Engetsu Island   円月島

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Engetsu-to, Shirahama, Wakayama

Engetsu island

Engetsu island at sunset

Engetsu-to, Wakayama

Engetsu-to, Wakayama

The island of the full moon

Engetsu Island (Engetsu-to) is located in Rinkai Bay, Nanki Shirahama, off the Shirahama Coast in Wakayama Prefecture. It is famous for its natural arch that forms a nearly perfect circle in the center of a rock formation.

Engetsu-to ("the island of the full moon") is officially called Takashima.

The island of the full moon

Engetsu-to is a rock formation, consisting mostly of sandstone and sand, that is approximately 130 meters from north to south and 35 meters from east to west. Its highest point is about 25 meters. Its natural arch that forms an almost perfect circle in its center has earned it the nickname of 'full moon island'.

A Stunning Sunset

Small but remarkable, Engetsu-to has earned itself three prestigious titles: as a "Scenic landscape of Japan", "One of the 100 best places in Japan to watch the sunset", and "One of the 100 best places for the sunrise and sunset in Wakayama Prefecture".

In summer and winter, the sun sets over the sea, just behind the natural circle of the "full moon", forming a breathtaking landscape that large numbers of visitors and photographers come from Shirahama beach to see. The best time to see the sunset is around 18:30 in summer and 16:30 in winter.

A threatened landscape

Uninhabited, Engetsu-to itself cannot be visited, but is instead admired from the Shirahama coast or by taking a boat trip. Erosion due to winds and waves, increasingly violent in recent years, has caused falling rocks, and since July 2009 the government of Shirahama city has prohibited approaching of the island without special authorization due to the risk of the arch collapsing - this wonder of nature may disappear forever.

Read also: Parks around Kanazawa

On the waves

The best way to get to the island is to take a glass bottom boat tour, which also allows you to enjoy the clear waters of the Pacific and admire the fish, coral and other marine creatures like octopus, cuttlefish, or sea urchins (echinus). Boats leave from Rinkai to Shirahama and sail to the island twice an hour between 9am and 4pm. The tour lasts about 25 minutes. The price is 1,500 yen (about $13.50) for adults and 750 yen ($6.80) for children.

Engetsu Island in winter

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