So-called power spots — sacred places of natural beauty said to emit or possess healing energies — are popular sightseeing destinations in Japan. Whether you’re superstitious or not, there is no denying the soothing and almost spiritual calm we get from visiting areas of untouched nature. Here are some of Japan’s island-based spots purported to have special powers. 

Kagamijima, Tokushima Prefecture

This tiny heart-shaped island — it only measures 100 meters in circumference — lies in the Uchino Sea between Tokushima’s Shimada and Oge islands. Its love-inspired shape was only recently confirmed through drone footage from above, though locals have apparently known about it for some time. The island is said to be a residence of the gods, and its sacred status means that it’s not only uninhabited but people are also not allowed to set foot on its shores. The only exception is when priests perform a Shinto ceremony there once a year. You can see the island from several locations around Naruto City, but the best spot is from the Naruto Skyline Yomomi Observation Deck. Alas, you won’t be able to see the complete heart shape from here either, but there are plans in the works to allow visitors to get closer to this romantic island in the sea.

Kagamijima is not the only heart-shaped island in Japan. Yamaguchi Prefecture boasts Iwaishima, a small inhabited island in the Suonada Sea known for its cherry blossoms, steep hills and decorative stone walls. Closer to Tokushima, Hiroshima Prefecture’s Koshibajima shares the same shape but like Kagamijima, is uninhabited and inaccessible to the general public. 

Heart Rock, Kagoshima Prefecture

This tidal pool on Amami Oshima only reveals itself at low tide, beckoning visitors to get up close and gaze into its crystal-clear depths. You’ll find it in Tatsugo Town, on the north-eastern side of the island. It’s said that it emits a mystical energy that strengthens love, so it’s popular with visiting couples. To get here, you’ll have to make your way through a winding tunnel of tropical trees before hitting the pristine white sands of Bira Beach. From there, it’s just a short walk to the edge of the water, where you can climb over the rocks — taking care not to slip — to see the tidal pool of love yourself.  

Heart Rocks, Okinawa Prefecture

On Okinawa’s Kourijijma you’ll think you’re seeing double as you approach not one but two heart-shaped rocks standing on the shore of the island’s Tinu Beach. These two geological anomalies are one reason Kourijima is nicknamed “Love Island.” The other reason is that this area is tied with a legend about the origin of two ancestral humans — think something along lines of Adam and Eve — who were said to dwell in a cave on Chinugu Beach. 

Byobu-iwa, Shimane Prefecture

The Oki Islands group, found off the coast of Shimane, is home to another power spot with connections to new beginnings. The Akiya Coast is filled with sea caves and cliffs, and craggy rock structures jutting out of the ocean — the result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Byobu-iwa, or, as it is most commonly known, Heart Rock, has a hollowed-out hole in its middle, shaped by thousands of years of erosion from crashing waves and strong winds. This coast is said to be where goddess Hinamajihime no Mikoto of Nishinoshima gave birth to Princess Yanai (also known as Nabirahime). The mother threw out the washbasin and the screen that kept peering eyes away, and they landed in the sea, becoming Tarai-iwa and Byobu-iwa respectively. The area’s name, Akiya, comes from the custom of purifying a home after giving birth and references that a new start has dawned.

Wilson’s Stump, Kagoshima Prefecture

Although most of the natural hearts in this list are made of rock, Kagoshima Prefecture’s mystical Yakushima offers an alternative view in the unfathomable depths of its ancient cedar forests. Among the millennium-old trees you’ll find the remains of a magnificent cedar tree, with a cavity where you can climb inside. From there looking up, you’ll see the bright outline of a heart made from old roots and wood, with a canopy of leaves fluttering up above. While this particular method of obtaining luck in love may seem a little bit too contemporary, it’s said that if you take a picture of this shape with your cell phone, your chances of romantic success will increase. 


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