- Amami Oshima — the largest island in both area and population
In addition, the Tokara Islands just to the north of Amami are sometimes lumped in with the Amami Islands.
Flights to and around the Amami Islands are the monopoly of Japan Airways (JAL) and its affiliates JTA and RAC. Amami Oshima is the main hub for flights, with direct flights to Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka-Itami, Kagoshima and Naha. Kikai, Okinoerabujima, Tokunoshima and Yoron have small airports with service to Amami and Kagoshima only.
The Amami Islands are served the cozy duopoly of A-Line Ferry , aka Maru-A (マルエー) and Marix Line , both of which run between Kagoshima (Kyushu) and Naha (Okinawa) via the islands on alternating days. Fares on both are identical, with a one-way Kagoshima-Amami Oshima trip (11 hours) costing ¥8,800 in 2nd class (二等), or ¥9300 from Naha (13 hours). The exact schedules are complicated and change from day to day, but the main ports served, from north to south, are:
- Naze (名瀬) on Amami Oshima, served by all ferries
- Kitoku (亀徳) on Tokunoshima, served by some ferries
- Wadomari (和泊) on Okinoerabujima, served by some ferries
- Yoron (与論), served by almost all ferries
In addition, A-Line runs a service from Kagoshima via Naze that serves one extra island and some additional ports:
All roads lead to Yanigawa, a street that runs away from the main port in Naze-shi (Naze City). Like all Japanese small towns it is an irreverant mix of live house (naff attempt at a modern bar), izakaya and snack bars. The mood here is much more reserved than in other larger centres and the younger crowd and salarymen alike enjoy over 100 different hole in the wall venues.
Westerners are a novelty here (still) and you a guaranteed a good night out on the local Shochu (which is made from sugar cane)
- Tokara Islands, if Amami feels too overcrowded and frantic
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