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Friday, 27th November 2015
In General Japan News,

Miyakejima markets itself as top rock climbing destination

Miyakejima Island is trying to rebuild its tourism industry after the huge eruption of Mount Oyama in 2000, which saw the entire population evacuated.

The island, which is part of the Izu group and can be found to the southeast of Honshu, is using its world-class rock climbing to lure tourists back.

Prior to the eruption, some 79,000 people visited Miyakejima Island in 1999, but by 2014 the figure stood at just 34,000.

The island’s population of 3,800 was evacuated as the volcano looked likely to blow and was not allowed to return until 2005, with just 2,700 people deciding to set up home in the shadow of Mount Oyama once more.

Attracting tourists back is now a priority and a feature in a rock climbing magazine describing Miyakejima Island as “a location with undiscovered rocky stretches” gave locals an idea.

They decided to market their island as the next big rock climbing destination and have built an indoor climbing wall to reinforce this message.

It is the natural scenery created by the eruption that is the biggest draw for fans of the sport, however.

Yuichi Okiyama, who is in charge of the local free climbing group, said that people from across Japan are travelling to Miyakejima Island to experience its rock ledges.

He told the Japan Times: “The biggest appeal is that Miyake Island offers a variety of climbing options.”

Residents hope that more people will visit the island from abroad and it will become known as a great place to hold climbing competitions and training camps.

The landscape of the island may have changed irrevocably in the wake of the eruption, but locals want to rebuild their lives and welcome visitors with this potential new tourist attraction.