Amami (Naze), Amami Oshima, Japan

Largest of the Satsunan island chain located between Kyushu and Okinawa, Amami Oshima

is blessed with long, white-sand beaches and a pleasant, subtropical climate. Coral reefs ring the island’s coast, and its lush interior is home to both the protected Kuroshio no Mori Mangrove Park — Japan’s second-largest mangrove forest — and Kinsakubaru Virgin Forest, dense with massive Cyathea leifera or flying spider-monkey tree ferns left untouched since primeval times. Amami Oshima and its neighbors gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2021 for such rich biodiversity, which also includes numerous endemic fauna species — most notably the Ryukyu or Amami black rabbit. Amami Oshima is famous for its Keihan chicken rice dish, which dates from the Edo period, as well as its unique method for dying and weaving the revered oshima tsumugi silk. Amami, the island’s main city, is still referred to locally as Naze, the original village and port.