Category Archives: Okinawa 2018

Mt. Maapee

Our second hike on the Ishigaki Island: Mt. Maapee.

It has a modest height of 230m with two hiking paths to the top: the longer one takes 45 minutes and the shorter one just 15 minutes! Sounds more like a stroll in the park. The local recommended the short one because the longer path is not clearly marked.

Its distinctive rocky peak is visible from far and we wondered how we can get up there in mere 15 min….

After missing the first sign, we reoriented ourselves and arrived at the real trailhead via a dense forest management road curiously observed by a wild pheasant.

From the beginning it was quite a climb in the dense forest and bamboo bushes but with the ropes we  got up easily. Soon, we found ourselves getting out of the forest and on the rocky top.

From here there is  a breathtaking 360-degree view of  Ishigaki Island! The dense green forest flows down to  the emerald blue water and the peninsula stretches out to the north.  Several hikers came and went, and we stayed on a long time,  perked on the rock gazing at the mesmerizing panorama.

At the top of Okinawa, Mt. Omoto

I know that Okinawa is a water sports activity destination, but a passionate hiker like myself can always find a place to hike up to :  )  So today we have decided to go up to the top of Okinawa, Mt. Omoto at an impressive 525m!

When we started walking, a young Japanese man came down and warned us that it was a lot steeper than expected. After a short while, we started climbing up in the dense, humid tropical forest, which reminded us of Bali as well as Yakushima. Beautiful butterflies, trees tangling with other plants, enormous ferns…

Combing through the low bushy bamboo was a bit of work and Philippe was somewhat annoyed by catching all the cobwebs above 180cm which the slightly smaller Japanese hikers before us kindly left behind.

After around one hour, we arrived at the top of Mt. Omoto, 525m. Despite this modest height it is the highest peak in the entire Okinawa!

From the top we had a sweeping view of the long stretch of the Ishigaki island and the turquoise blue bay of Kabira. Amazing!

 

 

Iriomote Diving

Okinawa is a great nature destination – above and below sea level. We decided to follow our B&B host Kiyoko’s recommendation and booked a two dive outing with Take Diving. Pick-up at the BnB, cool.

Take Diving has a great boat with a changing room, a toilet, hot water shower, and a well established procedure including a dive site briefing. Satoko-san, our friendly instructor, was a bit afraid that the wetsuit and the fins would not fit my size. It did … just.

The first dive at a site called “Flower Garden” is a shallow dive (max. 15m) to get used to the underwater equipment again. As the name of the Flower Garden suggests, large colorful corals spread like flowers under the water with countless tiny blue, red and yellow fish hovering around. Even through relatively weak sunlight, I (Yasuko) felt like being in a fantasy world and wanted to be part of it and float in the water forever…

Nice bento lunch and a quick snorkel around Baraso Island – a super tiny island purely made of coral.

With a bit more confidence (especially for Yasuko) we set out for the second dive at a location called Offshore Nakano (max 25m). We moved around in a spectacular setting made of many mini valleys, small tunnels, coral corridors and caves where Satoko-san pointed out all those many creatures we would otherwise never have spotted. One of such animals was a one-eyed little fish which Take-san, the owner of the diving school, observes for 8 years already. Interesting.

In the evening we were invited to Take-san’s house for today’s dive video viewing and local booze tasting of Awamori.  Take-san and Satoko explained again the fish we observed during the dives and we were awed the second time by the beauty of the colorful, tiny yet amazing underwater creatures.

We dove in many countries but we concluded that Take Diving is the most professional, best-equipped dive shop we ever chartered. However, we have no other Iriomote dive school to compare to. There may be other good ones around.

Phone: +81 9808 56871 / www.takedive.com (not well done)

Kayaking to Mariyudō-no-taki waterfalls

Iriomote’s number-one attraction is a boat trip up the Urauchi-gawa (浦内川), a winding brown river reminiscent of a tiny stretch of the Amazon.

We rented a kayak from the mouth of the river, Urauchi-gawa Kankō (浦内川観光 ) and  paddled up 6 km braving against the wind. Then we joined the tourists who came by the boat  to continue another 2 km on foot all the way in the jungle  to the waterfall.

For us, the main attraction of this trip is the paddling  along the mangrove  rivershore. Iriomote island  is the only place in subtropical Japan where one can do that.  The one hour of rain all the way back and the winds were not a problem at all. We got all wet but the warm temperature balanced it out.

Except occasional boats which carry sightseeing  tourists (who always waved at us), we were floating on the water all alone sandwiched by  the dense, humid Lmangrove forests and forgot that we are in Japan.

 

Ramen: Focus on Taste

We had a 30 minutes layover at the Fukuoka airport to take the connecting flight to Ishigaki – more than enough for a quick slurp of Yasuko’s favorite ramen style, tonkotsu. And as we are at an airport, the usual food service efficiency needs, bien évidemment , to be cranked up a notch or two.

It took precisely 4 minutes from “Yes I do” (want ramen) to the first slurp.

Just respectfully …

  • chose your version of ramen and pay for the voucher at the vending machine
  • move to your own private ramen booth
  • shout “sumimasen” (excuse me) to get the waiters attention
  • hand over the voucher with some extra instructions (for those in the know)
  • wait 2.5 minutes until that steaming bowl flies to you

And now, ladies and gentlemen, close your eyes, lower your heartbeat (oooohm), ignore any funny noises around you, overclock your taste buds and follow the second instruction on the ramen manual sticker on your left which reads: “Focus on Taste” 🇯🇵🍜