How to buy your own island in Japan

Japan is said to have over 6,852 islands, of which 430 are uninhabited. With the exception of the disputed islands, Japanese islands are typically freehold and can be purchased and sold by private individuals.

Aqua Styles is a Japanese real estate company that specializes in the sale and purchase of uninhabited islands. The company president said that private islands in Japan can be purchased anywhere from 20 ~ 500 million Yen.

Some of the factors that determine the price of an island are:

  • Size
  • Distance from the mainland
  • Access to fresh water
  • Infrastructure such as electricity, and whether these can be easily installed
  • How much of the island is flat
  • Whether it has sandy beaches
Komariyama Island, Wakayama Prefecture. Price: 150,000,000 Yen.

There are plenty of privately owned islands in the Seto Inland Sea and around Shikoku, Saga and Nagasaki.

The procedures for buying an island are the same as purchasing a regular block of land. However, the zoning will not be residential, but instead will be typically be considered mountainous and field zoning. This means the land valuation will come in a lot lower – sometimes less than 10 million Yen.

For this reason, banks will not provide mortgages on islands. For buyers who cannot pay the entire purchase price at once, there are many cases where they have made annual installments where the title to the island is not transferred until the final payment has been made.

Because of the zoning, annual fixed asset taxes are only tens of thousands of yen (several hundred USD).

While there are some island owners who have built log houses for around 30 million Yen, the majority of buyers use their islands for camping. There are also buyers with boats who purchase an island to moor their boat while they go fishing and diving.

If buying an island outright is beyond one’s budget, they may also be able to rent it from the current owner. The rent and use of the island will need to be agreed upon first, of course.

There are currently 10 Japanese islands advertised for sale on the Aqua Styles website (www.aqua-styles.com). Some of the islands include:

  • Kata Island 18,810 sqm  20,000,000 Yen
  • Urume Island 7,333 sqm  35,000,000 Yen
  • Komariyama Island 3384 sqm  150,000,000 Yen
  • Aino Island 79,149 sqm  400,000,000 Yen
  • Kuru Island 100,834 sqm  500,000,000 Yen
Kata Island, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Price: 20,000,000 Yen (260,000 USD).

Sources:
Web R25, November 29, 2010.
Aqua Styles (www.aqua-styles.com)

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