Ishigaki, Japan

The Exotic Japanese Tropics


Waiting for Passengers II
Glass-bottom boats docked at Kabira Bay, where visitors are prohibited from bathing in the warm water.
tropical shade
Two generations of Ishigaki inhabitants on the white sands of Kabira Bay.
Yayama pineapples
Small pineapples displayed at an Ishigaki store.
Japanese tropics
Panorama of the coralline coast of Ishigaki, one of the islands of the Yayeama group.
Shisa Guardians
One of several sculptures of shisa guardians grouped in Ishigaki.
marine curiosity
Glass-bottom boat passengers survey the coral bed of the sea off Kabira Bay.
circle photo
A group of Japanese friends are photographed at the edge of the calm and warm sea of ​​Kabira Bay.
horticultural works
Owner of the Hirata business group works in one of its greenhouses.
amphibious tour
Japanese friends during a short amphibious ride along Kabira Bay.
Ishigaki is one of the last islands in the stepping stone that stretches between Honshu and Taiwan. Ishigakijima is home to some of the most amazing beaches and coastal scenery in these parts of the Pacific Ocean. More and more Japanese who visit them enjoy them with little or no bathing.

It is in its Yaeyama island group, Japan stalks the Tropic of Cancer. And on clear days, from Yonaguni, the Japanese island that ventures the most to the southwest, you can even see the Taiwan, Republic of China “rebel” crossed by him.

Moments after landing in Ishigaki, we confirmed that this was by far the most developed and inhabited territory in the archipelago.

In the Japanese ends of the North Pacific

Once handed over to their natives, these faraway places have recently suffered a tree of Japanese domestic tourism, fueled by curious vacationers who opt for domestic destinations over Japan's most adored foreign beaches: Boracay, El Nido and others in Philippines, waikiki, on Hawaii, among others.

The foreigners who come here can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. This explains why we feel more observed in three or four hours in Ishigaki than in several months spent in northern Japan.

Visitors to Yaeyama start, like us, by landing in Ishigaki. From there, it takes ultra-fast ferries or short flights to the satellite islands, almost all of them lavish in their bucolic, wild and peculiar maritime settings. Before that, it is customary to walk around and bathe your feet. We didn't have ours well settled on the island.

Even so, if it gave, we were willing to make a recreation worthy of the name. Kabira Bay deserved it and more. Strange as it seemed to us before, Japan did have the irresistible marine nooks like that.

Glass Bottom Boats, Kabira Bay, Ishigaki

Glass-bottom boats docked at Kabira Bay, where visitors are prohibited from bathing in the warm water.

Kabira Bay's Emerald Green Surprise

At Kabira Bay, we found waters protected from the great ocean by a front of forested sandbanks. Translucent waters, tinged with bright greens and blues by a bed of coral origin and by the plunging sun. Waters where graceful shoals of manta, dolphins, whale sharks and conventional sharks glide, some of the species most feared by divers.

Kaori Kinjo, the guide who accompanied us in Ishigaki and the rest of Yaeyama that we would visit, assures us that this was the best place to “perceive” the configuration and colors of the bay. It does so in English, quite clearly. Although, in a good Japanese way, I feel that you are not qualified and feel some shame.

So, for most of our stay, Seiko Kokuba, a full-time translator, is at your service.

Kaori Kinjo was originally from the Japanese Prefecture of Tochigi. A few days later, there we would be dazzled by the Nikko's secular temples and the Shunki Reitaisai Spring Festival.

At one point, he moved to the tropical south of Japan. There he found well-paying work at Okinawa's large Aquarium, until 2005, the largest in the world. Seiko Kokuba already lived in the Philippines where he worked at an NGO and learned to speak half English, half the Tagalog dialect, as the Filipinos do.

He had the ambition to go to study in the UK but the family could not sustain that dream. Instead, he moved to India and was there practicing his English. born and raised in Tokyo, married a man of Okinawa and settled in Ishigaki, where Japan is always in summer.

