Tokunoshima (Japanese: 徳之島, Tokunoshima: トゥクヌシマ, Tukunushima), also known in English as Tokunoshima Island and Tokuno Island, is one of the Satsunan Islands, classed with the Amami archipelago between Kyūshū and Okinawa.[1]

The island, 247.77 km2 (95.66 sq mi) in area, has a population of approximately 27,000. Administratively it is divided into the three towns of Tokunoshima, Isen, and Amagi in Kagoshima Prefecture. Much of the island is within the borders of the Amami Guntō Quasi-National Park.

Native name:
徳之島, Tokunoshima
Tokunoshima zenkei
Aerial view of the island. (2011)
Satsunan Islands
LocationEast China Sea
Coordinates27°49′12″N 128°55′56″E / 27.82000°N 128.93222°ECoordinates: 27°49′12″N 128°55′56″E / 27.82000°N 128.93222°E
ArchipelagoAmami Islands
Area247.77 km2 (95.66 sq mi)
Length25 km (15.5 mi)
Width18 km (11.2 mi)
Coastline80 km (50 mi)
Highest elevation645 m (2,116 ft)
Highest pointInokawadake
PrefecturesKagoshima Prefecture
DistrictŌshima District
Population27,000 (2013)
Pop. density108.97 /km2 (282.23 /sq mi)
Ethnic groupsJapanese


Tokunoshima is isolated from the other Amami islands, and is located halfway between Amami Ōshima and Okinoerabujima, approximately 489 kilometers (264 nmi) south of the southern tip of Kyūshū and 100 kilometres (54 nmi) north of Okinawa.

The island is of volcanic origin with a length of approximately 25 kilometers (16 mi) and width of 18 kilometers (11 mi), with Mount Inokawadake at 645 meters (2,116 ft) above sea level at its highest peak. Mount Amagidake in the north has a height of 533 meters (1,749 ft). The coast of the island is surrounded by a coral reef.

The island is covered with forests of laurel, but has been extensively cleared for agriculture. There are many caves on the island, the longest of which measures 2,052 meters (6,732 ft) and is located in the area of Isen.

The climate of Tokunoshima is classified as 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.


Tokunoshima is home to several rare species endemic to the island itself, or more generally to the Ryukyu archipelago. The Amami rabbit is found only on Tokunoshima and Amami-Ōshima and is listed as endangered. Also endangered is the Tokunoshima spiny rat, found only on the island.


It is uncertain when Tokunoshima was first settled. It is mentioned in the ancient Japanese chronicle Nihon Shoki in the 720s. Until 1624, Tokunoshima was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom and was famous for a unique form of bullfighting called Tōgyū. The island was invaded by samurai from Satsuma Domain in 1609 and its incorporation into the official holdings of that domain was recognized by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1624. Satsuma 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. In a famine in 1755, some 3000 islanders perished. Saigō Takamori was exiled to Tokunoshima in 1862 for less than two months, before he was resentenced to harsher conditions on Okinoerabujima.

After the Meiji Restoration it was incorporated into Ōsumi Province and later became part of Kagoshima Prefecture. Following World War II, with the other Amami Islands, it was occupied by the United States until 1953, at which time it reverted to the control of Japan. In 2006, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama offered the use of Tokunoshima to the United States as a relocation site for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, leading to widespread protests.


The port of Kametoku, located in the town of Tokunoshima has regular ferry service to Okinawa, Kagoshima and Kobe. The smaller port of Hetono, in the town of Amagi, has ferries to Kagoshima and Amami. Tokunoshima Airport, located in Amagi, is connected to Kagoshima and Amami by Japan Air Commuter.

Local attractions

Tokunoshima is a popular tourist destination. Hiking is discouraged because of the habu snake, but the mountain trails are exotic and beautiful. The beaches are also quite stunning, and there is a strange shore on the island's north in which the open sea crashes against massive flat stone slabs.

At Cape Intabu, the westernmost point of the island, is a memorial to the battleship Yamato and her escorts, which were sunk near Tokunoshima during the final stages of World War II.


