Okinawa Tourism Information:JungleCreatingaLabyrinthofPattern!“MiyagiRiverHirugiGrove,”IshigakiIsland

Jungle Creating a Labyrinth of Pattern! “Miyagi River Hirugi Grove,” Ishigaki Island

post : 2014.12.30 19:00

Do you know mangroves?  Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that grow in saline swamp in an estuary brackish water area in the tropics and subtropics.  Mangroves are also called “Koujurin” or “Kaihyourin,” and hirugi species are commonly known.  

Miyara River, the longest river on Ishigaki Island, is 12km long.  It is the second class river flowing through the southern part of Ishigaki Island, and hirugi trees grow on both sides of the river for about 1.5km from the estuary to the upstream, which have created a distinct landscape.  “Miyagi River Hirugi Grove,” which mainly consist of Yaeyama Hirugi and Mehirugi, was designated as a national natural monument in 1972.

At the foot of the Miyara River along National Highway 390, there is a monument of “Miyara River Hirugi Grove,” which has been popular as a stop-by spot. 

Walking down on the steps, a subtropical tidal flat veiled in ocean breeze and the stifling smell of grass opens up before your eyes.  There you will find numerous hirugi trees taking roots literally, which create a labyrinth of pattern.

You feel as if you sneaked into the jungle along the Amazon River.  The area has an exotic atmosphere of a southern land

Most of the hirugi plants are hermaphrodite.  They look faintly grotesque, but they function to protect other trees as well as to control the amount of water flow and to prevent soil erosion after heavy rain in the Miyara River, which has many tributaries and branch streams.

In addition, this place carries an important role as cradle of diversity of animal species, where wild birds and butterflies live, migrate, and propagate as well as many crabs and fishes inhabit in the tidal flat.

If you would like to observe the hirugi groves more closely and deeply and to learn more details about the ecosystem, some companies offer canoeing or kayaking experience tours at the Miyara River, so please check on the net!

As you step into the grove, you will be surrounded by a weird space with no sunlight coming in.  The forest unique to an exotic subtropical region seems to appear in a Hollywood film; however, when you stare down at your feet, you can find small minamitobihaze (barred mudskippers) stand in a cute way.

It is just a natural riverside which has nothing but a parking lot and steps, but if you listen carefully in the silence, you might hear a breath of a variety of life there.  This place brought me such a feeling. 

Miyagi River Hirugi Grove

Address: Miyara, Ishigaki City
Admission: Free
Parking: Available

Ishigaki City Tourism Exchange Association
TEL: 0980-82-2809

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Kiwamu Ogawa