Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Okinawan Vacation Part 2 - Taketomi

In my last post, I covered our trip to Ishigaki Island in southern Okinawa.  As part of that tour, we also took a half-day excursion to the small island of Taketomi just off the coast of Ishigaki.

After our day and evening in Ishigaki, we left early the next morning to catch the ferry to the Taketomi.  It was a short 15 minute ride.

Once there, the first thing we did was take a ride in a glass bottom boat out into the harbor to see the coral reefs and small fishes in the harbor.  It was a calm ride except when the ferry boats passed by creating large wakes that rocked us quite a bit.

Then is was off to a small village, where all the houses are made of stone and walled off by coral stone fences.  The streets are all sand covered.  The only remaining pre-war thatched roof house in Taketomi was there. 


The Only Remaining Pre-War Thatched Roof House on Taketomi
 All the other houses now had the characteristic red tile roofs.   The village was quiet, with small houses situated close together, separated by stone fences about six feet high.  All the paths in the village were covered in sand that had been brought in from the shore. 
Taketomi Village
Sand-Covered Paths Among Stone Walls and Red Tiled Houses
 We took a ride in a cart pulled by a water buffalo through the streets, while given a tour (in Japanese) by our ox cart driver.  Along the way, he pointed out the house that was the place where the famous and very popular Okinawan song “Asadoya Yunta” was written.

"Asadoya Yunta" tells the story of a beautiful Taketomi girl who is asked repeatedly by a powerful Okinawan prince to come back to Shuri with him and be his bride.  She bravely refuses his many attempts, because she does not want to leave her beautiful island home of Taketomi. 

When our ox cart driver stopped at this house, he pulled out his sanshin and played and sang the song for us.
Our Water Buffalo with a Hibiscus Flower Perched Flirtatiously over the Left Ear
After the ox cart ride we spent some time at a small museum which had on display among other things various old farm tools, an old dugout canoe with sail, and a straw raincoat.

Our last stop was a visit to Star Sand Beach, a place where sand particles are shaped like small starfish.  We tried to find some ourselves but in the end just bought some from the souvenir stand that was there.
Star Sand Beach
Star Sand Beach Souvenir

That afternoon, it was back to Ishigaki by ferry, then by plane to Naha on Okinawa Island.  

Our next excursion:  Shuri Castle and the Okinawan Prefectural Museum.  Next Post.

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