Miyake-jima : The Town Where Everyone Wears A Gas Mask


Miyake-jima (三宅島?, “Miyake Island”) is an inhabited volcanic island in the Izu archipelago in the Philippine Sea approximately 180 kilometres (110 mi) southeast of Honshu, Japan. As with the other islands in the Izu Island group, Miyake-jima forms part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Full Story: Miyake-jima, an island located in the southeast of Honshu, Japan is home to around 2,884 inhabitants. With an area of 55.50 square kilometers, the island is 180 kilometers south of Tokyo and is known for its uninhabitable conditions. The island has continuous leakage of harmful poisonous gas from the high level of volcanic activities.

Over 3,600 people evacuated the island in 2000 because of the toxic gases which could harm their lungs. But some people are just too adamant to leave. They have adopted ways to suit the living conditions in the island. It may surprise you, but people residing there wear gas masks to protect themselves from the toxicity.

Miyakejima is known for the several volcanic activities taking place there. The volcanoes have erupted six times in the past century. What is jaw dropping is that the Mount Oyama eruption, which made everyone wear a gas mask, was a result of 17,500 earthquakes between a span of June 26 and July 21 in the year 2000. The place is not only uninhabitable, but creepy too.

The island is accessible by over-night ferry, the Sarubia Maru or the Camellia, which is operated by Tōkai Kisen. The ferry departs from Takeshiba Pier, near Hamamatsuchō Station, Tokyo at 22:30 and arrives at Miyakejima at 5:00.

There are flights connecting Miyakejima Airport and Haneda Airport with an approximate flying time of 50 minutes. Flights are also operated from Chofu Airport. The area is prone to high volume of sulfuric gas and flights were suspended for almost eight years after the July 14, 2000 volcano eruption. Flights resumed during April 2008, after sulfuric gases in the air dropped to levels below 0.2ppm. There is a helicopter that arrives via Izu Ōshima. There are also two helicopter flights operated by Tokyo Island Shuttle which originate in Aogashima and Izu Ōshima and fly to Toshima, Miyake-jima, Mikura-jima, Hachijō-jima and Aogashima.