This Japanese Island Is One Of The Most Dangerous Places On Earth

Japan is known and loved for its versatility. Some tourists visit the country's cultural capital, Kyoto, for its rich, Zen-like traditionalism, flocking to its Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and manicured gardens. Others head straight for the country's official capital, Tokyo, for its forward-thinking innovations, soaking in the bright lights, arcade games, and Harajuku fashions. But somewhere off Japan's beaten track is a place that is largely avoided by tourists and Japanese residents alike — and for good reason.

Miyake-jima is one island in the Izu Islands archipelago, which lies a little over 110 miles south of Tokyo, according to India Today, and is home to approximately 2,884 inhabitants. But Miyake-jima is known — and often avoided — for its uninhabitable, and potentially deadly, conditions. Here are the unsettling elements of the Japanese island that, unlike much of the country, is not quite the stress-free vacation destination many travelers crave.

Miyake-jima is home to poisonous gasses and active volcanoes

The land that makes up the island of Miyake-jima rests on top of an active chain of volcanoes that has erupted six times in the last 100 years, as noted by Atlas Obscura. In 2000, the island's Mount Oyama erupted as a result of 17,500 earthquakes that took place between June 26 and July 21 of that year, as reported by India Today. A mass evacuation of over 3,600 people ensued, and for over eight years following the eruption, no flights were permitted into the area due to the high levels of poisonous gasses, particularly sulfur, that were leaking up from the ground. Five years after the eruption, Miyake-jima residents were allowed to return to the island if they really wanted to, but they had to carry gas masks at all times to protect themselves from toxicity.

As dangerous and dystopian as the island may sound, it's not all gas masks and natural disasters. Tourists can visit the island by boat or by taking a helicopter from Tokyo — and some do, often with the hopes of seeing dolphins while scuba-diving. It seems that, for some determined souls, the potential rewards of Miyake-jima outweigh its significant risks.