Gajajima (臥蛇島), is an abandoned island in the Tokara Islands, a sub-group of the Satsunan Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island has an area of 4.07 km² in area and was inhabited to 1970.

Native name:
Japanese: 臥蛇島
Gaja island and Kogaja island 20070308
Gajajima and Kogajajima
LocationEast China Sea
Coordinates29°54′N 129°32′E / 29.900°N 129.533°E
ArchipelagoTokara Islands
Area4.07 km2 (1.57 sq mi)
Length3 km (1.9 mi)
Width2 km (1.2 mi)
Coastline9 km (5.6 mi)
Highest elevation497 m (1,631 ft)


Gajajima Map
Location of Gaja Island in the Tokara Islands

Gajajima is located 28 kilometres (15 nmi) west of Nakanoshima. The island is volcanic in origin, although no volcanic activity has occurred in historic times and no comprehensive geological survey has been performed. The irregularly-shaped island has an area of approximately 4.07 square kilometres (1.57 sq mi) with a length of about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) and a width of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). The coastline is surrounded by cliffs of up to 100 meters in height, making landing impossible except for one location in the south.The highest elevation on the island is 497 metres (1,631 ft) above sea level. Its climate is classified as subtropical, with a rainy season from May through September.


Per local folklore, the island was one of the havens of the defeated Heike clan after they lost the Genpei War against the Minamoto clan. It came under the control of the Shimazu clan from 1434. In 1450, the island was invaded by the Ryukyu Kingdom, and was the northernmost expansion of that country.[1] During the Edo period, Takarajima was part of Satsuma Domain and was administered as part of Kawabe District. In 1896, the island was transferred to the administrative control of Ōshima District, Kagoshima, and from 1911 was part of the village of Toshima, Kagoshima. A lighthouse was completed in 1940, and the population at that time was 133. The village had an elementary school, and its own ship for connection to the mainland and other islands.

From 1946 to 1952, the island was administered by the United States as part of the Provisional Government of Northern Ryukyu Islands. A junior high school was built in 1948, power plant and water treatment plant in 1961 and telephone system in 1966. The population was economically supported by commercial fishing for bonito. However, the island was repeatedly devastated by typhoons, especially in 1945, 1951, 1956, and 1957 leading to plans to relocate the population to either Amami Ōshima or mainland Kagoshima Prefecture. Collapse of the bonito fisheries for unknown reasons financially ruined the islanders and led to near famine conditions, causing many islanders to leave. A decision was reached by the government to relocate the remaining seven households with a total of 28 people to Kagoshima on January 1970. At the time of the evacuation on 28 July 1970, only 4 households with 16 people were remaining. However, even after the evacuation of the inhabitants, the lighthouse remained manned until April 1982.

Although landing is not permitted to the general public, the abandoned buildings have been looted, and in 1996 the Japanese government discovered that a party of six Chinese had illegally landed on the island and were attempting to establish residence. Groups of former island residents have visited the island in 2001 and 2010 to take care of their ancestral graves.


  1. ^ Turnbull, Stephen. The Samurai Capture a King: Okinawa 1609. Osprey Publishing, 2009. Pp 9.
  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA). Prostar Sailing Directions 2005 Japan Enroute. Prostar Publications (2005). ISBN 1577856511

External links


Kogajajima (小臥蛇島) is an uninhabited volcanic island located in the Tokara Islands, part of the Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

List of islands in the East China Sea

Islands in the East China Sea include:

Matsu Islands (29.61 km²)

Peikan (Beigan)

Kaoteng (Gaodeng)

Nankan (Nangan)

Tungyin (Dongyin)

Hsiyin (Xiyin)

Liang Island

Chukuang (Jyuguang)

Tungchu (Dongjyu, Dongquan)

Hsichu (Xijyu, Xiquan)


Ryukyu Islands (4,597.68 km²—Daitō Islands excluded)

Satsunan Islands

Ōsumi Islands:

Tanegashima, Yaku, Kuchinoerabu, Mageshima

Takeshima, Iōjima, Kuroshima

Tokara Islands: Kuchinoshima, Nakanoshima, Gajajima, Suwanosejima, Akusekijima, Tairajima, Kodakarajima, Takarajima

Amami Islands: Amami Ōshima, Kikaijima, Kakeromajima, Yoroshima, Ukeshima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabujima, Yoronjima


Okinawa Islands: Okinawa Island, Kume, Iheya, Izena, Aguni, Ie (Iejima), Iwo Tori Shima (Iōtorishima)

Kerama Islands: Tokashiki, Zamami, Aka, Geruma

Sakishima Islands

Miyako Islands: Miyakojima, Ikema, Ōgami, Irabu, Shimoji, Kurima, Minna, Tarama

Yaeyama Islands: Iriomote, Ishigaki, Taketomi, Kohama, Kuroshima, Aragusuku, Hatoma, Yubujima, Hateruma, Yonaguni

Senkaku Islands (7 km²)

Uotsurijima, Kuba Jima, Taisho Jima, Kita Kojima, Minami Kojima, Oki-no-Kita-Iwa, Oki-no-Minami-Iwa, Tobise

Zhoushan Archipelago (1,440.12 km²)

Zhoushan Island

Daishan Island

Liuheng Island

Jintang Island

Zhujiajian Island

Qushan Island

Mount Putuo

Jeju Island (1,849 km²)


Pengjia Islet (1.14 km²)Total land area: 7,924.55 square kilometres

List of islands of Japan

Japan has 6,852 islands. Approximately 430 are inhabited. Japan is the largest island country in East Asia and the fourth largest island country in the world. Here's a list of islands of Japan.

List of volcanoes in Japan

This is a list of active and extinct volcanoes in Japan. Orange background indicates a volcano considered active by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.

Satsunan Islands

The Satsunan Islands (薩南諸島, Satsunan-shotō) is a geopolitical name for a group of islands that forms the northern part of the Ryukyu Islands. The whole island group belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

Tokara Islands

The Tokara Islands (吐噶喇列島, Tokara-rettō) is an archipelago in the Nansei Islands, and are part of the Satsunan Islands, which is in turn part of the Ryukyu Archipelago. The 150 kilometres (81 nmi) chain consists of twelve small islands located between Yakushima and Amami-Oshima. The islands have a total area of 101.35 square kilometres (39.13 sq mi). Administratively, the whole group belongs to Toshima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. Only seven of the islands are permanently inhabited. The islands, especially Takarajima, are home to the Tokara Pony.

Typhoon Rita (1972)

Typhoon Rita, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Gloring, is tied as the second longest-lived Western Pacific tropical cyclone on record with Typhoon Noru of 2017, behind Typhoon Wayne of 1986. Rita traversed the basin along an erratic path for 22 days. The second of four simultaneously developing storms, Rita was first identified to the southeast of Guam on July 5, 1972.



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