  1. ^ Teikoku's Complete Atlas of Japan, Teikoku-Shoin Co., Ltd., Tokyo, ISBN 4-8071-0004-1
  • 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 978-1-4488-1872-3
  • 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

Amagi, Kagoshima

Amagi (天城町, Amagi-chō) is a town located on Tokunoshima, in Ōshima District, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

As of June 2013, the town has an estimated population of 6,350 and a population density of 79 persons per km². The total area is 80.35 km². The economy of the town is based on sugar cane, beef and seasonal tourism.

Amami Guntō National Park

Amami Guntō National Park (奄美群島国立公園, Amami Guntō Kokuritsu Kōen) is a national park in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. Established in 2017, the park comprises a land area of 42,181 ha (104,230 acres) and

a sea area of 33,082 ha (81,750 acres). The national park includes areas of these islands: Tokunoshima, Kikai, Amami, Yoron, Okinoerabujima, Uke Island, Kakeromajima and Yoroshima.

Amami tip-nosed frog

The Amami tip-nosed frog (Odorrana amamiensis) is a species of frog in the family Ranidae. It is endemic to the Amami Islands, a part of the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Specifically, it is known from the islands of Amamioshima and Tokunoshima.

Isen, Kagoshima

Isen (伊仙町, Isen-chō) is a town located on Tokunoshima, in Ōshima District, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

As of June 2013, the town has an estimated population of 6,594 and a population density of 105 persons per km². The total area is 62.70 km². Isen is known for its abundant nature, long-lived residents, and Tōgyū (bullfighting).

Japan Air Commuter

Japan Air Commuter Co., Ltd. (日本エアコミューター株式会社, Nihon Ea Komyūtā Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese airline based in Kirishima, Kagoshima Prefecture. It operates feeder services in support of Japan Airlines. Its main base is Kagoshima Airport, with hubs at Osaka International Airport, Amami Airport and Fukuoka Airport.

Kagoshima Prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県, Kagoshima-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Kyushu. The capital is the city of Kagoshima.

Kamui ware

Kamui ware (カムィ焼), from Tokunoshima kamïyaki, is grey stoneware produced in Tokunoshima, the Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan from the 11th century to the early 14th century, or from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period.

Lidth's jay

The Lidth's jay or Amami jay (Garrulus lidthi) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to Japan.

Measuring up to 38 cm (15 in) in total length, it is slightly larger than its close relative the Eurasian jay, with a proportionately stouter bill and also a longer tail. It has no discernible crest, with the head feathers a velvety black, the shoulders and back a deep purplish blue and all other parts a rich chestnut purple.

This jay has a very restricted distribution occurring only on the southern Japanese islands of Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima in pine forest, sub-tropical woodland and cultivated areas especially around villages.

Food is largely made up of the acorns of the native oak Quercus cuspidata but includes small reptiles and invertebrates of many types.

The bird nests in large cavities in trees but otherwise the nest is the same as that of the other two Garrulus species with 3–4 eggs.

The voice is similar to that of the Eurasian jay.

The species was threatened in the past by hunting for its feathers, which were used for decorating ladies' hats. Today it is threatened by introduced small Indian mongooses, which were brought to its range to control the venomous Okinawa pit viper. The species is fully protected under Japanese law and is increasing in numbers thanks to control of the mongooses.

The species name commemorates the Dutch zoologist Theodoor Gerard van Lidth de Jeude.

Northern Ryukyuan languages

The Northern Ryukyuan languages are a group of languages spoken in the Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture and the Okinawa Islands, Okinawa Prefecture of southwestern Japan. It is one of two primary branches of the Ryukyuan languages, which are then part of the Japonic languages. The subdivisions of Northern Ryukyuan are a matter of scholarly debate.

