The Full Wiki

Bonin Islands: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Bonin Islands, known in Japan as the are an archipelago of over 30 subtropical and tropical islands, some 1,000 km directly south of Tokyomarker, Japanmarker. Administratively, they are part of Ogasawara Municipalitymarker (mura) of Ogasawara Subprefecturemarker, Tokyo. The total area of the islands is 73 km², with a population of 2440 (2000 on Chichijimamarker, and 440 on Hahajimamarker, the only two inhabited islands).

The only inhabited islands of the group are (Chichi-jimamarker (父島), the seat of the municipal government, and Haha-jimamarker (母島)). includes what is within Ogasawara Village.

In Japanese, the archipelago is called . By contrast, the term , is a wider, collective term for all islands of Ogasawara Municipalitymarker, which also includes the Volcano Islands and a few isolated islands. The common English name for Ogasawara Guntō is Bonin Islands, from bunin, an archaic reading of 無人 (mujin), that means "no people" or "uninhabited."

Administrative and geographic taxonomies

Administratively, the Volcano Islands, Nishinoshima (Rosario Island), Okinotorishima (Parece Vela) and Minamitorishima (Marcus Island) are today part of Ogasawara municipalitymarker. Geographically, they are not traditionally considered part of the Bonin Islands, which are the Mukojima, Chichijima, and Hahajima island clusters. In other words, the historical ambit of the Bonin Islands (Ogasawara Guntō) is not the precise equivalent of the Japanese governmental unit. The Bonin Islands is a geographical term excluding the other islands which are today associated within the boundaries of a collective term, Ogasawara Shotō.

The Bonin Islands consist of three subgroups, which are listed along with their main islands:
  • Mukojima Group (聟島列島 Mukojima Rettō) - formerly Parry Group
    • Mukojima (聟島, literally: Bridegroom Island)
    • Yomejima (嫁島, literally: Bride Island)
    • Nakōdo-jima or Nakadachijima (媒島, literally: Go-between Island)
    • Kitanojima (北ノ島 or 北島, literally: Northern Island)
  • Chichijima Group (父島列島 Chichijima Rettō) - formerly Beechey Group
    • Chichijimamarker (父島, literally: Father Island),
    • Anijima (兄島, literally: Elder Brother Island)
    • Otōtojima (弟島, literally: Younger Brother Island)
  • Hahajima Group (母島列島 Hahajima Rettō) - formerly Baily Group
    • Hahajimamarker (母島, literally: Mother Island)
    • Anejima (姉島, literally: Elder Sister Island)
    • Imōtojima (妹島, literally: Younger Sister Island)




Minamijima, a small island in Chichijima group



Discovery and colonization

The first European discovery of the islands is said to have taken place in 1543, by the Spanish explorer Bernardo de la Torre.

  • Bunroku 1 (1592): Ogasawara Sadayori claims to have discovered the Bonin Islands, and the territory was granted to him as a fief by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
  • Kanbun 10 (1670): The islands are discovered by the Japanese when a ship bound for Edo from Kyushu is blown off course by a storm.
  • Enpō 3 (1675): The islands are explored by shogunate expedition, following up "discovery" in Kanbun 10. The islands are claimed as a territory of Japan.
  • Bunkyū 1 (January 1862): The islands are re-confirmed as a territory of Japan, following "discovery" of the islands in Kanbun 10 (1670) and a shogunate expedition to the islands in Enpō 3 (1675).

The islands remained uninhabited until Nathaniel Savory, an American, landed on the island of Chichijima in 1830 and formed the first colony there. In 1853, Commodore Perry visited the islands and bought property at Port Lloyd from Savory for $50.

These groups were collectively called Islas del Arzobispo (Archbishop Islands) in Spanish sources of the 18th-19th century. Japanese maps at the time seem to have been rather inaccurate and therefore considered by some to be deliberately misleading. It is thought that this was an attempt to discourage colonization attempts by foreign nations. Frederick William Beechey used the Spanish name as late as 1831 and believed that the Japanese Boninsima referred to entirely different islands.

The history of the islands was compiled by Lionel Cholmondeley over the course of several years; and his work was published in London in 1915.

In 1917, approximately 60-70 island people claimed ancestry among to the 19th century English-speaking settlers; however, in 1941, no Bonin people would acknowledge descent from these early colonists. The current residents include some who claim to be related to Nathaniel Savory.

The Ogasawara islanders were relegated to an insignificant status up through the early Shōwa period.

World War II to present

In this photograph, the man at the well draws attention; but the photo also shows the "thatched roofs, weather-beaten unpainted sides and paper partions and windows" which were characteristic of the village in pre-war 1941.
During World War II, most of the inhabitants were forcibly evacuated to the mainland. There was a Japanese military base on Chichijima, whose officer in charge, Major , was known for performing cannibalism and other acts on prisoners of war and was executed for his crimes after the war.Welch, Jeanie M. "Without a Hangman, Without a Rope: Navy War Crimes Trials After World War II," International Journal of Naval History. Vol. 1, No. 1 (April 2002).

