Tatami Stone Beach on Kume designated Natural Treasure
So called Tatatami Stone Beach on Kume Island was officially designated National Natural Treasure as notified in the Official Journal on July 29th.
According to the Cultural Division of the Department of Education of Okinawa Prefecture Government, the Prefectural Office applied for the registration to the Government of Japan back in 1996, but it was officially approved for the first time after 18 years. The beach is the 46th officially registered national natural treasure in Okinawa.
The Tatami Stone beach is located on the west coast of Oujima on the eastern side of Kume Island. It’s known as one of the most popular tourist spots on Kumejima. Popularly called ‘Tatami Ishi’, the beach looks like covered with stone tatamis during low tide. The stones are actually pentagon or hexagon-shaped and the whole area resembles a giant turtle shell. The designated area covers 29.000 square meters, and each stone is about 1~1.5m in diameter. All in all there are more than 1,000 such stones.
Haruo Ota, the Mayor of Kumejima City, said happily, ‘This Tatami Ishi was recognized as a treasured natural property. We now go forward with protection and utilization of the area with the advice from academic experts of the Japanese and Okinawan governmenst.’
Meanwhile, a spokesman at the Cultural Division of the Department of Education of the Okinawa Prefecture Government said “We made an application on this to the Japanese Government in 1996. It’s sure we are happy about the approval, but we are also kind of surprised at the news. After all, it’s been about 20 years.”