Common species

Humpback whale, spinner dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, and sperm whale

Other species confirmed

Spotted dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, etc

Totally about 24 species (including ones listed as common species)


  • Humpback whale: February – April.
  • Spinner dolphin & bottlenose dolphin: throughout 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 24-hour cruise from Tokyo departs 4-6 times per month. Cost ranges from 22,570 to 56,490 (one way).


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 boats and commercial/sports fishing boats. Capacities of those boats are from 12 to 30. 3 hour-trip charges 4,000 (2,000 for age 6-12), and 6 hour-trip charges from 9,500 to 14,000. There are 15 boats on Chichi-jima and 1 boat on Haha-jima, which are members of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association (OWA).

Dolphin watch and swim: Dolphin watching and swimming tours for bottlenose dolphins / spinner dolphins 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 watching: Sperm whale watching is operated opportunely from early summer 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 interests in whale watching, boat operators, owners 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 fees (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


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.


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

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

Learn more about the voluntary whale watching rules in Ogasawara >

In addition, the following guidelines have been established for small unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) flights near cetaceans in 2022:

  • The drone shall not approach a group of cetaceans being watched nor a whale watching vessel actively watching whales.
  • The drone may not approach cetaceans from the direction they are moving toward.
  • If the drone’s approach is seen to cause a change in the behavior of the target cetaceans or other wild animals, the flight must end immediately.

Learn more about the guidelines for flying drones near whales and dolphins in Ogasawara >


▼ A digital guidebook


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 slide film show and lecture are also held by OWA at night on the spring and summer vacation season. They give basic knowledge about whales and the Ogasawara Islands to deepen whale watching experiences.

There is no museum which especially exhibits materials related to whales. But several institutions like Ogasawara Marine Center and Rohsu Memorial Hall, have materials to help to learn 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 videotapes.