Discover and Explore in a UNESCO Global Geopark

Discover and Explore in a UNESCO Global Geopark

What’s a geopark, you say?
I’m glad you asked.

Did you know? The Oki Islands aren’t just a place with beautiful coastal scenery, cool shaped rocks, abundant nature, and local cultural traditions. They’re also designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Oki Islands are a beautiful island getaway, where you can immerse yourself in nature and forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a while. But if you look just a little deeper, past the instagrammable landscapes, the breeze in your hair, and the clear blue sea that seems to wash away your worries—they’re also so much more than that. The Oki Islands are a place that can help us see the history of the land we live on, and our own deep relationship with that land.

Throughout the four Oki Islands—Dōgo, Nishinoshima, Nakanoshima, and Chiburijima—there are three types of geopark sites: geosites, natural sites, and cultural sites. On-site signboards explain interesting facts about these sites which we might not notice at first glance. They also provide hints to help us understand the connections between them.

For example, in Okinoshima Town, Tsuma area, there is a row of old wooden boathouses along the coast (Funagoya Boat Houses). Although it is a cultural site, its existence is deeply connected to the shape and formation of the land and sea around it. Precisely speaking, these boathouses can only exist here because of the characteristics of the Sea of Japan.

In Ama Town, you can visit sites related to Emperor Go-Toba, who was exiled here 800 years ago. But when you visit these sites, such as Oki Shrine, you’re not just exploring history; you’re also discovering the geology and ecosystem that allowed for someone as important as an emperor to be exiled to these islands, and the unique local culture that was born from his influence here.

If you’re looking for an island adventure where you can go deeper, experiencing the Earth and its heritage and exploring our connection with it, then geoparks may just be the place for you! Certified Geopark Guides are waiting to explore with you and share their knowledge of the region.

Oki Islands Geopark Museum

Oki Islands Geopark Museum

In addition, the Oki Islands Geopark Museum (newly opened in April 2021) is a great place to start or end your trip. Located on the 2nd floor of the Oki Islands Geopark Visitor Center in Saigō Port, Okinoshima Town, the museum features an overview of the geological, natural, and cultural heritages of the Oki Islands. Finish off with the “connections” corner to bring it all back together, and you’ll see how these three aspects of the region aren’t separate at all, but are inherently intertwined.

Oki Islands Geopark Museum

The geopark works in the local community to protect the region’s heritage, spread understanding of it, and encourage sustainable development in the region in order to pass it down to future generations. Let’s enjoy this beautiful region responsibly, appreciating its value and protecting it for others to enjoy for years to come. Welcome to the Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark!


Author: Katrina Killinger

#Culture #Nature