Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Strolling in Shiraho Village in Ishigaki Island 



As I wrote in our blog last week, the Shiraho District, where the little cake shop "PAPIRU" is located, is a quiet traditional village community close to the sea. On this occasion, I took a little stroll around the village. In fact, Shiraho has a long history. In the Shiraho village, over 1,500 people were killed in the 1771 massive tsunami and only a dozen of people survived. But then, they received many immigrants from Hateruma Island and Okinawa's main island. Today, there are over 500 houses and about 1,600 people in the village. Traditional events including a festival to pray for bumper crops are popular there, a big sacred place appeared while walking.


Also, speaking of Shiraho, coral reefs are famous. There is a bountiful lagoon several hundred meter off shore, which there are the largest blue coral community in the Northern hemisphere and more than 120 kinds of coral reefs and colorful fish. (H.S)


Blooming bougainvillea in the village


Shiraho beach is made of corals.


Boatslip by placing rocks simply


The roads in the village is so quiet. The stone walls made of corals and the common garcinia tree are characteristic.


Bus stop in front of Shiraho Elementary Scholl. There is a small and cute shiisa on the red tile.


Had a dinner at an izakaya "Yaeyama-mura" in front of Ishigaki City Hall.


Menus that the izakaya recommends. I ate the most popular one, "Gurukun rice ball", which was really good. Gurukun is fish called double-lined fusilier. Whole fried gurukun is one of popular dishes in Okinawa.


[Video] Go out to the sea of Shiraho, Ishigaki Island, with Sakana-kun (1'49")

A little cake shop in Ishigaki Island "PAPIRU" 



Last weekend, I visited Ishigaki Island. It was a short stay for attending an open-air concert and I hardly did sightseeing. But I absolutely wanted to go to a cake shop called "PAPIRU" in Shiraho District, so I went there. Although I arrived before the shop opened, the owner's wife welcomed me with a smile. I could enjoy a delicious cake and herb tea. When going to Ishigaki Island, I would love to visit the shop again. (H.S)


The appearance of the shop


I had a Mont Blanc.


There is an eat-in Japanese room with a surfboard on the ceiling.


Their recent various cakes
(Photo is from their Facebook page @okasinoie.papiru)


The owner couple moved to Ishigaki Island from Osaka.
(Photo is from PAPIRU's website)  

One of the best sightseeing places in Okinawa | Okinawa World



The Okinawa World (the size of three Tokyo Domes) in Nanjo City is representative tourist spot in the southern part of the main island of Okinawa. Gyokusendo Cave opened in 1972, and the area on the ground was reconstructed and opened in 1996.  


The Gyokusendo Cave is one of the largest caves in Japan, which has more than one million stalactites and a total length of 5000 meters. Only 890 meters of them are currently open to the public. However, when I walked in the cave, it was quite a long and worth seeing. The Gyokusendo Cave has created by nature over three hundred thousand years since ages ago before Homo sapiens was born in Africa.


In the Okinawa World, there are studios of Okinawan glass, pottery and traditional dyeing etc. and you can make them. Also, craft beer and highball with habu's extract by Nanto Brewery there was intriguing. And, Eisa dance performed four times a day is must see. It is exciting and fun, so I highly recommend it. I think that the admission 1,240 yen is a good deal because you can enjoy seeing both the Gyokusendo Cave and the Eisa dance. (H.S)


There were hibiscuses near the entrance of the Okinawa World. Tropical flowers lift up my spirits.


Going deep into the Gyokusendo Cave


Illuminated "Blue Grotto" in the Gyokusendo Cave


BiBi Beach Itoman is near the center of Itoman City. There were no people in the sea, but actually behind me, a beach party was in full swing under a roofed space.


There was a milky tea-colored cat in a shop on Ukishima Street near Kokusai-dori Street. In fact, it is a homeless cat.


A shot of when it started with a fish toy


When I visit Okinawa, I always eat sea grapes (seaweed) and jimami (peanuts) tofu. The Okinawan glass dishes look cool.


A train of "Yui Rail" (Okinawa City Monorail) is entering Omoromachi Station. There are the nation's southernmost and westernmost stations on the Yui Rail Line.


Here is a video of a song called "Shimauta", which was performed at an izakaya "Hatomajima" on the Kokusai-dori Street.

Shurijo Castle | A World Heritage site in Okinawa Prefecture



Last weekend, I went to the main island of Okinawa and stayed in Naha City. Speaking of tourist spots in Naha, the Shurjijo Castle is a must.


This was my third visiting the castle but still it is my favorite place. When I come to the castle, I always feel, "I came to Okinawa!" It is said that the Shurijo Castle is the strongest spiritual spot and a sanctuary in Okinawan feng shui. No wonder I feel full of energy when I visit there.


Although the castle was destroyed by fire in 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa, it was restored as a government-managed park in 1992 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan. And, the existing castle ruin was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.


By the way, the key differences between the Shurijo Castle and ones in mainland Japan are that it has no castle tower and its stone wall is curved. In other words, the Shurijo Castle was one to entertain diplomatic missions from China rather than a fortress. (H.S)


Photo taken from the window of the plane before landing at Naha Airport


Shureimon gate 


Seiden, a symbol of the Shurijo Castle
It is said that the building was modeled on the Forbidden City in China.


The King's Throne, the most popular photo spot inside the castle


The whole castle from the back viewed from the observation area


The town of Shuri viewed from another direction of the observation area


The T-shirt shop on the Kokusai-dori Street is just like Okinawa.


Okinawan folk song live show in a bar "Utahime" on the Kokusai-dori Street
This is an Okinawan folk song called "Tanchame" at my request.

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and plum blossoms



The other day, I went to Fukuoka City for the first time in many years.
And, in my spare time, I went out to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine located in Dazaifu City.


Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on the grave of Michizane Sugawara, who is called the "God of learning", and enshrines Michizane. Michizane Sugawara was born in Kyoto in 845, but he was exiled to Dazaifu because of an innocent sin. He finished his life at the age of 59 there.


A tanka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem) composed by Michizane when he left Kyoto is well known.


The tanka says:
When the wind is in the east, I want it to blow the scent of Japanese plum flowers to me;
even if I disappear from here, you, Japanese plum flowers, do not forget spring.


Although it has passed the peak of plum blossoms, I could see many blossoms and I offered a prayer while thinking of the tanka. (H.S)


Curtains with plum flower crest were installed at Dazaifu Station.


From the busy shrine path to the precinct


Even though it was unfortunately raining that day, there were many tourists mainly from Asia.


The shrine is one of the most beautiful plum blossoms viewing sites in Japan. The rose plum blossoms were bright.


How to use washing water


The Taiko Bridge is a popular spot in the precinct.


"Goshuin" (stamp given at shrines or temples) of the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine


You can go to Kyushu National Museum through the precinct. The museum introduces rich history of cultural exchange between Kyushu and neighboring China and Korea.


Starbucks Dazaifu Omote Sando Shop is another popular spot.


Kengo Kuma, an architect, designed the shop that features the timberwork.