,277 ft)
Highest point Yuwandake
Prefectures Kagoshima Prefecture
District Ōshima District
Largest settlement Amami (pop. 44,561)
Population 73,000 (as of 2013)
Ethnic groups Japanese

Amami Ōshima (奄美大島?, Okinawan: Uushima (ウーシマ?); Amami: Ushima (ウシマ?)) is one of the Satsunan Islands, and is the largest island within the Amami archipelago between Kyūshū and Okinawa.[1]

The island, 712.35  km2 in area, has a population of approximately 73,000 people. Administratively it is divided into the city of Amami, the towns of Tatsugō, Setouchi, and the villages of Uken and Yamato in Kagoshima Prefecture. Much of the island is within the borders of the Amami Guntō Quasi-National Park.


Amami Ōshima is the seventh largest island in the Japanese archipelago (excluding the disputed Kurile Islands) after the four main islands, Okinawa Island and Sado Island. It is located approximately 380 kilometres (210 nmi) south of the southern tip of Kyūshū and 250 kilometres (130 nmi) north of Okinawa. The island is of volcanic origin, with Mount Yuwanda at 605 metres (1,985 ft) above sea level at its highest peak. The coast of the island is surrounded by a coral reef. It is surrounded by the East China Sea on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east.

The climate of Amami Ōshima is classified as has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with very warm summers and mild winters. The rainy season lasts from May through September. The island is subject to frequent typhoons.


Amami Ōshima is home to several rare or endangered endemic animals, including the Amami rabbit and the Lidth's jay, both of which are now found only in Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima. The Amami rabbit is sometimes called a living fossil because it represents an ancient Asian lineage that has elsewhere disappeared.

The island is also home to the habu, a venomous snake that can be found throughout the Ryūkyū Islands. Mongooses were introduced to kill the habu, but have become another problem, as an increase in the mongoose population has been linked to the decline of the Amami rabbit and other endemic species.[2]

Whale watching to see humpback whales has become a featured attraction in winter in recent years.[3] It is also notable that North Pacific right whale, the most endangered of all whale species, have repeatedly appeared around the island[4][5] (there are five records of three sightings, a capture, and a stranding since 1901) and as of 2014, Amami is the only location in East China Sea where this species has been confirmed in the past 110 and years, and is also one of two locations in the world among with Bonin Islands where constant appearance in winter have been confirmed since in the 20th century. Discovery of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Seto strait made it the first confirmation in the nation. Other species include whales (Bryde's, sperm), smaller whales or dolphins (false killer, spinner, spotted), and so on. Before being wiped out, many large whales such as blue, fin were seasonal migrants.[6]

Historically, the island was the world's northernmost of dugongs' distributions. These sea cows are now facing functional extinct, but there was a record of a single dugong stayed for a short period in Kasari bay in the 2000s.

Amami Oshima is the only place where a nesting of leatherback turtle was seen in Japan.


It is uncertain when Amami Ōshima was first settled. Stone tools indicate settlement in the Japanese Paleolithic period, and other artifacts, including pottery, indicate a constant contact with Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun period Japan.

The island is mentioned in the ancient Japanese chronicle Nihon Shoki in an entry for the year 657 AD. During the Nara period and early Heian period it was a stopping place for envoys from Japan to the court of Tang dynasty China. Mother of pearl was an important export item to Japan. Until 1624, Amami Ōshima was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The island was invaded by samurai from Shimazu clan in 1609 and its incorporation into the official holdings of that domain was recognized by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1624. Shimazu rule was harsh, with the inhabitants of the island reduced to serfdom and forced to raise sugar cane to meet high taxation, which often resulted in famine. Saigo Takamori was exiled to Amami Ōshima in 1859, staying for two years, and his house has been preserved as a memorial museum. After the Meiji Restoration Amami Ōshima was incorporated into Ōsumi Province and later became part of Kagoshima Prefecture. Following World War II, although with the other Amami Islands, it was occupied by the United States until 1953, at which time it reverted to the control of Japan.

Since February 1974, the sea around and some parts of the island, a protected area in about 7.8 acres (3 ha) large national park "Amami Gunto Quasi-National Park".[7] The area also has a large mangrove forest.


The economy of Amami Ōshima is based on agriculture (sugar cane, rice and sweet potatoes), commercial fishing, and the distillation of shōchū. The favorable climate allows for two rice crops a year. Seasonal tourism is also an important part of the economy. The traditional crafts include the production of high quality hand-crafted silk, which has, however, suffered from the abandonment of traditional Japanese clothing and competition from overseas.


