When most people think about Tokyo, they envision the hustle and bustle of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, the neon lights of Akihabara, or the towering skyscrapers of Shinjuku. But Tokyo is so much more than the mainland metropolis that first springs to mind, and its reach stretches to incorporate far more than you might think, surprising even long-term residents of the capital.
Some of these lesser-known locations that fall within the bounds of Tokyo are the Izu and Ogasawara Islands. This archipelago, often collectively referred to as the Tokyo Islands, incredibly consists of over 200 individual islands of varying sizes, many of which feature scenery that rivals even the more famous tropical locations of southern prefectures such as Okinawa.
Being completely disconnected from mainland Japan, the Tokyo Islands are home to their own range of nature, wildlife and even weather that is unique to each location. This includes Miyakejima, an island formed by volcanic eruptions that today has more than 250 species of wild birds; Mikurajima, which abounds with untamed nature and is home to dolphins that can be seen swimming around the island; and Hachijojima, a tropical island known for great food and an average annual temperature of 18 degrees Celsius that sees the climate referred to as an eternal spring.
Being situated in the ocean off the coast of Japan, access to the Tokyo Islands can only be made via air and sea, meaning some planning is required for those wishing to immerse themselves in these tropical oases. Thankfully, the best of these remote locations have been brought to the mainland and made available to the public at the antenna shop Tokyo Islands, a one-of-a-kind outlet brimming with specialty products made throughout the Tokyo Islands.
Buying the Best of the Tokyo Islands
Taking advantage of the unique nature and landscapes found across the islands of Tokyomany of the products found at Tokyo Islands use ingredients that are seldom found anywhere else in Japan, with a range that includes everything from unique snacks and cooking ingredients to alcohol and beauty products.
One such ingredient is the camellias of Oshima and Toshima. A vibrant flower of crimson, pink and white, camellias are found in abundance on these islands and have a long and storied history throughout Japan, used not only as the focal point of kimono designs but also in the form of camellia oil, which is today available at Tokyo Islands and serves a variety of uses. Extracted from the seeds of the camellia flower, the camellia oil was sold at Tokyo Islands is available in the form of beauty products such as moisturizers, hand cream and soap, as well as a high-quality cooking oil perfect for cooking golden tempura and other dishes.
Translating to “tomorrow’s leaf” in English, another natural resource of the Tokyo archipelago is ashitaba, a flowering plant native to Japan that serves a variety of uses. Believed to have anti-aging properties and health benefits, ashitaba is included in a number of premium products at Tokyo Islands, giving anyone new to this traditional ingredient plenty of ways to enjoy it. With a slightly bitter taste similar to that of matcha, ashitaba is available in sweet snacks such as chocolate, as well as more traditional options such as tea, miso soup, or senbei. The variety and bright packaging of these ashitaba-infused treats also makes them a great option as souvenirs for family, friends and colleagues.
Of course, no antenna shop in Japan would be complete without a range of alcohol that reflects the nature of the surrounding region. Delivering this primarily through a unique range of shochu that makes use of the common island crop of sweet potato, Tokyo Islands stocks a number of island-brewed liquors, many of which are a rare sight in the mainland part of Tokyo. Catering to those who prefer their drinks a little sweeter, Tokyo Islands also stocks a range of chuhai crafts from the Ogasawara Islands. These fruit-infused drinks are available in flavors such as lemon and passionfruit and create the perfect sweet entry to the liquor of the Tokyo archipelago. This variety of alcoholic drinks pairs perfectly with kusaya, a local delicacy also on offer at the shop.
All of this is just the beginning of the rare island goods on offer at Tokyo Islands. With an incredible selection including everything from fermented seafood snacks, chili oils and even curries that draw from the naturally abundant ingredients of the Tokyo archipelagothere’s something to suit all styles and tastes at Tokyo Islands.