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Visit Hateruma Island, Japan’s Southernmost Island in the Summer
post : 2019.09.29 06:00
Out of all the islands of Okinawa, a very special island for me is Hateruma Island. Last summer, I had the chance to go there to reprint photos of Hateruma Island taken half a century ago, and also reported on the harvest festival there. There’s a special place in my heart for Hateruma through these experiences. Of course, Hateruma is an island I would recommend to people visiting Okinawa, too. In this article, I’d like to introduce some of the charms of this special island.
As you arrive at the port, the vast blue seas appear to expand without end. Before you set out on your sightseeing tour of the island, I hope you’ll spend a moment to take in the spectacular emerald-blue waters around the port.
If you think the port is beautiful, wait until you see the popular beaches that continue to attract visitors to the island…
Shown above is the most popular beach on the island, Nishi Hama. The waters off Hateruma is exceptionally beautiful and is referred to as Hateruma Blue. Nishi Hama is the perfect place to really appreciate the breathtaking beauty of Hateruma Blue.
After a day of frolicking under the hot sun at the beach and you’re looking to cool down, I recommend the shaved ice treats offered at Parlor Minpika. For a light meal, head to Kukuru Café, housed in a renovated traditional home, and enjoy their Veggie Taco Rice. For meals prepared with extra care and for interesting goods, Ayafuufami is also great. Their most popular and recommended item on the menu is the Nankotsu Soki Rafute Set; a stewed pork rib with soft cartilage and served as shown above. It comes with plenty of local vegetables, and is very tasty.
You can tour Hateruma Island on a rented bicycle and the farthest spot you might want to visit is the monument marking the southernmost point of Japan shown above, which you can reach in 30 to 40 minutes on a bike. You won’t find much shade on the island, so take it easy on your ride and be sure to pick up some beverages at the little shops you’ll find in the communities and stay hydrated. Popular souvenirs and gifts are locally produced brown sugar, and Awanami, an Awamori distilled on Hateruma Island. The Awanami in particular, is very popular and often sell out.
In the early evening, I recommend a visit back to Nishi Hama to relax and view the amazing sunset.
I can’t leave out the great evening attraction on Hateruma. The night sky on Hateruma is beyond words. Since the island is located so far out on the seas at the southernmost point of Japan, and it has very little in the way of artificial lights, the many, many stars in the sky glitter like jewels and are truly spectacular. You’ll be moved as you gaze up to the skies, and in summer evenings, you’ll also be able to observe the Milky Way.
Every night starting at 20:30, a guide of the starry skies are offered at Hateruma’s astronomical observation tower. Don’t fret even if you don’t know much about stars because the talk by the director is informative and fun, peppered with his great sense of humor.
The allure of Hateruma Island is not just the ocean and beaches during the day but so much more, all the way into the evening when the stars in the sky will steal your heart. On your next break in the summer, why don’t you hop on over to Japan’s southernmost island of Hateruma?
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Hiroshi Kuwamura