Travel notes – Ishigaki, Okinawa – (1/2) 旅日記

第一日目:プロローグ、心配な空模様
Day 1 – Prologue: anxious about the weather –

「この一週間は梅雨らしい天気が続くことでしょう」
と、出発日の朝の天気予報は伝えた。ツアー代金が安いこのオフシーズンだから天気は期待できなかったが、やはり残念であった。

石垣島までは羽田空港からは那覇空港経由で行った。約4時間、2500kmの長旅。飛行機から外に出ると早速、ムワっとした空気が僕たちを歓迎した。

夜ご飯には新鮮な本マグロを食べたいと思ったのだが、目的の店はあいにくの満員で駄目。だから他の店で妥協したのだが、その店がまあまあ美味しかったのでよしとして、初日の記事とさせていただく。下にいくつかのメニューを紹介しておこう。

We were strongly discouraged from seeing blue skies in this trip. The 7 day weather forecast in Okinawa region did not have any single sun symbol but cloud or rain symbols. To be honest on one hand I had anticipated this situation when I decided on the trip in low season (#), but on another hand I had believed in good luck I usually have.
(#) June in Japan is rainy season across south to Mid-north Japan.

It was a 3 + 1 hours and 2500 km trip to Ishigaki island. We made a transit in Okinawa Naha airport, and from there we got on another smaller aircraft to Ishigaki airport. As I said, it was June and passengers in the airplanes are very few. Getting off the aircraft around 20:00 and the humid and hot air outside welcomed us, which recalled the memory of Bali or Shanghai but the difference is that it is in Japan.

We had decided to eat something Okinawa local at the fist night. Tuna is the most desirable food for my wife but unfortunately the local restaurant we wanted to go was crammed with local people. I was so hungry so we switch the direction to a next restaurant.

Untitledオリオンビールではなく、サンザンドスターという発泡酒は非常にさっぱりした味わい。暑い日には軽いぐらいがちょうどいい。
The beer taste is slightly weaker than normal Japanese beer brands’ ones but good enough for my dry throat.

Untitledエビがすごい安くてびっくりしたし、おいしかった。これで450円。
Lots of fried shrimps (~ 30 pieces) cost just 450 yen (~6$), which would cost triple in city. Shrimp is one of major fishing industries in Ishigaki.

Untitledゴーヤチャンプルも苦みがちょうどよくてよかった。
Go-ya, a type of bitter squashes in Okinawa, tastes decent bitter. I liked it very much.

Day 2 – 竹富島での静かな空の劇場 –
Day 2 – Arts of cloudy skies in a small island-

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竹富島の人口はたったの326人、島の周囲はたったの9.2kmしかない。琉球の建造物が国の重要文化財として保護されていて、この八重山諸島のでも人気の島である。

朝にフェリーで到着して、ひたすら歩いて観光した。
コンドイビーチの水は曇り空に負けずに水色に透き通っていて、カイジビーチでは人々は雨にも負けずに星の形をした砂粒を探している。

僕がこの島で、そしてこの旅で最も感動したのは西桟橋。沖に向かって突き出た細い船着き場。

・・・

とても静かで、おだやかな波の音と森の動物の声しか聞こえない。

そして夕日が名物と聞いていたが、名物は曇り空の間違えではないかと思ったほど、美しい空の色の移り変わりを見ることが出来た。その芸術は薄く淡い水色の昼間の空に始まり、徐々に太陽の光が水面に落ちて来た。突如オレンジやピンクの色の雲も仲間に加わり観客を驚かせ、最後は銀河のような神秘的な青色になり幕を閉じた。

夜は宿で静かに過ごし、翌朝には眠い目をこすってまた西桟橋に行き、また朝の静寂を楽しんだのである。

Taketomi island, a tiny island with diameter 2 km length, is our travel destination from the central island Ishigaki. Taketomi is popular with domestic and international tourists for its traditional architectural village. However, what most moved me was not the village itself, but the virtue of real nature.

First of all, we went down to Kondoi beach, where light blue ocean sparkled even in a cloudy day. The next residing beach Kaiji has unique formed sand (actually not sand but kind of seashell) looks like stars.

We came over to what I think the most beautiful place on the island – the west wharf. There was silent except the whisper of birds, and the sound of winds and waves. It is said that the sunset there is the most beautiful scene of the place, but I don’t believe so: the sunset clouds. It was like a cinema show. The light blue clouds started to gain the power of sunlight, and it got orange. The orange color was strengthened more and more but the surrounding clouds in contrast wanted dark blue. In the ending, the only opening window to the sun got smaller but brighter and it was perfectly reflected on the sea surface.

The whole sequence of the scenes remained in my mind for long. Needless to say, I woke up at 6 o’clock the next morning to see another face from the west wharf. It was also beautiful.

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