The islands were occupied by the U.S. Navy from 1945, at which point the inhabitants of "Western" (mainly of mixed Anglo American or European, Filipino and Polynesian descent) were allowed back. The islands were returned to Japan in 1968, at which time Japanese evacuees were allowed to return.

Now nearly all inhabitants, including those of Western ancestry, are Japanese citizens, and the Japanese language is used. Research indicates that an English-lexified pidgin (creole) was spoken on the islands during the 19th century. During the 20th century, islanders of Western descent increasingly mixed Japanese with island English, resulting in a mixed language that can still be heard today. Younger speakers are monolingual in a variety of Japanese closely resembling the Tokyo standard. A bilingual dictionary, Talking Dictionary of the Bonin Islands Language (with CD-ROM), was published in 2005.

A 25m-diameter radio telescope is located in Chichijima, which is one of the stations of the VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry (VERA) project, and is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Recent developments

Japan's Ministry of the Environmentmarker and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheriesmarker have entered the Ogasawara Islands as a candidate World Heritage Site on the premise that the islands meet the three listed criteria for geology, ecosystems, and biodiversity.

The giant squid (genus Architeuthis) was filmed off the Ogasawara Islands for the first time in the wild on September 27, 2005, and was captured in December 2006.

Fictional references

The Ogasawara Islands have been referenced in a number of works of fiction. The Sevii Islands from Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green are based on the Bonin Islands. In the Godzilla films Monster Island is sometimes located in the chain. In an English-dubbed version, it is referred to as "Ogasawara Island" as if it were a lone island of that name. In the television series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, a fictional island in the chain, South Ataria Island (which would have laid at the southernmost position in the chain, surpassing Minami Iwo Jima), is the landing site of the SDF-1 Macross.In the 1963 film Matango, a luxury yacht is set adrift and lands on an island. Upon approaching the island one of the crew members shouts: "I wonder if it's the Bonin Islands?" The English subtitles for the film misspell Bonin "Bonan".


One can get from the main Japanese islands to Chichijima by way of the Ogasawara Maru liner, run by Ogasawara Marine Transportation. The ship leaves from Takeshiba port in Tokyo Baymarker, and the trip takes around 25.5 hours (in good weather). There are four or five crossings each month. The Ogasawara Maru is a 6,700 ton vessel, 131m long, with a capacity of 1,031 passengers. To get to Hahajima, one must first get to Chichijima, and then cross by the liner Hahajima Maru.

Because a trip from the main Japanese islands to the Ogasawaras is very difficult, when people get severely ill or otherwise have an emergency, word is conveyed to Iwo Jimamarker Japan Maritime Self Defense Force post, and a helicopter is sent to the islands. Emergencies can also be handled from the main Japanese islands by Japan Air Self-Defense Force airplanes or the Maritime Self Defense Force base in Iwakuni can convey evacuees to the main islands by seaplane, the ShinMaywa US-1. This seaplane is also used to transport the Tokyo governor and other VIPs.

Ogasawara Village operates a bus service on Chichijima and elderly passengers may use a "silver pass." There is also a sightseeing taxi service, a rental car company, motorized scooter rental services, a bike rental service, and other amenities. Bringing one's own automobile onto the island is extremely difficult and costly.

Issues with improved transportation

The world's first 'techno superliner', the Super Liner Ogasawara (which was to be commissioned in 2006), with a maximum speed of 70 km/h, 14,500 tons gross tonnage, was expected to shorten the voyage to Ogasawara to about 17 hours and carry up to 740 passengers. However, the project was canceled in July 2005 due to rising fuel prices and the loss of ¥2 billion.

The Ogasawara Islands have no airport, and there is no prospect for one being constructed. However, there was talk for several decades of building one . Anijima and Chichijima were once designated possible construction sites, but because there are numerous valuable, rare, or endangered plant species forming a unique ecosystem in the vicinity of the proposed sites, issues of nature conservation were raised. Although construction of an airport was desired by some, a desire to keep the natural beauty of the islands untouched created a movement to block it. The airport issue was quite controversial on the islands.



The Ogasawara Islands were formed around 48 million years ago. They are a part of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc known geologically as a fore arc. They lie above a subduction zone between the Pacific Plate and the Philippine Sea Platemarker. The Pacific Plate is subducting under the Philippine Sea Plate, which creates an oceanic trench to the east of the islands. The crust of the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands was formed by volcanic activity when subduction began 45–50 million years ago, and is composed mostly of an andesitic volcanic rock called boninite, which is rich in magnesium oxide, chromium, and silicon dioxide. The Ogasawara Islands may represent the exposed parts of an ophiolite that has not yet been emplaced on oceanic crust. The rocks of the Volcano Islands are much younger; Iwo Jimamarker is a dormant volcano characterized by rapid uplift and several hot springs.

