The northernmost island of Japan's Southwest Island chain features forested mountains. Macaques and sika deer share a habitat; young monkeys ride on their neighbors. Deer eat food dropped by foraging monkeys.
Living near Sakurajima (05:41)
Volcanic activity created the Southwest Islands. Japan's most active volcano has erupted for sixty years; 500,000 people live nearby. Children wear protective helmets and clean ash from their school. Visitors take sand baths on the beach.
Kuroshio Current (05:12)
Coral reefs thrive in the warm water. A bluestreak cleaner wrasse eats parasites from a batfish and a manta ray.
Kudaka Island (05:12)
Venomous sea snakes have few natural predators in coral reefs. Yoko and Setsuko hunt them in dry land caves at night. Then they smoke the serpents, a local delicacy.
Ogimi Longevity (02:12)
Many residents of an Okinawan village credit healthy lifestyles for long lifespans. Sumiko, 96, cycles and gardens. The Okinawan diet includes homegrown vegetables.
Mozuku Aquaculture (03:45)
Around Okinawa, farmers cultivate seaweed beds and use vacuum technology for harvesting.
Iriomote Island (05:20)
Geographical isolation encourages adaptation. The Ryukyu wild boar has shrunk to half the size of mainland boar species. A pregnant female sniffs out a green turtle nest for eggs.
Tarama Island (04:18)
Blueberry hermit crabs have settled on the remote island. Giant robber crabs can live to sixty years and measure a meter in diameter. A female navigates a village and risks drowning to deposit her eggs in the ocean.
Tropical Storms (06:54)
Summer typhoons batter the Southwest Islands. Human inhabitants have built fortified homes; macaques huddle together for safety. On Yonaguni, a caterpillar builds a storm-resistant cocoon and transforms into an Atlas moth. Learn about her mating behavior.
Yonaguni Underwater Pyramid (04:08)
In 1986, a diver discovered what appeared to be a sandstone monument. Some scientists believe it was formed by natural forces; others believe it was built by a lost civilization.
Credits: Wild Japan: Southwest Islands (00:30)
Credits: Wild Japan: Southwest Islands
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