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Five Luxury Resort Stays on Japan's Remote Islands

2024-05-31

If you’re looking to get an island vacation far away from the crowds, look no further. Japan actually contains over 14,000 islands — though only around 400 are inhabited. Some islands draw in millions of tourists annually, but others are far less populated, even in the peak of travel season.

Luckily, just because an island isn’t overpopulated with visitors doesn’t mean infrastructure’s lacking. You can find luxury resort stays on some of Japan’s secluded islands, creating the perfect intersection of indulgence and tranquility.

Here are five great luxury resorts on Japan’s remote islands. 

 

1. Iki Retreat Kairi Murakami by Onko Chishin (Iki Island, Nagasaki)

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Many people don’t know about Iki Island, a beach getaway in Nagasaki. You can get to this unspoiled island paradise with just a 30-minute plane ride from Nagasaki Airport or a 60-minute high-speed boat from Fukuoka’s Hakata Port. The beaches here have powdery white sand and crystal blue waters offering plenty of water sports opportunities.

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Iki Island is said to be the fifth island ever created in Japan and was first mentioned in Chinese history books around 2,000 years ago. Walking around, you’ll come across 150 distinct shrines — a result of the mystical energy that’s said to flow throughout the island. If you’re curious, there are archaeological sites where you can see the ancient history of Iki Island, from a tomb dating back to the mid-sixth century to the remains of Japan’s oldest port.

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At the heart of Iki Island lies the exquisite Iki Retreat Kairi Murakami by Onko Chishin. Recognized in the Michelin Guide as “the only five-star ryokan on a remote island”, this hotel is a haven of luxury. Each room boasts an open-air bath filled with natural hot spring water and a beautiful ocean view. Dining here is a culinary journey, with every dish crafted from fresh, local ingredients and traditional flavors.  

 

2. Hotel Oosado (Sado Island, Niigata)

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Sado Island is one of the less-traveled islands. Located off the coast of Niigata, it was historically used as a place for political exile because of its remote location. The most prominent figures exiled to Sado Island included a former emperor and the founder of Noh Theater. Though the island is no longer used for exile, the influence of these former residents remains in the island’s culture today.

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One of the most captivating sites on this island is the Iwayayama Grotto, a Jomon-era cave that revealed artifacts from people who lived there 8,000 years ago. The thrill of discovery is further heightened by the gold and silver mines, which attracted people from all corners of Japan during the Edo period to develop the land. For nature enthusiasts, the island offers a plethora of hiking trails through forests, mountains, and flower fields, promising an adventure at every turn.

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As for the local luxury stay, you’ll be spoiled by Hotel Oosado. This hot spring hotel blends traditional Japanese design with a modern, sleek twist for a refined, sophisticated feel. The open-air bath looks over the Japan Sea, making for a breathtaking view while you relax and soak in the mineral-rich water. It’s the perfect spot for watching the sunset — or, if you’re lucky with your timing, the annual fireworks show in summer.

 

3. Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima (Yakushima, Kagoshima)

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Yakushima, an island located in Kagoshima, is known to be one of the greenest areas in all of Japan. Famed animator Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli is said to have gotten his inspiration for Princess Mononoke from this very island.

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Though it has its fair share of sandy beaches (as expected on any island), what’s more surprising is the verdant mossy forests that take up most of the area. Some of the oldest trees in Japan can be found on this island, including the world-famous Jomon Sugi, a Japanese cedar tree that is said to be three to seven thousand years old.

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When it comes to accommodation, Yakushima offers quite a range. From budget hostels to high-end hotels, visitors can take their pick. If you want to splurge on an unforgettable, luxurious stay, consider Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima. Nestled on a hill at the foot of the mountains, this beautiful hotel overlooks the sea on the island’s southeastern side.

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Here, you’ll find utter privacy and serenity. The hotel’s name comes from Sanskrit, meaning “blessings from heaven” — a namesake that evokes the hotel’s philosophy of top-notch service and sophistication. With an outdoor pool, full-service spa, and two restaurants on site, you’ll have every need catered to throughout your stay.

 

4. Marissa Resort Sazanseto Suo-Oshima (Suo-Oshima, Yamaguchi)

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The Seto Inland Sea contains many islands, one of which is Suo Oshima. Though you’d never guess today, this island was overpopulated back in the Edo Period. When worker demand for Hawaii grew in the late 1800s, over 4,000 people on Suo Oshima moved there to find peace.

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Today, Suo Oshima offers an off-the-beaten-track feel with fewer tourists than its neighboring Setouchi islands. It is beloved for its beautiful beaches, laid-back culture, and fresh produce — which has earned it the title of “Mikan Island” for producing 80% of the prefecture’s mikan oranges.

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Marissa Resort Sazanseto Suo-Oshima will certainly treat you to an unforgettable retreat. With a hot spring bath, free bath additives, an outdoor infinity lagoon, and plenty of outdoor spaces to relax in, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to put your mind at ease.

 

5. Seawood Hotel (Miyakojima, Okinawa)

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Miyakojima is a part of Okinawa, a prefecture known to have some of the best beaches in the world. As the fourth largest island in Okinawa, Miyakojima has white sand beaches, coral reefs, and year-round warm weather.

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Snorkeling and scuba diving are definitely highlights here, as there are countless tropical fish and sea turtles to be seen. Miyakojima is also connected to three other smaller neighboring islands by convenient bridges, so you can go island hopping.

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The luxurious Seawood Hotel is the place to be for those looking for an upscale resort. With a total of 169 guest rooms, you can choose between your own private villa house — each with a private pool or jet bath — or a more classic hotel room in the separate Shuri House building.

 

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