I have recently returned from an exceedingly fruitful trip to Japan, where I attended the 9th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Okinawa and dived both Izu Peninsula and Hachijo-jima.
Having initially spent a week in Okinawa, attending the conference I spent a week exploring Izu Peninsula organised by Kiki Diving Club, which are based in Nakano, Tokyo. I visited a few different areas, the first being Arari Dive Centre on the west coast of Izu. This was a great spot for muck diving. I saw many Japanese pygmy pipehorses, tube blennies and nine different frogfish!
After Arari we headed to Osezaki, also on the west coast, and dived with Hamayuu Dive Centre for a couple of days. I particularly liked the outside of the bay, where deepwater currents make for interesting diving beyond the 30m mark. Here we saw small schools of Cherry (Sacura margaritacea) and striped anthias (Pseudanthias fasciatus), both found only in deep water. Inside Osezaki bay is a proper muck dive, and very protected from currents and big seas. It is also a very popular site for learner divers and there can apparently be 100’s of divers at the weekend, which I avoided like the plague!
Finally, Shingo (owner of Kiki Diving Club) and I visited Izu Oceanic Park on the east coast of the Izu peninsula. This is also a popular site and the critters’ locations are well known to the management. They passed on the info and we succeeded in finding a few frogfish and some Japanese endemics. Unfortunately the swell picked up making entry/exit a bit of a nightmare, especially with a massive camera, so we just did two dives.
After Izu I headed, with a friend, to Hachijo-jima, an island nearly 300 kilometres south of Tokyo. The diving was outstanding and thanks to Tanaka-san and Ogino-san of Concolor Diving I saw everything I had on my wish list. The very top of the list was the undescribed Japanese pygmy seahorse, of which I ended up seeing thirteen!
We experienced some unseasonably cold water, at around 19˚C, which made some of the dives a little chilly! By the end of the week though the water was back to normal and I’m informed a few days after it was back to the expected 28˚C, after the Kuroshio current shifted back to its rightful place.
All in all, my first experience of Japanese diving was exceptional, and I’m keen to get back there and explore a little more of what the country has to offer.