300 Mickey mice vol.1
You can over look all the island from top of the observation tower "Nagomi
no tou" placed in the center of the island. Taketomi Island is 9 km
around. The population is 300. The 1/3 of the population is over 70 years
old. The scenery of the island is conserved by the regulation. A white
sandy road which has almost no cars, a stone wall, a red tiled roof, an
animal shaped sculpture "Seaser", a slow life and a beautiful
ocean, everything you can imagine from the word "scenery of Okinawa"
is there. You can play the "Sanshin", Okinawan traditional guitar
with three strings, or see the sun setting behind the neighbor island,
Iriomote. You see the beautiful star ocean as if you could fall into it
when you laid on the pier and looking up the sky.
In early morning, residents get start the new day with sweeping white sandy street. Then at 9 am, tourists come from Ishigaki Island which is the bigger island in 6km distance. And you can hear the "Asadoya yunta", one of the most popular Okinawan folk song, with the sanshin guitar all day long. Because island tour guides on sightseeing carriage with buffalo play the song without exception. When the sun goes down, tourists go back to Ishigaki Island from the port. At the same time, over night tourists go down to the pier on the other side of the island, and see the beautiful sunset.
The roads are swept again by the residents at end of the day.
I spent a week in such slow life. "A whole week, nothing makes me
busy. It might be like a heaven?" But some how, we think too much
when we get plenty of time. I thought of Taketomi Island. Then I got feeling
thick air for the warmhearted community. Perhaps it's caused by the fact
Taketomi Island was the famous tourist resort which receive 250 thousands
visitors every year.
Add to that, the peculiarity of the island was that the daily lives of
resident itself are attractions for the tourists. In another words, there
are 300 Mickey mice in Taketomi, and they gave us the fun. A roads was
always cleaned up, a local event and festival was opened to the tourists,
a guest house owner "Old Mickey" played the sanshin for the guests
every night. The thing which makes me feel unrest might be this "theme
The more I tried to get into the daily life of the residents, the more
I got to know I'm a tourist, stranger.
"Nagomi no tou" Taketomi Island, Okinawa, Japan 2002