For Nate's 33rd birthday, we decided to take a quick 15 minute ferry ride over to Taketomi-jima. The island is quite small and the residences (only 323 in 2012 #thankswikipedia) have kept traditional Ryukyu houses with red kawara (tiled) roofs, coral walls, and shiisa statues. The roads are made up of crushed coral and add to the laid back feel of the island. The island is less than 3 km wide, and less than 3.5 km from north to south. #tinybutcute
Since the island is so small, we decided to rent bikes for $3/hr and start exploring! #youcancalluslouisandclark #islandexploring #icantrememberthelasttimeirodeabike #fingerscrossedidontcrash
Our first stop was the picturesque white sand Kondoi Beach located on the west coast of the island.
Next, we rode our bikes south to Kaiji-hama (hama is Japanese for beach), also known as 'Star Sand Beach'. 'Star sand' isn't actually sand. It's the remains of tiny star-shaped crustations, barely exceeding a millimeter in diameter. Since it's so popular, it usually takes a lot of time to find it on the beach. So we took the easy way out and bought a tiny jar from the locals #supportlocals #easywayout #stillprettyneat
Next, we rode our bikes into the center of 'town' (super tiny) to grab some lunch. I had a tempura bowl and Nate had some friend chicken, soup, and rice. After exploring a bit more, we turned our bikes in and headed back on the ferry to Ishigaki.
For dinner, we decided to check out a local favorite sushi restaurant I had read about and heard about from our dive master and hotel, Hitoshi. We arrived on time for our reservations and were promptly sat at some seats upstairs. We started out with some sake, plum wine, and sashimi platter.
Unfortunately, things did not go well after our drink and sashimi order. The waitress we originally had was somewhere else. The other waiter we had was not a fan of us (#gaijin). We tried to order some more small dishes and the whole time taking our order we received disgusted looks. And she took my sake when I had only finished half of it.... After waiting 45+ minutes for our second order, countless dirty looks every time our waiter walked by, and after everyone around us had received their food, paid their check, and left, we were officially getting a little offended. Needless to say, as soon as we received our second dish, we asked for our check, paid, and left to go finish dinner somewhere else.
Throughout our whole time in Okinawa, we have never experienced any type of hostility and have seen nothing but kindness and friendliness from the locals. It was a bit of a shock. And to be honest, I think it was important for us to go through experiences like this. Being born white, and in America, we have no idea what others may have to go through when visiting (and living) in our country. I feel like it was a humbling experience, and just a small taste of what many people probably have to encounter on a daily basis. Main takeaway: always treat others with respect and kindness. Regardless of race, whether they speak the language, skin color, age, gender, sexuality, etc (the list goes on and on). #loveeachother #respectoneanother
Ok, I'll get off my soap box. Not being ones to let this ruin our night or Nate's birthday. We chalked it up to an important life experience and reminder of how to treat others, and headed off to another local bar, the Banana cafe. Here we enjoyed some more food and drinks for Nate's birthday including interacting with some more locals. One man was particularly interested in baseball and how tall Nate is. We had to convert to him in centimeters. (in case you're wondering, 193 centimeters. This was very impressive to the locals)
Next, the receptionist at our hotel recommended a little reggae bar called Cocos One. It was a tiny, dark little bar covered in old records. Good vibe. We made friends with some locals and the bartender and got to try yummy, homemade coffee awamori.
After that we found a little dart bar where we went in and played a few rounds. We finally ended our night at a little karaoke bar. The only other people inside were two older Japanese men. One of them wanted to duets in English songs with me the rest of the night which I thoroughly enjoyed. #popstarinthemaking! After singing our little hearts out, we headed back to our hotel, feeling like we had sufficiently celebrated Nate's big 3-3!
Follow in our Footsteps:
Ferry to Taketomi
Time: 10-15 mins
Price: ¥580 (one way)
Service: 47-50 times/day
Kanihu (Lunch spot)
〒907-1101 Okinawa-ken, Yaeyama-gun, Taketomi-chō, Taketomi, 竹富町字竹富494
Hours: 11am-4pm, 6:30pm-9pm
〒907-0022 Okinawa Prefecture, Ishigaki, 大川197-1
Hours: 5pm-11:30pm (Sunday closed)
〒907-0022 沖縄県石垣市 大川269-8-1 F
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!