Okinoerabu Airport

Okinoerabu Airport (沖永良部空港, Okinoerabu Kūkō) (IATA: OKE, ICAO: RJKB) is located on the island of Okinoerabujima in the town of Wadomari, Ōshima District, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

Pterophorus albidus

Pterophorus albidus is a moth of the family Pterophoridae. It is distributed in Africa, south and south-east Asia, including New Guinea and Australia, as well as Japan (Kyushu) and the Ryukyu Islands (Tokunoshima, Okinoerabujima, Okinawa).

The length of the forewings is 8–10 mm. The species is characterized by the faint yellow colour.

Larvae have been recorded feeding on Ipomoea nil.


Tokudaia is a genus of murine rodent native to Japan. Known as Ryūkyū spiny rats or spinous country-rats, population groups exist on several non-contiguous islands. Despite differences in name and appearance, they are the closest living relatives of the Eurasian field mouse (Apodemus). Of the three species, both T. osimensis and T. tokunoshimensis have lost their Y chromosome and SRY gene; the sex chromosomes of T. muenninki, on the other hand, are abnormally large.Named species are:

Muennink's spiny rat, Tokudaia muenninki

Ryukyu spiny rat, Tokudaia osimensis

Tokunoshima spiny rat, Tokudaia tokunoshimensisAt least Tokudaia osimensis may be a cryptic species complex.

Tokunoshima, Kagoshima

Tokunoshima (徳之島町, Tokunoshima-chō) is a town located on Tokunoshima, in Ōshima District, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

As of June 2013, the town has an estimated population of 11,673 and a population density of 111 persons per km². The total area is 104.87 km².

Tokunoshima Airport

Tokunoshima Airport (徳之島空港, Tokunoshima Kūkō) (IATA: TKN, ICAO: RJKN) is an airport on the island of Tokunoshima, located in the town of Amagi, Ōshima District, Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan.

Tokunoshima language

The Tokunoshima language (シマグチ (島口) Shimaguchi or シマユミィタ Shimayumiita), also Toku-No-Shima, is a dialect cluster spoken on Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture of southwestern Japan. It is part of the Amami–Okinawan languages, which are part of the Japonic languages.

Tokunoshima spiny rat

The Tokunoshima spiny rat (Tokudaia tokunoshimensis) is a rodent found only on the island of Tokunoshima in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. Due to its small habitat, it is considered endangered. It is commonly found in the secondary and primary subtropical moist broadleaf forests of this island. The karyotype has an odd diploid number, 2n = 45. Like its relative T. osimensis, it is one of the few mammals that lack a Y chromosome and SRY gene.The species is threatened by deforestation and predation by feral cats and dogs.

Utetheisa inconstans

Utetheisa inconstans is a moth in the family Erebidae. It was described by Arthur Gardiner Butler in 1880. It is found in Japan (Tokunoshima, Okinawa, Iriomote, Minami) and Taiwan.

Yanbaru whiskered bat

The Yanbaru whiskered bat (Myotis yanbarensis) is a species of vesper bat in the genus Myotis.

It is known only from three islands of the Ryukyu Archipelago, south of Japan, Okinawa (where the Yanbaru forest is situated), Amami Ōshima, and Tokunoshima.

The species has been classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

Ōshima Subprefecture (Kagoshima)

Ōshima Subprefecture (大島支庁, Ōshima-shichō) is a subprefecture of Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The subprefectural office is located in Amami.

It includes the following municipalities on the Amami Islands:

Ōshima Subprefecture

Amami (city on Amami Ōshima)

Tatsugō (town on Amami Ōshima)

Yamato (village on Amami Ōshima)

Setouchi Office

Uken (village on Amami Ōshima)

Setouchi (town on Amami Ōshima, Kakeromajima, Yoroshima, Ukejima, and others)

Kikai Office

Kikai (town on Kikaijima)

Tokunoshima Office

Tokunoshima (town on Tokunoshima)

Amagi (town on Tokunoshima)

Isen (town on Tokunoshima)

Okinoerabu Office

Wadomari (town on Okinoerabujima)

China (town on Okinoerabujima)

Yoron (town on Yoronjima)



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