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On the occasion of my surf trip to Amami Oshima, I wanted to visit Tokunoshima, which at the time was supposed to be registered as a World Heritage Site along with Amami Oshima.
With no prior information and no research, I booked my accommodation and rental car online two days in advance and boarded the ferry anyway. The boat left Naze Port at 5:50 in the morning. The fare was 2,400 yen. The boat ride took about three hours. Just as we were leaving the bay, the sun came out and blessed us with the start of a new journey.
I enjoyed the scenery on deck for a while after the ship left port, but once I got into my 2nd class sleeping quarters, I fell asleep and arrived at Tokunoshima in a flash.
Most of the time on any island, I start with a quick tour of the island, visiting some of the major sights. The purpose of this is to get a rough idea of the terrain and the environment, and to get a rough map in my head. This will give you a good idea of the distribution of tourist attractions and where to go and what to do. In addition, when talking with the locals, I can visualize the names of places and places recommended by the locals, and I can ask for more details, which makes the conversation itself more enjoyable. I had expected to be able to see the island and go around it in one day, but my expectations were overturned.
First, I headed north in a counterclockwise direction from the port, checking out the surfing spots along the coast. We checked the coastline, enjoying the unique coastline created by erosion of uplifted coral and the fantastic granite coastline, which is rare in the southern islands.
But this island, with an estimated population of 21,000, is the second largest in the Amami archipelago after Amami Oshima, and is much larger than I had imagined. In the latter half of the day, as sunset was approaching and we were just driving along the perimeter road, I couldn’t check the details of the coastline and was only able to get a very vague idea of the map of the southern part of the island. Even so, on this first day, I was able to get a rough idea of where the surf spots were and a list of possible places to dive. During my stay in Tokunoshima with no waves, I dove many times at selected points in my stock list, enjoying the beautiful underwater scenery and fish, and even saw a sea turtle. As I toured the beaches, I often saw signs like the ones you see in the city warning people to walk their dogs.
What do you mean? But in the evening, when I went to the beach to check on the waves, I came across a scene of cows walking. In Tokunoshima, where bullfighting is a major pastime that has earned the island the nickname “the island of bullfighting,” this is how they train their bulls. The father was probably teaching his daughter how to pull the bull, and both of them seemed to be really enjoying it.
Once the survey of the coastline was completed, we spent our time exploring the inland areas when we were not in the sea. As I wrote in my previous article, the World Natural Heritage area that was inscribed on the list does not include most of the beautiful blue seas and coastlines that are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the southern islands. Instead, the World Natural Heritage area is an unspoiled mountain range that is home to many precious endemic and rare species of plants and animals. The richness of this area can be seen in the road signs. The animal jumping warning signs you sometimes see on this island.
Once I passed by, I asked myself, “What the hell is that monster? What the hell is that thing doing jumping out at me?”, so I turned around and took a picture. The silhouette was that of an endangered species of Ryukyu long-tailed giant rat.
Because the mountains are such a treasure trove of precious flora and fauna, the rainfall is well stored and the island has beautiful clear streams. The problem of water, which is always an inseparable part of a small island, did not seem to be a problem on this island.
Because the river is that rich, the ecosystem of the river is also strong.
There was also a shocking pink dragonfly. These dragonflies don’t seem to be that rare, but I’ve never seen such a bright pink dragonfly before.
Furthermore, Umbuki, which means “valley or cave of the sea,” is connected to the sea 400 meters away, and its water level rises and falls with the ebb and flow of the tide. Moreover, in March 2019, a large sea floor cave was discovered in Umbuki. The cave is currently under investigation as the largest of its kind in Japan, and has attracted worldwide attention for the discovery of precious creatures that only live here.
Although I had a good grasp of the island’s many faces, I hadn’t been able to surf yet, despite having brought my surfboard.
From the first day, I looked all over for a place to surf, but I couldn’t find a good place to surf at this time when the waves were still weak. I went to check both high and low tide, but finally did not see any breaking waves, considering the possibility of tide changes. I would like to talk to local surfers to investigate the surf points. Look for locals who may have such information. Although there are not many people walking around the island, the timing of meals and people at the inn was effective in gathering information.
I repeated the process and eventually found myself in contact with a legendary surfer of the island. Fortunately, he owned a dining bar, so I was able to visit him for a meal and talk with him. He usually doesn’t seem to talk about such things to people outside of the island, but as we spent some time talking, he told me some information that made me wonder if I could enter such a place. He took the time to talk to us and gave us some information.
At the same time, however, I was informed that it would be difficult to make it to Tokunoshima when the swell was weak. I was disappointed to hear that the swell was not going to get stronger, but during our conversation, I heard someone say, “Maybe you can do it on the neighboring island of Okinoerabu. As I was still planning to stay in Tokunoshima, I believed him and decided to cancel my stay the next day and take the ferry to Okinoerabu Island in search of waves.
Born in Shiga Prefecture in 1981. While studying in Whistler, Canada, he became a certified CSIA instructor and the first Japanese freeski instructor to receive the CFSA freeski instructor certification. After returning to Japan, he expanded his activities to include backcountry skiing in addition to participating in numerous freeskiing competitions. For the past few years, he has been working at Tomamu Ski Resort in Hokkaido, giving ski lessons, guiding, managing events, and acting as an MC. He also travels abroad every spring to try his hand at high adventure mountain climbing, and expresses his experiences through videos, photos, and events. He is the representative of the guide company “RIKI JAPOW GUIDE”.
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