Suwanosejima (諏訪之瀬島) is one of the Tokara Islands, belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture. The island covers 27.66 km² in area and has a population of 48 persons.[1] Although the island has an airport, there are no regularly scheduled services, and access is normally by ferry to the city of Kagoshima on the mainland. The island is about nine hours by boat from the mainland. The islanders are dependent mainly on agriculture, fishing and seasonal tourism.[2]

Native name:
Japanese: 諏訪之瀬島
LocationEast China Sea
Coordinates29°38′N 129°43′E / 29.633°N 129.717°E
ArchipelagoTokara Islands
Area27.66 km2 (10.68 sq mi)
Coastline27.15 km (16.87 mi)
Highest elevation796 m (2,612 ft)
Highest pointOtake
Kagoshima Prefecture
Population48 (2004)
Ethnic groupsJapanese


Suwanosejima is the second largest of the islands in the Tokara archipelago, and is located 21 kilometres (11 nmi) southwest from Nakanoshima. The highest elevation is Otake (御岳), with a height of 796 metres (2,612 ft) above sea level, which is the exposed cone of an active stratovolcano arising from the ocean floor. The local climate is classified as subtropical, with a rainy season from May through September.


Suwanosejima has been populated sporadically (depending on volcanic activity), for several thousand years. The island was once part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. During the Edo period, Suwanosejima was part of Satsuma Domain and was administered as part of Kawabe District.

It was abandoned after a great 15th century eruption, until it was resettled by people of the Amami Islands in the 19th century.[3] After large-scale Plinian eruptions from 1813-1814, which ejected a large amount of scoria and saw lava flows to the west coast, the island was abandoned by its inhabitants again until 1883. Further eruptions occurred in 1877, 1914-1915, 1921, 1922-1925, 1938, 1940, 1949, 1950-1954, 1957-1999, 2001-2002 and 2004-present. One of the most active volcanic islands in the world, Suwanosejima recorded 156 volcanic eruptions in 2008 and 216 in 2009.

In 1896, the island was transferred to the administrative control of Ōshima District, Kagoshima, and from 1911 was administered as part of the village of Toshima, Kagoshima. From 1946-1952, the island was administered by the United States as part of the Provisional Government of Northern Ryukyu Islands.

It is the home of Buzoku, also called the Banyan Ashram, a commune founded in the 1960s by Sansei Yamao, Nanao Sakaki, and others, and home for a while to American poet and scholar Gary Snyder.

See also


  1. ^ 人口 (PDF) (in Japanese). Tokara Village. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  2. ^ Shurtleff 1998, pg. 274
  3. ^ Snyder 1999, pg. 63


  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA). Prostar Sailing Directions 2005 Japan Enroute. Prostar Publications (2005). ISBN 1577856511
  • Das, Bhagavan (1997). It's Here Now (Are You?) Broadway. ISBN 0-7679-0008-1
  • Halper, Jon, ed. Gary Snyder: Dimensions of a Life (1991) Sierra Club Books. ISBN 0-87156-616-8
  • Shurtleff, William and Aoyagi, Akiko (1998). The Book of Tofu. ISBN 978-1-58008-013-2
  • Snyder, Gary. The Gary Snyder Reader (1999) Counterpoint. ISBN 978-1-887178-90-7

External links

Aspidistra elatior

Aspidistra elatior, the cast-iron-plant or bar-room plant, also known in Japanese as haran or baran (葉蘭) is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to Japan and Taiwan. Tolerant of neglect, it is widely cultivated as a houseplant, but can also be grown outside in shade where temperatures remain above −5 °C (23 °F). It is used as training material for the seika form of ikebana.

Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American man of letters. Perhaps best known as a poet (often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist with anarchoprimitivist leanings. He has been described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology". Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award. His work, in his various roles, reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. Snyder was an academic at the University of California, Davis and a member of the California Arts Council.

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List of islands in the East China Sea

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Matsu Islands (29.61 km²)

Peikan (Beigan)

Kaoteng (Gaodeng)

Nankan (Nangan)

Tungyin (Dongyin)

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Satsunan Islands

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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)


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