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Taketomi Island, Where Nostalgic Scenes of Okinawa’s Past Still Remain
post : 2019.05.26 01:00
Among the 39 inhabited islands of Okinawa, Taketomijima or Taketomi Island has the highest percentage of repeat visitors. Even Okinawans are blown away, saying how the whole island has the nostalgic scenery of Okinawa from the bygone days. With its convenient access from Ishigaki Island, just ten minutes away, you can easily enjoy Taketomi Island and the adventures it offers.
The local islanders are the ones committed in protecting the traditional scenery and had the wisdom and foresight to avert overdevelopment on the island during Japan’s economic “bubble” period when development was rampant, everywhere. This foresight is what kept the priceless atmosphere here and is what keeps people coming back. In the Taketomijima Charter of 1986 that was drawn at the hands of the residents of the island, there are 41 rules to protect the traditional culture and beautiful natural environment of the island. This Charter was inspired by the dedication of the residents to “pass on the wonderful island that we inherited from our forefathers to the future generations.”
In fact, as soon as I arrived there on the boat and the closer I got to the settlements, I could feel through my skin that the air that filled the island was different. The road that takes you around the island is paved, but most of the streets in the villages are narrow like they have been since long ago, and have coral pieces laid on the surface. The beautiful small streets are void of any litter. I learned that that villagers sweep and clean the streets around their homes every day.
Gazing out at the black cattle leisurely chewing on grass at the side of the road, I approached the center of the settlement in a lazy pace. There, I can see a water buffalo walking elegantly and pulling a cart full of people, a famous sight on Taketomi.
There are 166 homes on the island, with about 360 residents. There are 35 water buffaloes and 19 goats. As for dogs, there are 23 of them, and 59 cats and 21 chickens. These numbers alone can perhaps give you some idea of how the island is calm and peaceful like a lost paradise, with the time flowing gently by like the murmurs of a clear stream.
When the morning comes, the rooster crow, and when the evening arrives, the tropical birds on the island, that I don’t even know the names of, sing their lullabies in calming, low whispers. On clear, calm cays, you can go to Kaiji Hama, a beach on the west side of the island, to look for star-shaped sand, and if you feel like getting a little exercise, take a dip in the waters at Kondoi Beach where the shore shines brilliantly with its white sand.
When the sun begins to set, take a walk to the west pier and gaze at the sky with a beer in hand as the sun colors the western skies in brilliant colors of red. A day on Taketomi is quiet, relaxing and calm. The luxury of doing absolutely nothing but just relaxing, will slowly fulfill your body and soul.
Unmistakably, it truly is the Taketomi Charter and the heart of every single one of the islanders that established the Charter that make the time that gently flows on the island, exceptional. This passion of the islanders is what Hoshinoya embraced. Hoshinoya is operated by Hoshino Resorts, a company that has brought new perspectives and broke the molds in the resort industry in Japan. Hoshinoya places the greatest importance in developing a strong bond with the local people and environment to discover the hidden value and to offer that to their guests.
Hoshinoya Taketomi takes further steps in their efforts to be united with the island. Once a month, they invite experts from the island to hold workshops for their staff to learn about the culture and nature of the island. They also are active participants in the traditional events that take place on the island frequently, as well as in sports days and other neighborhood events. Their stance and their desire to learn and respect the local environment reflects on their heartfelt services and hospitality offered to their guests.
With their Ryukyu Nouvelle, the innovative style of Ryukyuan and Taketomi cuisine based on French techniques, and their carefully thought-out hospitality found in every nook and cranny of their facilities, truly heightens the experiences for their guests to enjoy their stay like they are a part of the island and village. It’s true, such a challenge doesn’t come easy and the luxury comes with a price, but you’ll likely experience a fantastic time that matches what you would expect.
A famous Japanese avant-garde artist once said, “the dizziness of nothingness” in regard to the luxuriously relaxing time on Okinawa. Taketomi Island offers the environment for all to experience that, with the three pillars that support it; the people, tradition, and nature. Head to Taketomi to experience the bygone era of Okinawa, and the scenery from long ago. If you can, bring only what you really need, without any material and emotional baggage to weigh you down.
-Taketomi Town Tourism Association
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda