Kii Oshima Island: Kansai’s Southernmost Island
Just off the tip of the Kii Peninsula, near the small town of Kushimoto in Wakayama Prefecture is Kii Oshima Island. Kii Oshima isn’t exactly a tourist destination, yet because it is largely ignored, its rocky coastline and pristine blue water are incredibly scenic. While we didn’t know almost anything about this island before we set out on this journey, we were amazed to discover its beauty!
About Kii Oshima
Walking to Kii Oshima Island
The closest station to Kii Oshima is Kushimoto Station–the southernmost train station on Japan’s main island (Honshu). Here at the tip of the Kii Penisula, you practically feel like you are in a different world when compared to big cities like Osaka or Kyoto.
It is probably also important to mention that there are no convenience stores on the island! Make sure to buy snacks, drinks, and any other provisions beforehand!
You can walk to the island from Kushimoto Station in Kushimoto, Wakayama. If you look at this on Google Maps, you might think it is entirely too far to walk all the way to the island, but it’s really not as far as it seems. Still, if you’d prefer, there is a bus that goes between these two points, but service is very limited.
Seen from a distance, the island doesn’t look very big at all, but in fact, Kii Oshima is bigger than you might imagine.
You have to cross the big bridge to reach the island. Don’t worry, while this road might seem rather intimidating, there is a sidewalk so it is safe to walk.
Just after the bridge is a little park and it has some amazing views. Our starting point today was here at the western tip of the island. From here, we covered a good chunk of Kii Oshima and finally ended at the north tip of the island, Kashinozaki.
Hiking Kii Oshima
Upon arriving on Kii Oshima Island, walk along Route 40 just for a few minutes and go down the stairs. This leads to the main community of Kii Oshima Island, Oshima. These stairs may not appear on your map app, so be careful not to miss them!
In Oshima, there is a little temple called Rensho-ji Temple. It seems that this is the only temple on this island. The temple is famous because it was the tutelary temple of the famous geisha, Oyuki of Kii Oshima. There was even a geisha district on Kii Oshima once too.
Once you leave Oshima walk along this road heading east.
After a while, you will see there is a small path to the observation deck in front of the Kanayama Tozanguchi [金山登山口] bus stop. It is only 30 minutes to and from the observation deck, and we really recommend going. From the observation deck, you can see the Hashigui Iwa Rocks. When we went to Kushimoto, it was impossible to see all the rocks beause there were so many of them. At this observation deck though, you can see all the rocks in a nice line stretching across the ocean. This is probably the only place you can see all of the Hashigui Iwa Rocks.
Once you rejoin the main trail, it will eventually merge with Route 40. The trail will continue along Route 40, so just keep walking down the highway. Despite being quite a small island, there is a decent amount of traffic due to the JASDF airbase on the island.
At this point, the map will instruct you to turn right at the Resort Oshima Camp Site. The campsite is private property, so don’t just wander around.
Kii Oshima Coast
After you pass the campsite and go through a small forest, you will reach the beautiful coast of Kii Oshima!!
The trail is a bit complicated from here. After you enjoy a pleasant stroll along the coast, you will reach a small parking lot. Head towards the very back of the parking lot and you will find some stone stairs; follow them.
Japan-U.S Friendship Memorial Museum
Once you reach the top of these stone steps you will be at the Japan-U.S Friendship Memorial Museum. “An odd place for this kind of museum?” You might be thinking. Actually, Kii Oshima where an American ship, the Lady Washington, came to shore in 1791. The ship came all the way to Japan to sell fur, but as soon as they found out their furs had no value in Japan, they promptly returned home. Though this seemingly unimportant event is not widely known, this was the very first American ship to come to Japan.
Umi Kongo and the Kashinozaki Lighthouse
Right around the museum is the most scenic area of Kii Oshima, Umikongo. The name Umi Kongo is supposed to be a reference to Geoje Heageumgang in Korea, which many believe has a similar rock formation. From here, you can also see the Kashinozaki Lighthouse. Just beneath the lighthouse is the site where the Turkish ship, the Ertuğrul, ran aground in a storm. The Turkish survivors scaled these massive cliff-sides and begged the local Japanese community for aid. The survivors of the Ertuğrul received so much kindness that this one event remains one of the most prominent reasons for the warm Turk and Japanese relations.
From the museum to Kashinozaki is roughly a 30-minute walk. Along the road, there were several farm stands selling kumquats. We didn’t get any, which is sort of a shame, since kumquats are one of Kii Oshima Island’s most famous products.
After a comfortable 4 hours, we’ve reached Kashinozaki.
Kii Oshima Island was a surprise in itself. This was one of those instances where we didn’t know what exactly to expect, yet ended up pleasantly surprised with what we found. Of course, there isn’t much here apart from hiking, and getting here takes some time as well. Still, if you are going to have an extended stay in the Kansai region, a trip here will certainly be a change of pace.
Inforamtion: Kii Oshima
Our Route (open google map)
Map is available from
The closest station to Kii Oshima is Kushimoto Station of JR Kinokuni (Kisei) Line. It takes three hours from Osaka by limited express Kuroshio.
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