The port of Naze, located in the city of Amami is a major regional shipping and ferry hub. Amami Airport, located at the northern end of the island, is connected to Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, Fukuoka and Kagoshima as well as local flights to the other Amami islands.


Main article: Amami language

Two dialects of the Amami language are spoken in Amami Ōshima: the Northern Ōshima dialect and the Southern Ōshima dialect. These dialects are part of the Ryukyuan languages group. According to Ethnologue, as of 2004 there were about 10,000 speakers of the Northern Ōshima dialect and about 1,800 speakers of the Southern Ōshima dialect. These dialects are now spoken mostly by older residents of the island, while most of the younger generations are monolingual in Japanese. The Amami language, including the Ōshima dialects, is classified as endangered by UNESCO.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Teikoku's Complete Atlas of Japan, Teikoku-Shoin Co., Ltd., Tokyo, ISBN 4-8071-0004-1
  2. ^ Watari Y, Yamada F, Sugimura K, Takatsuki S. 2006. Direct and indirect effects of an alien mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) on the native animal community on Amami-Oshima Island, southern Japan, as inferred from distribution patterns of animals.
  3. ^ Oki K., 2014. Amami whale and dolphin association. retrieved on 28-05-2014
  4. ^ Ito H., 2014. Endangered whale captured on film off Amami-Oshima. The Asahi Shimbun. retrieved on 28-05-2014
  5. ^ Oki K., 2014.1/28 セミクジラ!!!!. 奄美大島撮影日記. retrieved on 28-05-2014
  6. ^ Miyazaki N., Nakayama K. (1989). "Records of Cetaceans in the Waters of the Amami Island" (PDF). 国立科学博物館専報 22, 235-249, 1989. National Museum of Nature and Science, Museum of History and Folklore in Kasari. p. CiNii. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  7. ^ http://www.env.go.jp/en/nature/nps/parks_list.html
  • Eldridge, Mark. The Return of the Amami Islands: The Reversion Movement and U.S.-Japan Relations. Levington Books (2004) ISBN 0739107100
  • Hellyer. Robert. Defining Engagement: Japan and Global Contexts, 1640-1868. Harvard University Press (2009) ISBN 0674035771
  • Turnbull, Stephen. The Most Daring Raid of the Samurai. Rosen Publishing Group (2011) ISBN 978-1448818723
  • Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori. Whiley (2011) ISBN 1118045564
  • Yeo, Andrew. Activists, Alliances, and Anti-U.S. Base Protests. Cambridge University Press. (2011) ISBN 1107002478

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amami_Ōshima — Please support Wikipedia.
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522 news items


Thu, 26 Nov 2015 21:26:15 -0800

The troops will be deployed to new bases on Ishigaki, one of the western-most islands in Okinawa Prefecture, as well as on Miyako and Amami-Oshima islands as part of a major upgrade of Japan's efforts to defend its outlying territories and territorial ...

South China Morning Post (subscription)

South China Morning Post (subscription)
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 07:00:00 -0800

... although the police and coastguard do keep a careful watch on the movements of suspicious boats in the area, particularly after a violent clash that took place between the coastguard and an armed North Korean ship off Amami-Oshima in December 2001.
The Japan Times
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 04:33:45 -0800

... end of fiscal 2015, as well as security and missile units comprising some 800 troops in total on the island of Miyakojima, also in Okinawa, and such units of some 550 troops on the island of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture by the end of fiscal ...

The Japan News

The Japan News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:48:45 -0800

Deployments of security and missile units are planned by fiscal 2018 to Miyakojima island in Okinawa Prefecture with 700 to 800 personnel and to Amami-Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture with 550 members. The government plans to deploy long-range ...
Asahi Shimbun
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 20:00:00 -0700

He made several visits to Amami-Oshima, the largest in the archipelago, and interviewed people in their 80s and 90s who had participated in the movement. Like the Okinawa islands, the Amami Islands had been politically and administratively separated ...
Business Wire (press release)
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 06:00:26 -0800

To kick-off the festivities, a culinary artist will fillet a Pacific bluefin tuna, which will be specially brought in from Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima. After being prepared by the artisan, the Pacific bluefin tuna will be cooked on the spot and ...

The Japan Times

The Japan Times
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 01:33:45 -0800

Other species added to the list as threatened species included Ishikawa's frog, which is endemic to Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Yanbaru long-armed scarab beetle, which inhabits the northern part of Okinawa Prefecture. The list ...


Thu, 05 Nov 2015 18:33:21 -0800

Three lush, wondrous islands — Amami-Oshima, Miyakojima, and Ishigaki — are now slated for missile-launching capability and live-fire training ranges. On Yonaguni, so far south it is only 69 miles from Taiwan, the plan is to build microwave radar ...

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