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Yonahadake in the Northern Yanbaru Region: Experience the True Meaning of Fulfillment
post : 2019.08.29 06:00
As many of you may already know, the northern region of Okinawa Island that is commonly known as Yanbaru is full of amazing spots that are still off the beaten track. Among them is Yonahadake in Kunigami Village, located at the farthest north of the island. Yonahadake is the highest elevation on Okinawa at 503 meters and is a ‘nature paradise’ with untouched forests.
Halfway up Yonahadake is Kunigami Village Shinrin (Forest) Park and located next to the park is Pension Yonahadake, a long-running facility which was established in 1980.
The first thing that may surprise you is its large area, at 8,000 tsubo, or 26,446m2. At the center of the facility property is a multipurpose area where you can camp and even enjoy simple fireworks like sparklers at night. Here, you can enjoy various seasonal flowers, like the brilliant pink Hikan Zakura cherry blossoms in early spring, azaleas in the springtime, and Iju or schima flowers in early summer.
Although established almost four decades ago, the wooden cottages that offer accommodation for guests at Pension Yonahadake were only added in 2011, so it still has a fresh and new feeling. The wooden structure gives it a feeling of warmth and comfort. The smaller, 18m2 cottage is a comfortable single room that accommodates up to five guests. The room has two beds and five sets of futons, so the whole family can sleep together which is great for families with children. Of course, the cottage is equipped with a fridge and air conditioner so you can stay in comfort even during the hot summer months.
The shared facilities like the shower and kitchen are located in the main building. Here, you’ll also find a larger room that can accommodate a party of up to 20 guests.
Meals are prepared for the guests by reservation only, and they offer a nice local cuisine course (from about 2,000 yen per person). Using plenty of local vegetables, the course offers a great balance that includes fresh Imaiyu fish, meats, and others. You can also opt to enjoy a BBQ by taking advantage of their free BBQ equipment rentals and ordering the full BBQ ingredients. With this BBQ course, you can enjoy a wonderful outdoor BBQ dinner without the hassle of getting all the things together! If you’re lucky, you can reserve on the day if they have an opening, but during the peak seasons it’s better to reserve ahead of time.
At Yonahadake, there are also a number of trekking courses besides what’s available at the Shinrin Park. Trekking paths that stretch under the tree shades are pleasant even during the summer, so I took a little walk from the foot of the mountain.
Despite being in a subtropical climate, the forests of Yanbaru are rain forests. The apex area of Yonahadake sees a lot of fog throughout the year, and so the level of humidity in the forests remain high. You can see various species of plants that are unique to subtropical environments, such as the flying spider-monkey tree fern and other fern plants, as well as perennial evergreens such as night scented lilies.
And of course, you may also be greeted by various other living things like endemic insects, rare birds, reptiles, and amphibians. On my stroll, I glanced up and spotted a Ryukyu tree lizard stealthily clinging to a tree, looking as if it was holding its breath.
The magnificent beauty of the East China Seas seen from the observatory situated at 280 meters above sea level was breathtaking. At the shores in front of me was the little hamlet of Okuma, and a few kilometers to the west was Kouri Island, and I could even see the pyramid-shape of the famous Iejima Island’s Tacchu hill. The scenery is amazing with nothing to block the view, and of course, during clear, cloudless evenings, the sky is full of brilliant stars.
The mountainous environment in the northern region of Okinawa Island is truly special and is unlike any other. While there, I felt that the nature of the area showed me what it really means to be happy and fulfilled.
Address: 2040-101 Okuma, Kunigami Village, Kunigami, Okinawa
Rates: 15,000 Yen (Including Tax, 1 Room/1 Night) *Accommodates 5 (For 6 guests or more, please contact them.)
Check In: 15:00
Check Out: 10:00
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Kiwamu Ogawa (Qey Word)