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Kuchinoshima (口之島), literally "mouth island", is one of the Tokara Islands, belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture. The island, 13.33 km² in area, and has a population of 140 persons.[1] The island can only be reached by boat as it has no airport, there are regular ferry service to the city of Kagoshima on the mainland. Travel time is about 6 hours. The islanders are dependent mainly on agriculture, fishing and seasonal tourism. The island is home to the rare Kuchinoshima breed of Japanese native cattle.

Native name:
Japanese: 口之島
LocationEast China Sea
Coordinates29°58′0″N 129°55′0″E / 29.96667°N 129.91667°E / 29.96667; 129.91667
ArchipelagoTokara Islands
Area13.33 km2 (5.15 sq mi)
Coastline20.38 km (12.664 mi)
Highest elevation628.5 m (2,062 ft)
Highest pointMaedake
Kagoshima Prefecture
Population140 (2004)
Ethnic groupsJapanese



Kuchinoshima is the northernmost inhabited island in the Tokara archipelago, and is located 10 kilometres (5.4 nmi) northeast from Nakanoshima. The highest elevation is Maedake (前岳) located in the eastern part of the island, with a height of 628.5 metres (2,062 ft) above sea level. Maedake, Moedake (燃岳) in the northern part of the island at 425 metres (1,394 ft), and Yokodake (横岳) in the western part of the island at 500 metres (1,600 ft), are the three volcanos which make up the island. Although there has been no eruption recorded in historical times, Moedake emits steam, and discoloration of the ocean in nearby waters in 2001 indicates ongoing volcanic activity. The local climate is classified as subtropical, with a rainy season from May through September.


The island was once part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. During the Edo period, Kuchinoshima was part of Satsuma Domain and was administered as part of Kawanabe District. In 1896, the island was transferred to the administrative control of Ōshima District, Kagoshima, and from 1911 was administered as part of the village of Toshima, Kagoshima. From 1946 to 1952, the island was administered by the United States as part of the Provisional Government of Northern Ryukyu Islands.

The island is home to a small and critically-endangered population of feral cattle, the Kuchinoshima (Kuchinoshima-Ushi) breed, which – with the Mishima breed – is one of two remaining breeds of Japanese native cattle.[2][3][4] Kuchinoshima cattle is not the only feral cattle in Japan as there is a small group of feral cattle on Kazura Island next to Naru Island.[5]


  1. ^ 人口 (PDF) (in Japanese). Tokara Village. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  2. ^ Breed data sheet: Kuchinoshima/Japan. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed January 2017.
  3. ^ [National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences] (2005). Country Report: Japan, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.
  4. ^ Kuchinoshima-Ushi. NODAI Genome Research Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture. Accessed January 2017.
  5. ^ 葛島(野生化した和牛のいる島)
  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA). Prostar Sailing Directions 2005 Japan En route. Prostar Publications (2005). ISBN 1577856511

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