Dotted across the Philippine Sea lie a smattering of islands, stretching down southwards from Tokyo. Aogashima is the last isle that people call home in this far-flung archipelago: the few outcrops that can be found south of its sinister shores are unoccupied. And even though Aogashima looks like a paradise, few are courageous enough to reside there – or even visit for more than a day or so.
At first glance, though, Aogashima appears to be idyllic. Much of it is carpeted with verdant greenery, for instance, and the curious crater that dominates the isle also teems with jungle. Azure seas lap against the dramatic cliffs that encircle most of Aogashima, but the waves are particularly fearsome here. They frequently whip up into frenzied storms, in fact, that can make leaving the island by boat impossible for days on end.
Still, why would anyone need to flee this lush sanctuary? Well, the answer lies along one of Aogashima’s walking routes. Once part of the island’s principal road, the route has now fallen into disrepair: it’s crumbling and overgrown, with jungle crowding the walkway. The path winds its way down into Aogashima’s central crater.