Common species

Humpback whale, spinner dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, sperm whale.

Other species confirmed

Spotted dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, etc.

Totally about 20 species (including ones listed as common species)

Season

  • Humpback whale: February – April.
  • Spinner dolphin & bottolenose dolphin: through the year.
  • Sperm whale: mainly summer – autumn

Travel Information

The Ogasawara Islands is an archipelago of about 30 small rocky islands.

Only 2 of the islands are inhabited: Chichi-jima, about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, and Haha-jima, 50 kilometers farther south. The population is about 2,300 totally. The climate is subtropical, the average temperature varies from 17.7℃ (Feb.) to 27.6℃ (Aug.).

Access to Chichi-jima is via the 131 m, 6679 t, Ogasawara-maru from Tokyo. There are no airports on the islands. The 25-hour cruise from Tokyo departs 4-6 times per month. Cost ranges from 22,570 to 56,490 (one way).

Contact:

Ogasawara Kaiun K.K.

Asahi Bldg., 5-29-19 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0014, Japan

Ph. +81(Japan)-3-3451-5171

There are 42 inns on Chichi-jima and 12 on Haha-jima, costing about 6,500 – 8,000 for a single with 2 meals. For general tourism information, contact:

Ogasawara Tourist Association

Chichi-jima, Ogasawara-mura, Tokyo, 100-2101, Japan

Ph. +81(Japan)-4998-2-2587 Fax. +81(Japan)-4998-2-3555

Whale watching

Humpback whale watching: Ogasawara kept above 90% success rates for watching humpback whales by boats last several years. Scheduled whale watching trips, 2 to 6 hours each, are offered daily, and charters any time. The types of boats are various; diving boats, pleasure boarts and commercial/sports fishing boats. Capacities of those boats are from 12 to 30. 2 hour-trip charges 4,000 (2,000 for age 6-12), and 6 hour-trip charges from 8,000 to 10,000. There are 11 boats on Chichi-jima and 4 boats on Haha-jima , which are members of Ogasawara Whale Watching Association (OWA).

Dolphin watch and swim: Dolphin watching and swimming tours for bottlenose dolphin / spinner dolphin are operated through the year by small pleasure boats which carry about 5 – 30 watchers. 8 hour-trip charges from 7,000 to 15,000. June-October is the best season.

Sperm whale watch: Sperm whale watching are operated oppotunely from spring to late autumn by small pleasure boats which carry about 5 – 30 watchers. 8 hour-trip charges from 8,000 to 12,000. late August – October is the best season.

Whale lookouts

There are good whale lookouts to see humpback whales from February to April by land. It is easy and comfortable for watchers, no need to worry about getting wet or seasick. Recommend to use 7-8 power binoculars (rental available at OWA, 300 / each).

What is OWA ?

Ogasawara Whale Watching Association (OWA) was established in March 1989 to help manage and regulate whale watching, and to operate as an information center. OWA has about members who have interest in whale watching, boat operators , owner of tourism businesses, or simply fans of whales. And about 300 whale fans out of islands are also the general members who receive a newsletter and discounts for their 3,000 annual fee (500 to join). Contact:

Ogasawara Whale Watching Association

Chichi-jima, Ogasawara-mura, Tokyo, 100-2101, Japan

Ph. +81(Japan)-4998-2-3215 Fax. +81(Japan)-4998-2-3500

Research

The research projects have been conducted by OWA, funded by the local government and others. The distribution, migration, reproduction, stock identification, and population estimate studies have been carried out for the humpback whales and sperm whales. The movement and school structure studies have been practiced for the bottlenose dolphin. The studies of cetacean fauna of Ogasawara have been also conducted.

Rules

OWA has established its own voluntary rule in 1989 (revised in 1992 and 1997). It requires small boats which weigh less than 20 gross ton to obey the following activities in all areas within 20 miles off the islands for the large whales (baleen whales and sperm whales) :

  • A whale watching boat must slow down within 300m of whales.
  • Do not violate the normal behavior of whales.
  • A whale watching boat must not approach within 100m of humpback whales and 50m of sperm whales.

Larger boats are required more severe rules. And an aircraft is restricted not to approach within 300m of whales.

Educational programs and museums

During the humpback whale watching season, the gathering for land based whale watching and free lecture is held by OWA each evening on the day the ferryboat arrives. The slidefilm show and lecture is also held by OWA at night on the spring and summer vacation season. They give basic knowledge about whales and Ogasawara Islands to deepen whale watching experinces.

There is no museum which specially exhibits materials related with whales. But several institutions like, Ogasawara Marine Center and Rohsu Memorial Hall, have materials to help learning about whales and history of whaling operated in Ogasawara. OWA’s office has a small reading room where visitors can read books related to cetaceans and watch video tapes.