Sailing into Futami Port on the island of Chichijima, a full 24 hours after departing Tokyo, feels akin to Dorothy waking up in Oz: Something says “this isn’t Japan anymore” — except that, technically, it is.

Despite being 1,000 kilometers south of the capital, the Ogasawara Islands come under Tokyo’s administration and the atmosphere could not be more different. Having never been connected to the mainland, the flora and fauna here is unlike that anywhere else in the world, so much so that UNESCO made the Ogasawara Islands a World Heritage site in 2011. And though the archipelago consists of over 30 islands, only two — Chichijima and Hahajima — are inhabited.

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