"" Writer's Wanderings: Ishigaki to Taketomi Island

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ishigaki to Taketomi Island

After breakfast this day, we packed our gear which included bathing suits and a couple of towels into our backpack and we all got in the van to go to the ferry dock in Ishigaki to take the ferry across to Taketomi Island. 

The island is about a fifteen minute ferry trip from Ishigaki and is the site of a beautifully preserved traditional village of Okinawan houses surrounded by stone (or coral) walls and with sandy streets. There are no rental cars on the island and those visiting get around by walking, taking a shuttle bus or renting bikes. There are several beaches on the island and it is a part of the Iriomote National Park. 

When we arrived we were offered a ride into the town on the shuttle bus but we opted to walk since it was such a short distance and it was a beautiful day. Everyone was excited about renting bikes for the day to explore the tiny island. I think my heart skipped a beat. I hadn't been on anything more than an exercise bike in physical therapy after my knee replacement and let's face it, it had been years before even that when I'd last ridden a bike. I was a little worried.

Our daughter-in-law assured both Bob and I that we could get electric bikes but when we got there only one was left. Somehow she managed to make sure that I at least got that one. (She takes good care of me.) I have to say, the electric bike was quite an experience. The first time I took off on it, I thought it had a mind of its own and after one minor scrape with a wall, I began to enjoy myself.

Our first stop was a unique beach, Kaiji. It is famous for the stars in the sand that you can find there. Lots of people were sitting in the sand and sifting through it. The little stars are actually the skeletal remains of tiny sea creatures--I'm guessing starfish. The star sand is called hoshizuna and is said to bring happiness. The stars are so tiny that I had trouble finding them. The kids didn't though. They purchases a small vial that they could put their finds in and seal. (There were also a few tables set up for souvenirs and vials of stars that you could purchase.) We managed to garner a seat on a bench and watched the fun. Did I mention that it was a beautiful day?

Once we were done scavenging, we hopped back on our bikes and headed for the next beach. The Kondoi Beach is a long stretch of sand with beautiful blue waters. When the tide is low, there is a sand island that appears on one end and once the kids were into their suits, they were off to play on the sand island. This beach had tables and benches and was a great place to have lunch. Our son decided to venture out and find us some sandwiches. I think he just wanted to try out my electric bike.

Unfortunately since it was some sort of holiday, many of the places he found were closed. He did manage to come back with a bunch of snacks though and we  filled up on those before taking off again on our bikes. 

Bob had a great deal of trouble getting up a hill we encountered on our way back into town and discovered to our dismay that he had a flat tire. Our DIL volunteered to stay with the bike until the rental place brought another one. We made it back to the rental place and I let everyone have a try at the electric bike. I especially wanted Bob to try it. I thought that if he liked it we might consider a bike trip if an excursion in the future offered electric bikes. We'll keep that as a possibility.

Our DIL joined us shortly after everyone was done trying out the bike and we let her take her turn before we turned them in and walked back to the ferry dock. We had a short wait in line for our return trip as most everyone was ending their day as well on the island and I believe they were running a couple of extra ferries.

Our dinner later that evening was at another traditional restaurant that had a dinner table on a tatami mat. Once again I was offered a short chair to make it easier for me to sit and be able to get up again. 

Once back at the house, we started reorganizing our suitcases so we would be ready to fly back to Tokyo the next day. Of course our flight wouldn't be until the afternoon so we would have time, if we got up early, to finally get to have our fresh tofu breakfast that I told you about in an earlier post. 

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