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A Relaxing Stroll in the Residential Area of Ishigaki Island
post : 2019.05.21 07:00
I think there are probably many people who enjoy taking a break from the usual tourist destinations and strolling along the residential streets in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
On Ishigaki Island, just an alley away from a busy main street offers a completely different and serene atmosphere. You may see Shisa lions on the red-tiled roofs, stone walls or gates made of coral, beautiful blossoms bursting with color, and there may be tropical fruits in the garden as well.
Some of the fruits seen growing in the residential gardens include bananas, mangoes, papayas, pomegranates, starfruits, acerola, and mulberries.
Photo above shows starfruits growing in abundance at a private home.
Not all mango trees are tended to carefully, but rather, they grow just like the other plants in the yards and the birds feast on the delicious fruit.
Being from the Kanto area, when I first moved to Okinawa, there were so many plants I wasn’t familiar with. Nowadays, I’m more familiar with them, but I still get excited to see gardens and hedges that are completely different from homes in mainland Japan.
Pomegranates seem to be growing everywhere, but I’ve never actually seen anyone pick and eat them. I’ve been told that people used to eat them before. I guess they’re not as delicious as the other fruits available…When I see the pomegranates on Ishigaki Island being sort of left aside, I fret on my own at the waste and think, “mottainai”. Pomegranates are popular these days and are used in various cuisines and in all sorts of cosmetics, too.
Many homes with traditional tiled-roofing have such character in their architectural style and are of such good taste that I often enjoy simply looking at them and studying them. The number of these truly Okinawan style homes with tiled roofs are on the decline, and here on Ishigaki Island too, they are decreasing rapidly in the last few years. I understand that the times are changing, but at the same time, I’m sad to see them disappear.
Photo above shows a Chinese box turtle. Sometimes, these creatures seem to suddenly and quietly appear. The Chinese box turtle mainly inhabit Ishigaki and Iriomote Islands, as well as in Taiwan, and are designated as an endangered species. I took this photo at the entrance to my office. My first reaction was, “Where did you come from?!” But they really do seem to always appear out of nowhere, and usually where there are many people around.
It’s been eight years since I started living on Ishigaki Island, but I still enjoy my walks and spontaneously going to places I’ve never been. When I have time, I’ll purposely take the longer routes and eventually, I hope to walk along all of the roads that cover the island.
In April, the ruddy kingfisher birds start to chirp with such sweet sounds. These birds have small, red-feathered bodies and bright red beaks. Their chirping sounds are truly beautiful, and you can see them not just in forests and parks, but even in residential areas with lush greenery. If you hear their singsong chirps, lend an ear to their wonderful recital♪
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Masumi Sasamoto