The Amami Islands are a thriving ecosystem made up of a diverse array of natural environments and are the habitat of many rare, endemic plant and animal species. Furthermore, a distinctive cultural landscape, which developed from the long relationship between the islanders and nature, can still be found across the islands today. In Amamigunto National Park you can experience both the unique natural wonders on each island and the history and culture of a place where humans and nature have long led an interwoven existence.
Amamigunto National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
The islands can be divided into two types, depending on the way they were formed. Each island type differs significantly in the kinds of plants, animals and landscape that can be found there.
With historical influences from the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Satsuma domain, a colorful traditional culture developed on the Amami Islands; this is characterized by various indigenous performing arts, religious traditions, and a unique view of nature. Examples of the islands' local culture include shimauta folk music; hachigatsu odori (a folk dance performed during August of the lunar calendar); and the Honensai Harvest Festival.
Here visitors can walk nature paths through the subtropical, evergreen and broad-leaved forest stopping at wooded viewing platforms along the way. Observing wild birds such the Amami jay (Garrulus lidthi) and the Ryukyu robin (Erithacus komadori) is possible. The viewing platforms also offer splendid views of Tatsugo Bay's azure ocean waters and the beautiful forest scenery.
The Kinsakubaru Native Forest is considered the quintessential woodland of Amami Oshima Island. Tree species such as the Castanopsis sieboldii of the beech family, Schima wallichii of the camellia family, and Machilus thunbergii of the laurel family dominate the canopy. The trees of the evergreen, broad-leaved forest envelope the woodland paths and captivating flora such as flying spider-monkey tree ferns are visible.
Hyakunodai Observatory is an uplifted coral reef that rises 200 meters above sea level in the center of Kikaijima Island. From the viewing platform in Hyakunodai Park, you get a panoramic view of the sea and its coral reef, the island villages nestled in their surrounding fields, and the forest-covered terraced terrain that illustrates how the island formed.
This impressive limestone cave, discovered in 1963, is 3,500 m long. A 600-meter stretch is open to the public, with stalactites adorning the entire cavern. The cave sparkles beautifully when light shines upon the walls.