Most of the islands have steep shorelines, often with sea cliffs ranging from 50 to 100 meters in height, but the islands are also fringed with coral reefs and have many beaches. The highest point lies on South Iwo Jimamarker, at 916m.


Ogasawara subtropical moist forests

The Ogasawara Islands form a distinct subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion, with a high degree of biodiversity and endemism. The islands are home to about 500 plant species, of which 43% are endemic. The forests are of three main types:
  • Type I: Elaeocarpus-Ardisia mesic forest' is found in the moist lowland areas with deep soils. The forests have a closed canopy with a height of about 15 meters, dominated by Ardisia sieboldii. Elaeocarpus photiniaefolius, Pisonia umbellifera, and Pouteria obovata are other important canopy species. These forests were almost completely destroyed by clearing for agriculture before 1945.
  • Type II: Distylium-Raphiolepis-Schima dry forest' is found in drier lowland and upland sites with shallower soils. It is also a closed-canopy forest, with a 4 to 8 meter canopy composed mostly of Distylium lepidotum, Rhaphiolepis integerrima, Schima mertensiana, Pouteria obovata, and Syzygium buxifolium. The Type II forests can be further subdivided into:
    • Type IIa: Distylium-Schima dry forest' occurs in cloudy upland areas with fine-textured soils. These forests contain many rare and endemic species, with Pandanus boninensis and Syzygium buxifolium as the predominant trees.
    • Type IIb: Raphiolepsis-Livistona dry forest' is found in upland areas with few clouds and rocky soils. Rhaphiolepis integerrima is the dominant tree species, along with the fan palm Livistona chinensis var. bonensis, Pandanus boninensis and Ochrosia nakaiana.
  • Type III: Distylium-Pouteria scrub forest' is found on windy and dry mountain ridges and exposed sea cliffs. These forests have the highest species diversity on the islands. Distylium lepidotum and Pouteria obovata are the dominant species, growing from 0.5 to 1.5 meters tall. Other common shrubs are Myrsine okabeana, Symplocos kawakamii, and Pittosporum parvifolium.

Several bird species are or were endemic to the islands, including the Japanese Woodpigeon (Columba janthina) and the Vulnerable Bonin White-eye (Apalopteron familiare), formerly known as "Bonin Honeyeater". A small bat, Pipistrellus sturdeei is only known in one record and has not been seen since 1915. The Bonin flying fox (Pteropus pselaphon), also called the Bonin fruit bat, is endemic to the islands. It is currently listed as Critically Endangered, and a survey published by the Ogasawara Office of Education in 1999 estimated their number to be around 100.


Flora has evolved differently on each of the islands. The Ogasawara Islands are sometimes referred to as the Galapagos of the Orient.


Ogasawara Village operates its public elementary and junior high schools.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education operates Ogasawara High School [46006] on Chichi-jima.


  1. Freeman, Otis W. (1951). Geography of the Pacific, pp. 229-235.
  2. "Bonin Islands," Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 06, 2009.
  3. Welsch, Bernhard. (2004). "Was Marcus Island Discovered by Bernardo de la Torre in 1543?" Journal of Pacific History, 39:1, 109-122.
  4. Cholmondeley, Lionel Berners. (1915). The History of the Bonin Islands from the Year 1827 to the Year 1876. London: Constable & Co.
  5. Tanaka, Hiroyuki. (1993). "The Ogasawara Islands in Tokugawa Japan," Kaiji Shi Kenkyuu (Journal of the Maritime History).
  6. [see above]
  7. Tanaka, Hiroyuki (1993). "Edo Jidai ni okeru Nihonjin no Mujin Tou (Ogasawara Tou) ni tai-suru Ninshiki" ("The Ogasawara Islands in Tokugawa Japan"). Kaiji Shi Kenkyuu(Journal of the Maritime History). No. 50, June, 1993.
  8. Asia Society of Japan, Long lecture.
  9. Rein, J. J. (1884). Japan: Travel and Researches, pp.533-534.
  10. National Geographic, October 1944, pp. 387-388, 404.
  11. "Story of George H. W. Bush World War II Experience," CNN. December 20, [[2003.
  12. Trumbull, Robert. "Bonin Islanders Seek U.S. Tie But Remain International Pawns; Descendants of Americans Ask Citizenship in Vain--Fight Return of Japanese," New York Times. March 11, 1956.
  13. linguistic culture
  14. Macross Compendium Atlas Listing
  15. Matango - 00:17
  16. coral reefs


See also

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address