A Bay Little or Nothing to Bathe

We arrived mid-morning. It is damp, oppressive heat. Still, we don't see a soul in the water, just the occasional groups of friends or families strolling on the chalk sand, the occasional barefoot with their pants rolled up, with the warm China Sea reaching them at most. knees.

Girlfriends walk in Kabira Bay, Ishigaki, Japan

Japanese friends during a short knee-deep water ride along Kabira Bay.

We asked the cicerones why nobody bathed in those dream waters. Only half of the answer surprises us. “Well, there are two reasons: one is that most Japanese people still haven't fully surrendered to Westerners' bathing leisure.

The other, the main one, is that, on the one hand, there are nurseries of hypervaluable black pearl oysters in the bay and the producers want them to be protected, even if those waters are part of the vast National Park Iriomote-Ishigaki.

Also, for safety's sake, the operators of these pleasure boats that you see lined up down there are also a little overturned so that people bathe along the routes that the boats use all the time.

Waikiki, Hawaii: the Bathing Destination of Choice

In good Japanese fashion, no visitor breaks the rules. To compensate, such a fleet of glass bottom boats is always ready to show visitors the coral bottom and fauna of the China Sea.

We listen carefully. We take into account the grounds and the vastness of the bay. As inveterate bathers that we are, we assume the ethno-egoism and that everything sounded above all like enormous waste.

As for the first explanation, that of contempt for going to the baths, it could even be like that in Japan. But the year before, we had passed through Waikiki, a bathing extension of the Hawaiian capital Honolulu.

There we saw the pine cone beaches of Japanese whiter than the sand of Kabira Bay, having fun clinging to buoys and lying on inflatable mattresses, in the middle of the North Pacific. There were so many Japanese bathers that from there we brought the impression that, almost 80 years after the boldness of Pearl Harbour, the Japanese had returned and had seized Hawaii.

The Possible Compensation of the Glass Bottom Boat

As frustrating as the prohibitive sign we bumped into at the entrance to the sea sounded, like the Japanese, we too were covered by the restriction. Kaori and Seiko feel some frustration in the air. As a reward, they inform us that they have arranged a tour on one of the glass-bottom boats that show the bay's bottom.

It wasn't quite the same thing, but as a gift horse you don't look at the teeth, considering that we would take it mainly as a cultural experience, we boarded there in the midst of a group of families and friends excited about evasion.

The boat starts by moving for about 15 minutes at a considerable speed. At a pace, even so, much faster than that of the childish Japanese narration that illustrated the nautical tour.

When we reach an area with shallow water, corals and ideal transparency, it goes into a kind of slow motion. All of a sudden, the bottom glass turns into mobile aquariums.

Glass Bottom Boat Action at Kabira Bay, Ishigaki, Japan

Glass-bottom boat passengers survey the coral bed of the sea off Kabira Bay.

Passengers lean over parapets decorated with captioned images of the fauna and flora they are supposed to see there, installed above the glass bottom.

From time to time, one or several bright fish appear in the framing of the corals and fill the boat with life and suck- suck, the unavoidable term for whenever the Japanese are confronted with something cool or that amazes them.

Short Vacations to Japanese Fashion

Some of the passengers on board will be typical salarymen with ten or twelve days of vacation, possibly the first ones spent at the beach. They enjoy the deep sea, the trumpet fish, the clownfish and the like with an almost hypnotic awareness symptomatic of the liberation from the business, corporate and suit and tie worlds in which they have been spending too much time.

The boat takes another turn around the other side of the sandbars, still inside the great coral reef that surrounds much of Ishigaki. It returns to the bay through the central channel through which we had left and anchors with its sharp prow on the wet sand of the coast. Passengers disembark one by one, each surrendered to the sultry delight of the island.

Truth be told, even just recently discovered by the Japanese and visited by very few gaijin (foreigners) Ishigaki gives so much more. Both the diving sites and the beaches around the island are world class.

Ishigaki, Japan

Panorama of the coralline coast of Ishigaki, one of the islands of the Yayeama group.

The rugged interior hides wild trails that wind and rise and fall from sea level to 526 meters of Mount Omoto-dake, the highest point on the island.

