Thursday, January 7, 2010

Taketomi Island

The main island we had been been staying on, Ishigaki, is part of about 10 islands that make up the Yaeyama Island chain. These islands are about as far from Tokyo as you could get and still be 'in Japan'. They are only roughly 100km from Taiwan! All of the islands looked stunning and their blue water and golden beaches were obvious on the flight in, we were heading off to spend 3 days on one of them but before this we headed out to Taketomi Island for a day trip. This tiny island, only about 2km across, is like a living museum and residents have fought to keep the advances in civilization at bay.

They have banned the Japanese symbol of modernization, the convenience store (for anyone outside of Japan convenience stores are a cross between a dairy and a petrol station shop and contain everything you could imagine). The roads are made of crushed coral, the streets are narrow and the walls are made of rocks.
Besides just wandering around in what felt like 17th century Japan the highlight of the day would have to have been the buffalo cart ride. A large, friendly but apparently partially blind buffalo from Hokkaido (?? hell of a long way from home!!) called 'Tomi' pulled us around the island as his keeper chatted away in Japanese and regularly stopped to place a bucket under is bum.