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Small, idyllic Taketomi beckons with quiet and peace

Date Posted: 2012-07-20

Editor’s Note: Okinawa’s beautiful southern islands are being showcased in Japan Update each week. This week, sneak a peek into the culture and beauty of a tiny Yaeyama Island.

Taketomi Island lies just a few miles to the southwest of Ishigaki. A visit takes only 10 – 15 minutes by ferry and the return trip costs as little as ¥1,100 from Ishigaki. This makes Taketomi an extremely popular day-trip destination and with the exception of Ishigaki, it is by far the most visited of Yaeyama's islands. There's no real need to plan a journey to Taketomi in advance; Just arrive at the terminal, hop on the next ferry and enjoy a few hours exploring the island's sights and beaches.

Taketomi Village

Taketomi village lies around 10 minutes from the island's ferry terminal by foot. The village's traditional, clay-tiled, single story dwellings make for a picturesque stroll through its narrow lanes. Many of the roofs are decorated with traditional 'shiisaa' figurines which are thought to bring luck to inhabitants.

Nagomi Tower

The best view of the town center can be had from precarious-looking tower called 'Nagomi no tou', the Nagomi tower. The view from the top is pleasant, and it would be great if it wasn't for the presence of overhead power cables which line Taketomi's streets. Watching people trying to climb the ridiculously steep set of stairs which lead to the top of the tower is in many ways as interesting as the view. You'll hear repeated cries of 'kowai' ('scary' in Japanese) from tourists, and in all fairness, it's amazing that nobody's ever been seriously injured while trying to climb to the top.

Kondoi Beach

Kondoi's beautiful crescent-shaped bay boasts the most popular beach on the island. Its beautiful turquoise water is relatively shallow, meaning that anybody can enjoy a dip in the ocean, and there's reasonable snorkeling to be enjoyed if you own or rent gear. To the rear of the beach there is a picnic area, showers, and public conveniences. Parasols and deck chairs are also available for rental.

During low tide, a small island of sand is revealed to the west of the beach, about 100 meters from the shore. People wade out to this spot to sunbathe while taking in the view of the islands of Iriomotejima and Kohama in the distance. Kondoi is located on Taketomi's west coast and signs are posted from the center of the village, although most signs are in katakana.

Most people will be able to visit all of the island's key sights and beaches on foot during a day trip. Taketomi's narrow dirt tracks mean that car rental isn't an option, but there are a few companies which rent out bicycles. This has become the most popular means of getting around the island. Rental prices range from around ¥300 an hour to ¥1,500 for a full day.

When visiting Okinawa’s southern islands, check with the Okinawa Tourland Hotel Booking Site, http://eng.tourland.co.jp for special prices and deals on hotels, transportation and activities options.

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