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It's probably not the best idea to try to get to the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands. But every time I see a photo, I can't help but think how picturesque and pristine the islands seem:

AP photo of Senkaku Islands

(The Guardian via the AP)

Were these islands ever a tourist destination? Is it totally unrealistic to try to reach these islands now?

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Yes, it is totally unrealistic. It is constantly patrolled by the Japanese and Chinese coastguard, and the last thing they want is a tourist wandering in and accidentally starting a war. –  Pitarou Jan 7 at 2:03
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1 Answer

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Was it ever a tourist destination? Not known for it, no.

Generally tourism requires some infrastructure and base population to support it. The islands consist of five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks.

This is not to say that people haven't lived there or tried to occupy in the past. They've been used at various stages as:

  • fishing islands
  • a fish processing plant was built for over 200 workers (circa 1900)
  • this business failed and the islands have been uninhabited since
  • US government occupation in 1945, although after handing to the Japanese government, surveying and developing has been prohibited.
  • US military has used one of the islands as a practice bombing range

However, tourism has not occurred on the islands, at least not organised tourism as we know it today.

(Source)

However, as for reaching it, this is possible, although potentially foolhardy and dangerous in the current political climate. A flotilla of fishing vessels sailed there last year during one of the rows in the ongoing dispute, as have some activists, so in theory you could join them or pay a boat to take you there. I think most places would advise against it in the current world political climate, however.

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Amazing answer. Couldn't ask for any more info. –  SamtheBrand Dec 19 '13 at 14:37
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