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5 Charms of the Southernmost Point of Japan, Hateruma Island

Hateruma Island is at the southern end of Japan, and is a popular tourist destination that makes a journey feel special. Here are five selected highlights to help you relax and have fun on Hateruma Island.


1. Takanazaki

Takanazaki is on Hateruma Island, and it's the southernmost point of Japan. A kilometer-long precipitous cliff spreads out over the cobalt blue waves that beat roughly against the shore. You'll forget about the time as you look at the beautiful scene of the wide Pacific Ocean. Ryukyu limestone made of coral and seashell is scattered along the shore, therefore it is wise to bring sneakers as it can be dangerous if you wear sandals. Located close by is Japan’s southernmost monument. This monument was made by a student who walked through Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa around 1970. Ja No Michi, a path of stones collected from all over Japan, is also a good place to see.
This place is unforgettable and make you feel the spirit of nature.

2. Taketomi-cho Hateruma Island Star Observatory Tower

Star Observatory Tower is the southernmost astronomical observatory in Japan, opened in April 1994. Because there are no lights or houses around the observatory, an astonishing number of stars can be seen. The roof of the observation dome opens and shuts, and with its 200 mm refracting-lens telescope you can see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Saturn’s rings. They also have a planetarium on the second floor (*not available due to damage caused by a typhoon as of May 2016).
Gazing at the ocean from the rooftop during the day is relaxing, and at night the star guide is available at around 8:30 pm from April to October, 8:10 pm from November to March. The guide will commence indoors if the weather conditions are bad. From the end of April to the middle of June the Southern Cross, which is a rare sight in Japan, can be seen. The Southern Cross can be found near the horizon. It might be a little hard to find at first, so please ask the guides for help.
This observatory is a highly recommended location for those who want to see an unprecedented number of stars.
Open Hours: Daytime 10:00 am - 12:00 am, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm/ Night time 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm (April to October), 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm (November to March)
Closing Day: Monday
Admission Fee: Adults (High School students and over) 400 JPY, Child 200 JPY

2. Taketomi-cho Hateruma Island Star Observatory Tower

3. Nishihama

Nishihama is a beach located in the northwest on Hateruma Island. It's written with the characters for "north beach," because in Okinawa "north" is pronounced "nishi," whereas in the rest of Japan it's "kita." The reason for Nishihama’s domestic fame is its beautiful scenery. The sight of beautiful smooth white sand, the deep "Hateruma Blue" ocean, and the navy blue sky will make you sigh. Time passes slowly, and your soul will feel like it's been cleansed as you gaze upon scenery that continually changes its appearance over time. Relaxing in the water is great, or you may even have a chance to meet the sea turtles if you go snorkeling. The beach has free shower and bathroom facilities, but they do not have vending machines or shops so it is wise to bring your own food, drinks and snorkel items, amongst other things.
This is a special location that offers outstanding scenery and the chance for a peaceful moment.

4. Awanami

Awamori, available in every liquor store in Okinawa, is a local alcoholic drink made by fermenting Thai rice with koji mold. The difference between other domestic alcohols like Japanese sake (made from rice with yellow koji) and shochu (made from white koji with potato/barley) is that awamori uses black koji. Using Thai rice and black koji, the process adds water and yeast to ferment and turn them into unrefined alcohol, and then distills the unrefined alcohol to create awamori. Awamori aged more than 3 years is called "kusu" and is treasured.
Awanami is a very special kind of awamori made at the Hateruma Sake Brewery. It is rare, except on Hateruma Island, as awanami is mainly sold locally and has limited production. It is strong, containing 30 percent alcohol, but is refreshing and easy to drink. Like other kinds of awamori, the standard way to enjoy awanami is to dilute it with water, but drinking it on the rocks or mixing it with soda is also delicious. Since awanami is very tasty, please be careful not to over drink.

5. Izakaya Agan

Agan is "potato" in the dialect of Hateruma Island. Izakaya Agan is said to be the southernmost izakaya (Japanese-style bar) in Japan, and is always busy with local people and travellers. Orthodox Okinawan food, like goya champuru (bitter melon stir-fry), ninjin shirishiri (stir-fried carrots), and shio yakisoba made with yaeyama noodles, is very popular. Above all, the number one dish of this izakaya is fish sashimi, which is caught in the nearby sea. Some say that the fish of the southern ocean is not as delicious as those from the north since it's so warm that the meat isn't as tight, but the sashimi offered here is fresh and delicious! It feels luxurious to enjoy sashimi with freezing cold Orion beer, which cools the hot, sun-burned body. A 540ml bottle of awanami, that rare kind of awamori, can be purchased for 2,000 JPY. To drink and communicate with local people and other travelers would definitely be a great memory to make on your journey.

*The photo is for illustration purposes.

This island is located in the southernmost point of Japan. Its charm is above all its gorgeous natural environment and the kindness of its local people. Hateruma Island is a location everyone should visit at least once.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: masuda

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