Reads: Things that people who want to fly drones on Amami should know; Drones x Amami ｜vol.2, Places to be Cautious of on Amami Oshima
“I want to fly a drone on Amami Oshima!”
Amongst those who visit Amami Oshima to sightsee, there are also people who bring a drone and want to film the beautiful ocean from the sky. Drones have become available at reasonable prices, and we come across tourists who are filming Amami Oshima with a drone more frequently.
Although it became possible to take pictures from the sky that could not be taken easily before, accidents involving drones have also increased. In the previous article, we reviewed the laws regarding flying drones that Japan has established.
In addition to abiding by the laws, there are also places that one should be careful of when flying drones in Amami Oshima. They aren’t usually included in guidebooks, and if you fly the drones without being aware then you will get into trouble, which would ruin your vacation. Please read the areas to take caution of, and safely fly your drone!
■ Drones x Amami Series (6 volumes) ■
Where are the domains in which it is prohibited to fly drones on Amami Oshima?
First, I will specifically introduce the areas on Amami Oshima where flying drones is prohibited.
It is prohibited to fly in the airspace surrounding the airport in Kasari (Amami City) in the northern area of Amami Oshima, and above central parts of areas with a highly concentrated population, and the city of Naze.
When you upload a map of the area surrounding the airport, it is like this.
The popular spots in the vicinity, Tomori Beach and Amami Park, are prohibited areas. If you go towards the area around Cape Ayamaru, Hara Habu-ya, etc., then you exit the prohibited area, but be cautious if you fly in the direction of the airport.
Next, let’s check the area surrounding the central part of the island, Naze.
The red area is the prohibited area. If you arrive in the city from the airport, then the prohibited area begins approximately in the airspace above the conveyor belt sushi restaurant Manten. If you arrive from Wako-cho, the prohibited area begins right when the Wako tunnel ends. From there, up until the Nagahama tunnel and the first tunnel on road 58 heading towards the south/Setouchi is the prohibited area.
Aside from these places, as long as it is daytime, within your field of vision, 30m above people/buildings and under 150m from the ground, then you can fly your drones without any issues.
For those who prefer to check a more detailed map, please view this page.
Things to be careful of when flying drones on Amami Oshima
While the locations listed above are prohibited by law, there are some other areas to take caution of while flying a drone on Amami Oshima. Please make sure to check before flying.
In addition, please make sure to receive the approval and photographing permission of the property owner when flying over private property.
Paragliders and Medical Helicopters
The paragliding service of Amami Oshima called HAPPY SKY , depending on the weather, offers paragliding in the northern area of the island such as around Cape Ayamaru and the shoreline of the ‘heart rock.’
They paraglide up to 150m high, which is the exact same flight space as drones. If you find a paraglider while flying a drone, be sure to fly with extreme caution in order to not collide. I recommend that you either change the flight time or verify with the paragliding service in advance before flying.
Medical helicopters called ‘Doctor Heli’ fly as well. Medical helicopters frequently fly from the southern region of the island and Kakeromajima to Naze. The medical helicopters generally fly at altitudes above 150m, but during take off and landing they enter the airspace under 150m. If you hear a helicopter while flying, please lower the altitude of your drone.
In addition, the Self Defense Forces fly planes. Please take caution not to collide with anything while flying, seeing as not only planes fly in the sky.
Open air baths
There are various hotels that have open air baths. If you were to hear a drone flying while you were in the bath… you may be concerned, even if it was not non-consensual photography. It would ruin your time to relax.
Please do not fly drones in the vicinity of hotels with open air baths. Be sure to check with the hotel, and choose a time when no one is in the bath if you are to fly a drone.
There are three open air baths on Amami Oshima.
1. Yagijima Hotel (Naze, Amami City)
You can overlook Naze Port from the open air bath on the 5th floor, and it is open from 6 am to 11 pm. This bath does not have a ceiling, so if someone was filmed by a drone it would plainly be non-consensual photography!
2. Amami Cultural Exchange Center ‘Amami Taiken Kouryuu-kan’(Sumiyo, Amami City)
Here there is an open air bath that uses medicinal herbs. Although it is called an open air bath, it is surrounded by walls for peace-of-mind, so you cannot see much scenery. However, there is a possibility that it could be filmed by a drone, so caution is necessary.
It is open from 3pm to 9 pm from Tuesday thru Saturday, on Sundays it is open from 1 pm to 9 pm, and it is closed on Mondays. There is no problem flying as long as it is on a Monday or in the morning.
3. THE SCENE (Setouchi town)
The only natural hot spring ‘onsen’ on Amami is located here. Although only those who stay in the hotel can enter, listening to the waves while in the ‘onsen’ is the best. It is open from 7 am to 1 am, so verification with the hotel before flying a drone in the vicinity in the daytime is required.
Ongoing Photography and Events
At the parks and hotels on Amami Oshima, there are photography sessions for magazines or television programs, as well as weddings that take place. Flying a drone at Ohama Seaside Park (Naze, Amami City) requires advance permission. Weddings and other events, as well as photography sessions are frequent, so it is now necessary to submit a request in advance to ensure that plans do not conflict. If you submit the documents to the adjoined Amami Seaside Museum, you can receive permission.
In order to receive permission, you must have a permit from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, your insurance certificate, and identifications of the drone operator/manager.
In addition, events or photography sessions are held at hotels. Even in locations where you do not need permission, the drone could accidentally be photographed or the sound could cause a nuisance. It would be best to verify with the nearby buildings beforehand just in case.
Consideration regarding Noise Problems
When you fly a drone, it makes quite a loud noise. Depending on the airframe, it can make such a loud noise that it can be heard from over 100m away. If someone who lives in a usually quiet village hears it, they will surely think “What is that?!” and be surprised.
The island is nice because one only hears the waves, wind, and bird songs. If they hear the loud sound of a drone, there are surely people who feel discomfort, just as if someone had driven by their house on a loud motorcycle.
That being said, it is not realistic to ask the permission of each and every house in the villages. It would be best to fly the drone from an area that is some distance away, and go around the communities without getting too close, so as not to cause a disturbance.
Although there is room for more discussion on this subject, I personally think that this is the most realistic approach. Fortunately, there is a fair amount of distance between villages on the island, so it is not difficult to fly from a place where no one is.
Flying in the Amami Gunto National Park
In March of 2017, the Amami Gunto National Park was born.
In light of this, the Ministry of the Environment has been receiving more inquiries regarding flying drones in National Parks.
It was confirmed that drone flights are not prohibited just because it is a national park. However, it is a problem if you damage the wildlife in Special Protection Areas such as the Mangrove Primeval Forest, the Kinsakubaru Primeval Forest, Mt. Yuwan and so on.
The most concerning aspect of flying a drone is it coming into contact with something. While I do not think the drone operator would recklessly fly the drone close to trees, damage to them is regulated by the Natural Parks Act. Please take care not to hit the trees with the propeller.
You can check the PDF on the website of the Ministry of the Environment for the locations of the Special Protection Areas.
I hope I was able to gain your understanding of the important points about flying drones on Amami Oshima.
“I don’t know which areas are safe to fly in…”
For those thinking this, the next article will introduce recommended spots for flying drones on Amami Oshima, so please look forward to it!
※Residents of Amami Oshima, please contact the Amami Oshima Tourism & Products Federation with any suggestions regarding places to be cautious of.
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