How to get Shark island in Japan and Where to Stay, Super Thrilling! -Tobishima island, Yamagata, Japan
Tobishima island Source: Wikipedia
Tobishima island Source: Wikipedia
Lazy shark ( real name: Banded houndshark) Source: Wikipedia
Lazy shark ( real name: Banded houndshark) Source: Wikipedia

How to get Shark island in Japan and Where to Stay (UPDATED 2024)

wild birds, cherry blossom, sharks

You already conquered two cat islands in Japan? Looking for some unknown island full of cute animals in Japan?


How about gentle sharks? There are many types of sharks in the ocean and dangerous ones like you see in Jaws to the cute ones.


You can meet a lot of cute sharks in Tobishima island, Yamagata.


You can scuba dive in the ocean around the island and around 10 meter depth in the water there are so many gentle sharks( Banded houndshark 1.5 meter) living in that area (April-June). The sharks are lazing around (as it appears sorry, sharks!) at the bottom and in some caves of the sea. It is just incredible. It is said that these sharks in that area are all females.


NOTE: In Sakata area, recently we have seen also "not-lazy/not-so-cute-type of sharks like 3 meter one", so please seek for the professional diving guide who knows the area quite well.


If you are scared of sharks, in addition to the sharks, you can also enjoy bird watching and enjoy some sightseeing.


The island size is 2.7km2, 10.2km diameter with 226 residents.  It is located 39km from Sakata city. There are in total 21 inns and guesthouses.

tobishima island in 2024 (updated May 2024)

It has been a while since we wrote this article so we update a bit about the island.


There is no kid (schools are closed some years ago) but more young people moved to the island. One cosplayer from Fukushima made a good publicity in 2022. 

Today we see also a island based company called GK Tobishima trying to promote the island.


Tobishima celebrated another year of stunning cherry blossoms in 2024. On April 15th, the garden of the Sakata City Tobishima Elementary and Junior High School, currently closed due to no enrolled students, was adorned with the delicate blooms of Somei Yoshino cherry trees swaying gently in the breeze.


Despite the school closure, visitors are welcome to freely wander the school grounds. A staff member from the Bushima Community Center (a type of Sakata city office branch on the island) remarked, “March was quite chilly, but spring has finally arrived on the island. We hope tourists will come and enjoy the beauty.”


In addition to the cherry blossoms, Tobishima becomes a haven for birdwatchers in May. The island attracts bird enthusiasts nationwide, eager to observe the diverse avian species during the spring travel season. Birdwatching tours around Tobishima are increasingly popular, drawing attention from nature lovers.


Tobishima, Yamagata Prefecture’s only inhabited remote island, serves as a crucial stopover for migratory birds traveling from Southeast Asia to Hokkaido and Siberia. The island’s small forest reservoirs provide essential feeding grounds for these birds, making it a prime birdwatching location. The grounds of the now-closed Tobishima Elementary and Junior High School attract various bird species, including those that prefer seeds and small insects found in the grass and soil.


One rare sighting on the island is the Siberian Rubythroat, typically seen only on remote Japanese Sea islands. Additionally, the vibrant blue and white Ryukyu Robin perches on the school's cherry trees, while the striking black and yellow Narcissus Flycatcher can be spotted on ivy branches.


A visiting birdwatcher commented, “Tobishima wasn’t well-known before. After some research, I discovered it’s like a paradise for birds, especially small ones. That’s what I came to see.” This year, the unusually warm winter has altered bird migration patterns, with species typically seen later in the season arriving earlier. “Climate change is affecting bird behaviors and migration,” the birdwatcher added.


Birdwatching on Tobishima is best during the spring and autumn migration periods. Observation tours are held intermittently during these seasons, offering bird enthusiasts a unique opportunity to witness the island’s avian wonders.

You can check out what birds seen on the island from this bird watch report from the island (click these pdfs).


Source: Sakata city website, YBC yamagata news, Yomiuri news

You can see the sharks in Tobishima in above video by a scuba diving tour company there. 

Please noted that you need an experienced professional guide support for the shark dive.