Around Ishigaki

Kaori and Seiko collect them from the boat. They take us to an elevated viewpoint from which we can admire almost the entire island, in the good manner of those of French Polynesia, surrounded by a ring of emerald-green reef well demarcated from the deep ocean.

The settings, the warm and humid atmosphere have long attracted the island group of Yaeyama and Ishigaki in particular a minority of Japanese alternative lives, those who never fit into the quasi-slave labor system of the big Japanese cities or, at one point, against he rebelled.

Some, as Seiko did, descend mainly from the mother island Honshu – by far the most modernized in Japan – in search of a sentimental, existential caress, of a freedom that their compatriots do not even realize exists. In an exceptional case, one evasion turned out to be far more radical than the others.

Yasuao Hayashi's Ultimate Refuge from the deranged Sect Aum

In 1997, twenty one months later and more than 3000km from the scene of the crime, to the astonishment of the natives and residents, Yasuao Hayashi was captured in Ishigaki. He was the oldest member (37 years at the time of the attack) of the group from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Aum Shinrikyo, the malevolent sect that carried out the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.

In the tropics, however summer it may be, it gets dark early. The day was drawing to a close. Eager to return to the familiar peace of their lives, Kaori and Seiko signaled to us that it was time to return to the city.

On the way, we stopped at an unobstructed agricultural property. The duo of guides informs us that they would like to show us the conglomerate's vegetable garden (also for tourism for which they worked).

Pineapples for sale at Ishigaki, Japan

Small pineapples displayed at an Ishigaki store.

We entered. We follow them. We are amazed by extensive plantations of very yellow pineapples. We move to a greenhouse zone.

From the Quinta do Grupo Hirata to the Sossego Nocturno at the Rakutenya Inn

In one of them, dressed in a green bean t-shirt, blue-green trousers tucked into white galoshes and still equipped with gloves, a man in his fifties works, eventually sixty but well preserved. “He is the owner of Hirata!, transmits Kaori to us, before introducing him. "There's a beautiful farm here!" we brag about it, in English, with Seiko's immediate translation. …..

Owner of the group Hirata in a greenhouse of the group, Ishigaki

Owner of the Hirata business group works in one of its greenhouses.

The interlocutor smiles, bows gratefully and shows us the lush courgettes he was dealing with. We exchange a few more polite phrases until the owner of the place recommends the maids to show us the rest of the plantations.

Kaori rushes the task. Then, it takes us to the urban core of Ishigaki, arranged around the port. We return to the Rakutenya guest-house that had welcomed us on arrival in Naha, the capital of Okinawa.

Shisa Guardians, Ishigaki, Japan

One of several sculptures of shisa guardians grouped in Ishigaki.

The owners, a couple of Japanese hippies, one of those who fulfilled their Japanese dream in the south, welcome us to the inn, installed in a wooden and coral stone house built in 1930, partly in the characteristic architectural style of Okinawa and the Yaeyama Islands, one of hundreds that we would see in one of the following destinations: the delicious little island taketomi.

Before, we still explored Iriomote, the last Japanese frontier when it comes to tropical adventure. They were both other stories.

Iriomote, Japan

The Small Tropical Japanese Amazon of Iriomote

Impenetrable rainforests and mangroves fill Iriomote under a pressure cooker climate. Here, foreign visitors are as rare as the yamaneko, an elusive endemic lynx.
Okinawa, Japan

Ryukyu Dances: Centuries old. In No Hurry.

The Ryukyu kingdom prospered until the XNUMXth century as a trading post for the China and Japan. From the cultural aesthetics developed by its courtly aristocracy, several styles of slow dance were counted.
Okinawa, Japan

The Little Empire of the Sun

Risen from the devastation caused by World War II, Okinawa has regained the heritage of its secular Ryukyu civilization. Today, this archipelago south of Kyushu is home to a Japan on the shore, anchored by a turquoise Pacific ocean and bathed in a peculiar Japanese tropicalism.
Tokyo, Japan

The Emperor Without Empire

After the capitulation in World War II, Japan underwent a constitution that ended one of the longest empires in history. The Japanese emperor is, today, the only monarch to reign without empire.
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Miyajima, Japan

