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Tourism entrepreneur plans round-the-world saling adventure

Date Posted: 2009-03-12

Hiroshi Maeda has been living a somewhat solitary life, leading tourists and students on excursions of a mostly uninhabited southern island, but now he’s ready for something more challenging.

He’s been making a living taking kids and tourists to Kayama Island, an uninhabited piece of land in the shadow of Yaeyama’s Kohama Island, which is famous because of popular television program that’s been filmed there. Maeda concentrated his life on the small island just to the north, to Kayama, and has made enough money to fulfill his dream.

The 57-year-old Maeda is about to begin a trip around the world, taking a two-year voyage aboard his yacht that will carry him around the globe. He’ll leave from Yaeyama March 24th. His plan for circumnavigation is to travel “from north latitude 24 degrees to south latitude 24 degrees, the coral area”, which he says he wants to focus attention upon. Maeda is worried about what is happening to the coral around the world, but specifically in the Yaeyama district.

The Hokkaido-born Maeda first became interested in yachts while a university students, ultimately participating in, and winning, several All-Japan championship races. Since moving to Taketomi Town in 1987, he’s been watching the ocean, and says he’s concerned about “a lot of garbage drifting to beaches, and all the corals dying.” He says “the ocean has changed so much, and is not so beautiful anymore.”

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