- Mayuka Ueno
【2018 Edition】An Island Surrounded by Beautiful Ocean. 5 Selected Charms of Miyako Island
Miyako Island offers many locations with breathtaking scenery. Here are 5 selected destinations featuring Miyako Island's untouched nature.
1. Yonaha Maehama Beach and other beaches with great scenery
The most significant appeal of Miyako Island is the beautiful ocean that surrounds it on all sides. The island has more than 15 beaches and all of these possess transparent water and beautiful white sand. Each of these beaches also has unique characteristics, so comparing them can be a fun way to enjoy the island. Above all, Yonaha Maehama Beach is known as the most beautiful beach in the orient. Its appearance, with a 7 km long white beach and shining ocean of gradient blue, is astonishing. There are other notable beaches like Boraga Beach, where they offer fun activities like snorkeling and kayaking, and Sunayama Beach, which is popular for its sunset view through a rock arch. From July 2018, efforts will be put into ensuring that almost all of the taxis will be able to handle credit cards. Visit several beaches and find the one that you like!.
*Photos are of Yonaha Maehama Beach and other beaches.
2. Power Spots
Miyako Island is known for the entire island being a power spot (a word coined in Japan for locations with spiritual energy). There are many natural and sacred locations that have been kept in their original form. For example, the cape of Higashi-Hennazaki located at the southeasternmost point of Miyako Island is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and is popular for a sense of divine presence. Gracefully arrayed limestone on an elevated coral reef makes you feel the great power of nature. Okinawa has spiritual locations for prayer called "utaki," and many can also be found on Miyako Island. Most utaki do not allow entry, but Harimizu Utaki, located in a central area of Miyako Island, can be visited. Nearby is Miyako Shrine, a place from which you can gaze out upon the entirety of the port, and we encourage a visit to wish for good luck. There are a variety of islands that can be reached from Miyako Island, but the only one that doesn't have a bridge is Ogami Island, an island so full of nature it's believed a god dwells there. There's also Nanamata Coast, and area known for its 30 m tall elevated coral reef. Please visit and feel the power of nature at these locations.
3. Sky full of stars
Miyako Island is known for having had the finest reviews of its night sky in the entirety of Okinawa. Even the Milky Way can be seen on a good day. Observing from the beach is encouraged, as the stars are seen more clearly without surrounding light. Looking up at a sky full of stars from Yonaha Maehama Beach, a beach so lovely it's called the most beautiful beach in the Orient, is amazing. Other locations recommended for their beautiful night sky views are Higashi-Hennanzaki and Kurima Island, located to the southwest of Miyako Island. During a new moon, and on nights with good weather, there is a better chance of seeing shooting stars.
4. Yukishio Sea Salt
Yukishio Sea Salt comes from the sea water of Miyako Island. It is one of the most popular specialty products of the island. Yukishio Sea Salt contains 18 types of minerals, including sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Makers of this salt are fixated on preserving the bittern coming from the magnesium chloride, and the salt is popular for containing high nutritional value. The manufacturing process and tips for using Yukishio Sea Salt can be learned at the Yukishio Sea Salt Museum (Factory), and products sold only in the factory can be purchased. One final thing you cannot miss at the factory is the Yukishio soft ice cream. It has the faint taste of salt, and it's suggested that you should eat it with flavored Yukishio Sea Salt sprinkled on top. There are many flavors such as wasabi, hibiscus, green tea, and island red pepper, among many others, and these can also be purchased if you like them. We highly recommend trying Miyako Island's specialty salt.
On Miyako Island there is a custom when drinking awamori, an island spirit, called "otori". One person, the "oya" (master of ceremonies) makes a short speech, drinks, and pours awamori in the same cup for the neighboring person. This continues person-by-person down the line. Anything can be said during the speech, as it is used as a way to get to know more about each other. There are many people on Miyako Island who love to drink, and cherish the custom of otori. Getting involved in this custom can be an opportunity to become friends with local people on the island as well as fall more and more in love with the island itself. It is not considered a rude act to refuse, or to have non-alcoholic drinks instead for those who cannot drink alcohol. You can ask to join the otori at places where locals gather, such as an izakaya, a bar, or ask anyone you meet while touring. Why not try the unique custom of otori for a memorable experience on Miyako Island?
Miyako Island is famous for its beautiful ocean, but it’s also an island with many other charms. We assure you that the time spent on this island will be unforgettable.
*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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