Monday, July 5, 2010

Taketomi- life in the slow lane

Only ten minutes by ferry is tiny Taketomi island, a cute little tourist island  with quaint coral walls, sand streets, water buffalo carts (for tourists) and lots of flowers. The whole island is supposedly organized according to the principles of Feng Shui. The roofs of the houses are orange tile and many have the Okinawan lion-dogs (shisa) on top. There is a strict building code preserving the traditional architecture and land ownership by outsiders is prohibited. It's like going back to some idealized Japanese past.

I thought the best way to soak up the atmosphere would be to take the 6 kilometer walking tour of the island.

One of the highlights of the tour is to pay $1 to climb on top of someone's house to get a view of the island.

The $1 view.

The island has a few Shinto shrines tucked away in the jungle. Shinto is the original animistic religion of Japan, so has a close connection with nature. Often the object of worship is a big tree or rock.

(Unflattering photo  removed by request of wife's friend, who was embarrassed for her.)

It was incredibly hot and humid, sucking the energy right out of us.

Taketomi taxi. These buffalo take their time. You can't really tell a 2,000 pound buffalo what to do. You're better off walking.

There were Ruddy Kingfishers all over the island. They're one of my favorite birds, colorful and tuneful.

There were all kinds of flowers and interesting plants growing out of the coral walls.

Interesting variation on the shisa, on top of a restaurant with a fish in his mouth.

Since it was so hot, we made a beeline for the beach. We expected the water to cool us off, but it was ankle deep and hot! The tide was out and the water was like a Japanese bath. There was no coral to speak of in the water, either. I guess they took all of it to make the coral walls.
These tourists are at star sand beach, where the shells of foraminifera wash up. They have tiny star shaped skeletons, and I expected the beach to be covered with them, but you really have to sift through the grains to find them.

 "Star sand."
The penguins catching some rays.

Crazy tourists! Don't they know it's nap time?

The walk back to town was predictably unpopular with my traveling companions,especially after drinking a beer.

Okinawan tombs.

A beetle on a passion fruit flower.

The high point on the island.

The top of the world.

It was entertaining to watch the Japanese women climb these incredibly steep stairs in their high heels. The crumbling masonry added to the thrill of climbing this precipice.

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