Not only sharks but also dolphins!

Some may find the island with shark is not the most attractive place but do not worry. The island has also many dolphins visiting.

More people move to the island

Recent years we see more young people move to Tobishima island. Now you see some cafes ( Shimacahe and  Cafe Beyond Tobishima ) open.


The local also tries to revive the economy with more local things to sell. You can check the online shop of this island. 

How to get this island (maybe outdated)

By ship


From Sakata port to Tobishima island


75mins by Ferry Tobishima from Sakata port to Tobishima island

Frequency: 1-3 times a day depending on season (please make sure you have the return ship if you plan not to stay on the island)


Adult 4200JPY round trip ticket for Adult

Kid 2100JPY round trip ticket


NOTE: In the winter time it is not strange the ship is stranded and canceled due to the weather for a week or so.


Contact: Sakata city travel bureau (only PDF file for English info)

Tel: +81 234-26-5759


From JR Sakata station to the Sakata port

To get the Sakata port, it is 7 mins by car from JR Sakata station


From Tokyo to JR Sakata station

To get JR Sakata station, it is around 4 hours and 30mins from Tokyo station by Joetsu Shinkansen( bullet train ) to Niigata station and then Sakata station by Inaho express train.

Where to stay

Always great to stay on the island

On the Tobishima island, there are inns and guesthouses but as always not much online info available.


We put several examples as below:


Sawaguchi inn 

Price: 8640JPY or higher depending on the plan with two meals (adult)

Contact: +81 234-95-2246


Inn Obako 

Price: 8400JPY with two meals (adult)

Contact: +81 234-96-3036

Reservation form from here 


Oraga Beach House


Phone: 0234-96-3123

Services: Rock fishing, boat fishing, sightseeing boat (reservation required).


Chuo Ryokan

Phone: 0234-95-2036


Minato Ryokan

Phone: 0234-96-3103


Minori Inn

Phone: 0234-95-2153

Services: Rock fishing, boat fishing, sightseeing boat (reservation required).


Katsuura Inn

Phone: 0234-96-3151

Services: Rock fishing, boat fishing (reservation required).


Hatoba Inn

Phone: 0234-96-3178

Services: Boat fishing (reservation required).



Phone: 090-7067-0245



Phone: 090-1064-8393

Accommodation only. Meals require reservation.


Services: Boat fishing, sightseeing boat, breakwater fishing (reservation required).


NOTE: no camping allowed on the island unlike some islands in Japan.

Alternatively, you can stay in Sakata City, the big city nearby

In Sakata city, the biggest city nearby the island. You have more options for meals etc. in the city and more convenient for the trip next day as it connects to other major cities by trains. 


Suggested hotels based on the reputation:

Hotel Route Inn Sakata

Source: the hotel's official site

Click here to book Hotel Route-Inn Sakata 

Contact: +81 234-21-3301

Hotel inn Sakta Ekimae

Source: the hotel's official site

Click here to book Hotel Inn Sakata Ekimae 

Contact: +81 234-26-8800 


Hotel Inn Sakata

Source: the hotel's official site

Click here to book Hotel inn Sakata

Contact: +81 234-22-5000


Hotel Rich & Garden Sakata

Source: the hotel's official site

Click here to book Hotel Rich & Garden Sakata 

Contact: +81 234-26-1111



If you come across nice place to stay, please let us know!

If visiting Sakata city, do not miss...

Tamasudare water fall, Sakata Source: Sakata city office
Tamasudare water fall, Sakata Source: Sakata city office

Shonai Movie village

You can visit the movie set


Tamasudare water fall

Light decoration for some holiday seasons

Clearer than Okinawa water?

Several friends of ours who often travel to remote islands of Okinawa tipped that the sea water of Tobishima island can be clearer than in Okinawa.  Even though the island is in Yamagata, the average temperature is 12 degree or higher all year around.


What do you think? 

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Source: Sakata city travel office website, Wikipedia


Disclaimer: Even though we try to make the info as updated and accurate but the accuracy of the information herein is not guaranteed by us. If you have any uncertainty, please contact the information source.

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