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  • PAPERSKY #21 OKINAWAPHOTOGRAPHY: JIRO FUJITA

Rainbow Blue Ocean in the Okinawan Yaeyamas

, 2007/04/25

Just seconds before our flight swooped down to make its routine emergency brake landing on Ishigaki island’s short airport runway, all the passengers sat in stunned silence. Everyone next to a window pressed their faces to the glass to get a view of the most incredibly beautiful ocean in the world. The waters surrounding the Yaeyama island chain shimmer across a thousand shades of blue. It is an ocean that makes a seven-colored rainbow seem bland.

Welcome to Yaeyama islands, the southernmost inhabited area of Japan. It is an area that could well claim its real neighbors to be Taiwan and the Philippines rather than distant Okinawa Honto and even more distant Honshu. Yaeyama is a place where warm breezes blow in the hearts of the inhabitants, where love and peace flourish. Upon arrival the astute traveler will be quick to note that Yaeyama and Okinawa Honto are a world apart, separated by the same distance of space and culture that has been preserved by inhabitants for over eight centuries.

In this issue of PAPERSKY we traveled to three of the Yaeyama islands: Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi. Each offers a unique experience. On Ishigaki we walked the streets with musician Takashi Nagazumi (Hanaregumi) and created a PAPERSKY guide book of some of our favorite places and people. On Iriomote we journeyed with a Bull Terrier into the island’s paradisiacal wilderness, traveling by kayak, on foot and doing a bit of camping along the way. At our final stop on Taketomi, PAPERSKY teamed up with the outdoor brand Columbia to give you an inside look at this spiritual, historic, beautiful island that is fighting hard to become Japan’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ganbatte Taketomi-jima!

PAPERSKY #21: OKINAWA Dog Trip

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