A late sumer vacation included a trip Okinawa Prefecture, although I spent my time not on the main island of Okinawa, but on two islands a 14-hour ferry ride away from there. Ishigaki and Taketomi Islands are a part of a group of islands known as Yaeyama. “Japan’s last frontier,” Yaeyama has been called.
This is Kabira Bay, Ishihgaki, a place famous for its pearl cultivation. I wish I had pictures of the many different colors of pearls they conjur up in the beautiful bay.
This is the ocean as seen from Taketomi Island, where the sand is shaped like stars (I thought that was a gimmick, until I went to the beach and saw it really is shaped like stars!). Even if the sand was not unusual, have you ever seen such a beautiful blue as in that ocean?
I listened to traditional music while in Ishigaki. I also had a crash course lesson on how to play a small wooden percussion instrument called a sanba. The woman in brown is playing it in the picture; I am sorry it is too small to see. These three people were very friendly. We had a good conversation, and they even tried to teach me Japanese history. It was a fun afternoon!
Shisa are a pair of protective dragons that guard almost every house in the Yaeyama/Okinawa islands. Each set has a male and female. The male has his mouth open, and scares evil away. The female has her mouth closed and keeps good in. They are sometimes portrayed as very fierce, and sometimes as cute cartoon animals.
Lastly, the ferry ride back to Okinawa to catch my plane back to Tokyo. This was a wonderful journey, although I think any longer than 14 hours, and I would have wondered what to do with myself! But, the ocean was beautiful and I met new friends on the boat.