Shintoism and Buddhism with the Tide

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Nara, Japan

The Colossal Cradle of the Japanese Buddhism

Nara has long since ceased to be the capital and its Todai-ji temple has been demoted. But the Great Hall remains the largest ancient wooden building in the world. And it houses the greatest bronze Vairocana Buddha.
Kyoto, Japan

An Almost Lost Millennial Japan

Kyoto was on the US atomic bomb target list and it was more than a whim of fate that preserved it. Saved by an American Secretary of War in love with its historical and cultural richness and oriental sumptuousness, the city was replaced at the last minute by Nagasaki in the atrocious sacrifice of the second nuclear cataclysm.
Nikko, Japan

The Tokugawa Shogun Final Procession

In 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa inaugurated a shogunate that united Japan for 250 years. In her honor, Nikko re-enacts the general's medieval relocation to Toshogu's grandiose mausoleum every year.
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
Ogimashi, Japan

A Village Faithful to the A

Ogimashi reveals a fascinating heritage of Japanese adaptability. Located in one of the most snowy places on Earth, this village has perfected houses with real anti-collapse structures.
Magome-Tsumago, Japan

Magome to Tsumago: The Overcrowded Path to the Medieval Japan

In 1603, the Tokugawa shogun dictated the renovation of an ancient road system. Today, the most famous stretch of the road that linked Edo to Kyoto is covered by a mob eager to escape.
Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Tokyo, Japan

Pachinko: The Video - Addiction That Depresses Japan

It started as a toy, but the Japanese appetite for profit quickly turned pachinko into a national obsession. Today, there are 30 million Japanese surrendered to these alienating gaming machines.
Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima: a City Yielded to Peace

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Tokyo, Japan

Disposable Purrs

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Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's fashion

In ultra-populous and hyper-coded Japan, there is always room for more sophistication and creativity. Whether national or imported, it is in the capital that they begin to parade the new Japanese looks.
Kyoto, Japan

A Combustible Faith

During the Shinto celebration of Ohitaki, prayers inscribed on tablets by the Japanese faithful are gathered at the Fushimi temple. There, while being consumed by huge bonfires, her belief is renewed.
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Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

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Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

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Architecture & Design
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

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Totems, Botko Village, Malekula, Vanuatu
Adventure
Malekula, Vanuatu

Meat and Bone Cannibalism

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self-flagellation, passion of christ, philippines
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Marinduque, Philippines

The Philippine Passion of Christ

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The Supreme Fortress of Russia

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Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Saphire Cabin, Purikura, Tokyo, Japan
Culture
Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Style Passaport-Type Photography

In the late 80s, two Japanese multinationals already saw conventional photo booths as museum pieces. They turned them into revolutionary machines and Japan surrendered to the Purikura phenomenon.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines
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Philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

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Las Cuevas, Mendoza, across the Andes, Argentina
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Mendoza, Argentina

From One Side to the Other of the Andes

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

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History
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Galle Fort: A Portuguese and then Dutch (His) story

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Viewpoint Viewpoint, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile
Islands
Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Alexander Selkirk: in the Skin of the True Robinson Crusoe

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Winter White
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
Kukenam reward
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Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

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Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

The Resisting Glacier

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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
Natural Parks
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Khiva, Uzbekistan, Fortress, Silk Road,
UNESCO World Heritage
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

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Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Characters
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

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Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Beaches
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang, Laos, Through the Mekong Below
Religion
Chiang Khong - Luang Prabang, Laos.

Slow Boat, Down the Mekong River

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Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
city ​​hall, capital, oslo, norway
Society
Oslo, Norway

A Overcapitalized Capital

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the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

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El Tatio Geisers, Atacama, Chile, Between ice and heat
Wildlife
El Tatio, Chile

El Tatio Geysers – Between the Ice and the Heat of the Atacama

Surrounded by supreme volcanoes, the geothermal field of El Tatio, in the Atacama Desert it appears as a Dantesque mirage of sulfur and steam at an icy 4200 m altitude. Its geysers and fumaroles attract hordes of travelers.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.