Okinawa Tourism Information:EnchantedbytheBrillianceoftheIsland’sStarlitSkies.PhotoSpotsonIheyaIslandRecommendedbyPhotographer,HidefumiFukumura

Enchanted by the Brilliance of the Island’s Starlit Skies. Photo Spots on Iheya Island Recommended by Photographer, Hidefumi Fukumura

post : 2020.12.25 19:00

When you visit Iheya Island, you won’t come across any shopping centers nor amusement parks but instead, you’ll find beautiful, nostalgic scenery of Okinawa. The biggest charm is the “untouched nature” on this island that is surrounded by the seas with high transparency and breathtaking nature.

For this article, I asked Hidefumi Fukumura who resides on the island, to share some of his recommended spots on Iheya Island.

While being in charge of the community cooperative store, Fukumura-san is also an active photographer. Born on Minami Daito Island, Fukumura-san relocated to Iheya Island, where his father is originally from, 20 years ago. Presently, he’s in charge of the Maedomari Kyodo Baiten, a community cooperative shop that was established 72 years ago, and on his days off and whenever he’s not working, he goes around the island with his camera in his hand, taking photographs of the scenery, starlit skies, vegetation, Awamori produced at Iheya Shuzosho distillery, ceremonies, rituals, and various others and posts them on his SNS accounts. He continues to convey the charms of the island to the rest of Japan and to the world.

Photo courtesy of Hidefumi Fukumura

“The island is small, with a circumference of just 34km, but even at the same spots the scenery on the island shows varying expressions depending on the season and time of day. Iheya Island is really a very interesting place,” says Fukumura-san. Among the spots, he highly recommends the ocean view from Noho Port. The ocean seen from this spot offers great gradation of colors, and Fukumura-san says that even after 20 years as a resident of the island, the sight still takes his breath away each time.

Photo courtesy of Hidefumi Fukumura

From Gakiya Dam, located at a high altitude on the island, you can command a panoramic view of Maedomari Port and its surrounding communities. The view is rustic and wonderful, and is like as if you travelled back in time.

Photo courtesy of Hidefumi Fukumura

Fukumura-san shares, “Trekking along the trails of Koshi-dake Rindo in the winter is also lovely, too.” There are eight mountains on Iheya Island, which includes Mt. Kuba, Tanna-dake mountain, Aha-dake, and Mt. Gayozan, and Koshi-dake has a trail that is maintained, so it’s a great place to go on a nice trek. There are several trail courses there, and the 3,982m course takes about 50 minutes at a leisurely pace. Depending on the season, you may come across rare birds and insects, as well as vegetation.

Photo courtesy of Hidefumi Fukumura

“I began to develop an interest in photography when I first arrived on Iheya Island. I started out with a compact digital camera, and then moved on to a single-lens reflex camera. I really wanted to take photos of the starry sky above Iheya Island, so I began to study photography on my own. I wanted people to see the island where the stars seem to rain from above. In the summers, the Milky Way appears brilliantly clear, it’s a really moving sight to see. To see it, visit the island on a night of the New Moon, when there’s no moonlight in the sky.”

He offered to give me tips on taking photos of the starlit skies at the next opportunity.

The scenery from the island that still moves him after 20 years on the island will definitely charm visitors to the island. If you get a chance, visit Iheya Island and see its beauty!


Hidefumi Fukumura, Photographer

Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi