The sands of Miyakojima…

Hello Everybody!

I have just returned from another exploration, this one to Miyakojima, an island about 300 km south of Okinawa. It’s part of the Okinawan islands, and a little bigger than I expected. When I was preparing to move here, I did a bunch of Google searches on photos of Okinawa. Without fail every photo that I fell in love with was taken on Miyakojima. And yes, I know it has taken me a while to get here, but I did get here and it was worth the wait.

flying-crane
Is that white crane style?

I had a three day weekend and for me, the biggest sin I can commit, is staying home. My last two trips were beautiful, but my heart was not in them as much as it could have been. I decided to make this trip count.  I booked a nice Western/Japanese room at a resort that also had a sauna and spa next to,  of all things,  a German castle replica. I don’t know why either.

beautiful-lagoon
A gorgeous little lagoon, it reminded me of photos I have seen of Thailand.

I flew in on an early morning flight and had rented a car, this is the first time over here. There was no one at the rental place in the airport after about 15 minutes he showed up. Now in Japan everyone is on time, things are precise, everyone is polite. In the Ryukyus, there is something known as ‘Okinawa time’. This is a variant of Navajo time, which is it will happen when it happens…it’s slow, people show up when they show up…if it says 9 o’clock, count on 9:15 or 9:20…and chill.  People have sweet dispositions and smile easily in Okinawa, they let little old people cross the road and wait…I can live with Okinawa time. That being said, he showed up and sent me off on my shuttle.

I had my hybrid car, which was silent and freaked me out, and headed down to Cape Higashihennazaki. A friend of mine had recommended it as a beautiful spot and he did not lead me astray.  Cape Higashihennazaki (yes I did copy and paste that) is a narrow promontory that overlooks the Pacific Ocean to the right (migi) and the East China Sea to the left (hidari). It was stunning! I was not prepared for the wind however!

cape-higa-rocks
I left my heart at Cape Higashihennazaki  … yeah that place
rocks-and-lighthouse
It looks like the light house is rising up from the rocks.

As I was leaving, I came across a familiar sight in the Ryukyu Islands, the little blue rock thrush. They are persistent little things, quite stubborn and territorial, traits I personally admire. He was in the middle of my path and wasn’t moving, I had to go around but I did take his picture. He looked like he wanted to fight but I was a little too big to take on.

blue-rock-thrush
Blue rock thrush – how can you not love this bird, he’s dressed in Mets colors!

There are three bridges that get all the attention when you look at this island, and I made it my mission to go check them out. On the way I attempted to stop at a power spot called Ishi Niwa, a stone garden. However, both days there was no one there. Oh well, I did look across the street and see this hobbity little road.

hobbits
This looks like it leads to the Shire in Middle Earth.
side-street
A typical little side street.

This is the Ikema Bridge, that surprisingly goes to the island of Ikema! There is a lovely little lighthouse and not much else on this island.

parking-in-the-middle-irabu
The bridge to Ikema…they make it sound as if it is as big as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge..it is not.

What they do have plenty of all over the island is sugar cane. There are these deep green, lush fields that blanket all of Okinawa. I kept seeing these large trucks filled with something, but I didn’t know what. I pulled over and watched them and realized they were cutting the sugar cane. So although Miyako is one of the larger of the Okinawan Islands, it is still quite small and I was the only Caucasian that I saw the three days I was there. So I used my limited Japanese and the power of my blue eyes to inquire if I could get some pictures. Okinawans are so sweet, they almost always greet with a sunny smile.

sugar-cane
Harvesting and loading sugar cane.
loading-the-cane
That’s a lot of sugar!
cutting-cane
A very friendly taxi driver had his own field and cut me some to bring home. It is amazingly wonderful!

And then it was back to my room, which was situated seafront with a balcony. This was the view from my balcony. I was impressed!

view-from-my-room

I think I’m going to cut some of this a little short so I can get it out to you all before midnight tonight, but two things….

One- I was traveling along and stopped at a beach. I found out an interesting fact about Miyako, there are no habu on the island. However, there are sea snakes. While I was at this spot someone spotted a sea snake swimming along in the low tide! It was so cool because I have not seen one in the water, but I hear they are very curious. Also venomous,  but they seem to be quite relaxed.

watery
Low tide, clear water…sea snake!
sea-snake-still
He looked to be at least 4 feet, but it was hard to tell.
shrine
Shinto shrine
miyako-downtown
Nightlife in Miyako City…

Two: I decided to find Sunayama  Beach before I flew back today. I found it quite easily and got there when the sun decided to put in an appearance. It was quite dark and cloudy throughout my stay, but at the last minute, it graced me with its presence.

sunayama-pathy
Take me to the water….
lumix-suna
Sunayama Beach, one of my highlights.

As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed these fit guys showing up and a trainer, who also looked quite fit. The trainer greeted me in English and I asked if I could photograph. He said yes and that they were Japanese professional baseball players! One was from the Marlins, two from the Bison (or Buffaloes) and I can’t remember the other one. But they were great sports…pun intended, and posed for me. I think they were grateful for the break.

professional-ballplayers
Japanese Pro Baseball players training on Sunayama Beach!
ganbatte-kudasai
Training! It looked like Okinawan Sumo.

So I leave you with a few seconds of peace and love from sweet Miyakojima. Have a great week until I see you all again!