This is a TV program that broadcasted by NHK last summer (2018). I recorded and watch it repeatedly. The program showed 10-day sea kayak voyage of 230 kilometers by Satoru Yahata, a marine adventurer, from Ishigaki Island, via Kohama Island and Iriomote Island to Yonaguni Island, with a drone. The sparkling ocean is breathtaking.
Yahata was born in Tokyo, but moved to Ishigaki Island 15 years ago. Now he lives with his family in the island. His way of talking on the TV program was gentle, which was different from the image that crossed the sea by a kayak from Australia to Japan, and it gave a clue to his mild personality.
The ocean around the Yaeyama Islands is very clear. Yahata said that sometimes he could see all the way to the bottom of the sea at a depth of 30-40 meters. The scene where Yahata experienced a traditional fish-catching method in Kohama Island was impressive as well. The fisherman appeared in the program had a muscular build naturally created by years of fishing. Yahata was impressed with the fisherman’s skill that stabbing only fish head with a fishing spear at once. Because fish body must not be damaged to sell them.
In Iriomote Island, Yahata climbed to Mayagusuku Fall, which he said it’s the most beautiful fall in the Iriomote Island. Mayagusuku means wildcats’ castle in Okinawan language. He passed through a jungle for about few hours and he sometimes had to burn a leech that stuck to his leg. To get to the fall, a hidden scenic spot, you need to apply for entering the route, and it is not easily accessible without a guide. The image from above taken by drones was really amazing.
The final destination, Yonaguni Island, which was once said to be difficult to get there because the open sea is rough. Yahata left the Iriomote Island at 4:30 in the early morning and finally managed to arrive at the Yonaguni Island at 19:50 by sunset. So he kept rowing for 15 hours. When he was hungry, he ate a rice ball. It was a hard crossing that when he was about to get heatstroke, he soaked in the seawater to cool down his body and started to row again.
The program was repeated recently. If it will be repeated again, please watch it. You will surely feel comforted with the refreshing images. (H.S)
Yahata stands on the big coral in the sea of Shiraho, Ishigaki Island. The coral seems to be about 300 years old. Its upper part is dry and hard, so it’s okay to stand on. (Generally, you must not step or touch corals.)
The sea of Yaeyema from a drone.
Yahata’s kayak looks small.
Yahata is kayaking.
[Video] Kayaking in Iriomote Island (5’50”)
In the beginning, Yahata is giving a tutorial on paddling.