On May 8, some tabloid magazines reported that Japanese famous actress Satomi Ishihara and IT company SHOWROOM president Yuji Maeda took a trip together to Taketomi Island(竹富島), Okinawa Prefecture.
Why are so many celebrities attract to Taketomi Island?
On this article, we will introduce Taketomi Island, Japan's hidden Paradise Island for an A-list gateway!
Where is Taketomi Island?
Taketomi Island is one of the Yaeyama Islands(八重山諸島), Okinawa Prefecture. Taketomi Island is located 4 kilometers south of Ishigaki Island(石垣島). The island has a village in the center, also named Taketomi(竹富). Taketomi is a raised coral atoll. The island is circular in shape, and is surrounded by coral reefs. Taketomi Island is part of Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, established in 1972.
Taketomi Island is known for its "traditional Okinawan" houses, stone walls, and sandy streets, making it popular with tourists. Various rules are in place to prevent the more aesthetically displeasing aspects of modern construction from ruining the beauty of the island, such as replacing hand-packed stone with concrete walls.
Popular tourist activities include relaxing at the beach, snorkeling, taking an ox-cart ride through the village, and simply walking or biking around the island while enjoying the quaintness of the village and the natural scenery.
It is recognized by academics that Taketomi's "traditional" landscape is a modern product. Today Taketomi's houses are known for visually appealing red-tiled roofs. However, commoners were prohibited from building houses with roof tiles by Ryūkyū on Okinawa until its abolishment. The red-roofed house first appeared on Taketomi Island in 1905 and remained a symbol of wealth for decades. As late as in 1964, truly traditional thatched houses accounted for 40% of Taketomi's houses. Red-tiled roofs spread in parallel with the conservation movement.
Water buffalo tours
A trip to Taketomi is all about taking it easy and its most popular tourist attraction of taking a tour on a water buffalo driven cart reflects this. Tourists can be taken on 30 minutes water buffalo cart tour of Taketomi Village accompanied by a guide who plays Okinawan music on a sanshin(Okinawa stringed instrument). You may notice that the guides rarely offer guidance to the water buffalo who know their routes by heart. Also we highly recommend you rental bicycles!
- Address: Taketomi 97, Taketomi Island, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture
- Reservation: +81-980-85-2103
- Price: 【Water Buffalo Tours】Adult: 1200yen / Child: 600yen 【Rental Bicycles】300yen(1 hours)
The island is also famous for its beautiful beaches and hoshizuna(星砂), meaning "star-sand", which is composed of the remains of Foraminifera. Kaiji Beach(カイジ浜) is known as “the beach of sand-stars.” As the name suggests, you can find sun- and star-shaped shells along the white beach. These are not bleached coral but foram shells!
“Hoshinoya Taketomi Island(星のや竹富島)” is a luxury resort hotel that preserves the atmosphere of Taketomi Island, a place rich in tradition and history, and uses the island’s strict zoning rules to its advantage.
- Address: Taketomi, Taketomi Island, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture
- Reservation: +81-50-3786-1144
Access to Taketomi Island
Three ferry companies operate high speed ferries and an infrequent car ferry, between Ishigaki Island(石垣島) and Taketomi Island. Boats depart every 30 minutes between 7:30 and 17:30 with a short break around noon. The roundtrip fare is 1330 yen, and the one way trip takes 10 minutes by high speed ferry, and 15 minutes by car ferry.
【Ishigaki Dream Tours Co.Ltd】Tel: +81-980-84-3178
【Yaeyama Tourist Ferry】Tel: +81-980-82-5010
【AEI KANKO】Tel: +81-980-83-0055