Engetsu Island in Japan: The Tiny Island with a Hole

Engetsu Island is a tiny island off the coast of Shirahama in Japan that’s known for its circular natural archway, which frames the setting sun beautifully at certain times of the year.

Engetsu Island

When we visited Engetsu Island, we weren’t expecting it to be much. But seeing it in pictures doesn’t provide much context for how cool it is to see it in person.

It is so iconic that it is the official symbol of Shirahama, and you’ll find it featured on signs and pictures throughout the city.

We visited Engetsu Island during our camper van trip around Japan to watch the sunset and take some photos, which we’ll share here including our tips on how to get there and the best time to visit.

Engetsu Island Details

Engetsu Island means “full moon” in Japanese, due to its round, full moon-shaped hole that goes through it. The hole was created by erosion from the sea, which formed a natural archway.

How to Get to Engetsu Island

Engetsu Island is located off the coast of Shirahama in Wakayama prefecture in Japan.

To get to the best viewpoint for Engetsu Island, navigate to Engetsutotenbo Parking Lot. From there, you can walk across the road and get a nice view of Engetsu Island. There are a few staircases that go down to the coast from the roadside. From the coast, you can walk on the rocks and get an unobstructed view of Engetsu Island.

If you want to capture a photo of the sun setting behind Engetsu Island, then head down the street to this parking area on the side of the road. From there, you’ll be able to witness the sunset behind Engetsu Island during the spring and autumn. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a clear day, the sun will set right through the hole in the island.

Unfortunately, visiting Engetsu Island itself is forbidden since its stone archway is unstable and may collapse at any moment.

Best Time to Visit Engetsu Island

The best time to visit the Engetsu Island viewpoint is spring or autumn for sunset. During sunset, you have a chance to witness the sun setting underneath the archway on the island, right inside the hole in the island.

If you’d rather get a cool shot of the landscape of Engetsu Island, then sunrise is the best time to visit since the sun will shine on the island so you can get a colorful, detailed photo.

Our Experience at Engetsu Island

Engetsu Island was our first stop in Shirahama during our camper van trip around Japan in April 2024.

The viewpoint for Engetsu Island is right on the side of the road. There are two different places where you can park and get out of your car to see Engetsu Island. The first one is a parking lot, and the other one is a pull-over area on the side of the road.

When we first got to the viewpoint, we parked in the parking lot and walked across the road to check out the island. The coastline around this area is reinforced with concrete barriers that you can walk on to get a better view.

The road also has staircases so you can walk down to the coast. The rocky coastline is a great place to get a view of the island when the ocean is calm.

We got to the Engetsu Island viewpoint in the late afternoon, and originally only intended to stay there for a little while to take a few pictures then leave. However, as time went on, we realized that the sun was starting to set behind the island, and we might be able to capture it set through the hole in the island! This only happens during the spring and autumn.

Unfortunately, the sun set behind the clouds, so we weren’t able to witness the phenomenon. However, we did capture some cool photos of the sun above the island, which I think look almost just as cool with the rays of light going through the hole and scattering over the sea.

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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