Okinawa Tourism Information:OverwhelmingPresenceof“TheMostBeautifulPalmintheWorld”…“Yaeyama-yashiPalmColony”onIshigakiIsland.

Overwhelming Presence of “The Most Beautiful Palm in the World”… “Yaeyama-yashi Palm Colony” on Ishigaki Island.

post : 2015.01.18 19:00

Okinawa is a treasure trove of natural monuments.  Do you know there are a total of 97 natural monuments, that is, 45 national ones and 52 prefectural ones designated for animals and plants?

Especially in the Yaeyama Islands, a variety of precious living things inhabit, such as special national treasures including Iriomote-Yamaneko (Iriomote wildcat), Kanmuri-washi (Crested serpent eagle), endangered species including Ryukyu-kinbato (Emerald dove), endemic species including several species of Oka-yadokari (Land-dwelling hermit crab), Semaru-hakogame (Yellow-marginated box tortoise), Yonaguni-san (Atlas moth).

There is a surprising spot where you can (or might be able to) find two or three species of such natural monuments or endangered species at one time in the northwest foot of Mt. Omoto in Yonehara District in the north of Ishigaki Island.

That is “Yaeyama-yashi Palm Colony”, where special national treasure, around 150 Yaeyama-yashi palms (also called ‘the most beautiful palm in the world’) grow wild.   

Yaeyama-yashi palm (Satakentia liukiuensis) is a tall tree of 15 to 20m in height and 20 to 30cm in diameter.  Only this species exists in the Genus Satakentia.  It is a precious endemic species only found in Ishigaki Island and Iriomote Island, and presently it has grown only in this area on Ishigaki Island.

You can see a grove of these pine trees freely, and you feel safe walking on a well-developed, gentle path.  But when you go further inside, there is little natural light coming in.  It is just like a dense jungle in a subtropical region.    

The forest floor is full of heteromorphic plants, which looks eerie but must be a perfect cradle to usher in a new spirit. 

Actually visitors have often found a national natural treasure, Yaeyama Semaru-hakogame (Yellow-marginated box tortoise).  In addition, you might be able to find the largest butterfly in Japan, Oogomadara (tree nymph butterfly), a near threatened species, Ishigaki-tokage (Ishigaki lizard) as well as, in summer, you might hear buzzing of ‘phantom cicada’, Ishigaki Nii Nii (Platypleura albivannata), which is an endangered species endemic to only this area.

In about 5-minute walking from the entrance, you can reach the main observation deck.  Not having noticed this from far away, I was impressed by their astounding presence, stretching out towards the vast blue sky, towering in the air and thick together!  Their height of 15 to 20m can be that of a building of 5 to 6 floors.  No palm trees larger than this species might not be found in any other places. 

Showering minus-ion air all over me and feeling as if I had been getting healthy body and mind every second, I was about to return when I heard something moving in the shade of a tree.  “Oh, is that Yaeyama semaru-hakogame?”  When I looked carefully down there, I found a small, black chick.  I checked later to find out it was “Shirohara-kuina (white-breasted water hen)”.  It might have fallen from the nest somewhere up there.  I knew the chick was going to end its short life soon, but I had to regard to all natural providence.  Of course, a helpless person cannot do anything about it.  I just left the chick where I found quietly and was about to leave.  Mistaking me for its parent, the chick began to cry “Pee, Pee” and followed after me.  How wistful it is! 

The grove is a precious natural asset of Ishigaki Island where you feel the breath of life.

Why don’t you pay a visit once?
An unexpected drama of encountering of one life with another one might be waiting for you.

Yaeyama-yashi Palm Colony

Address: Fukai, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Admission: Free
Parking: Available

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

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Kiwamu Ogawa (Qey Word)