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Taketomi: The Bougainvilleas Island

Taketomi: The Bougainvilleas Island

It’s early morning in Okinawa and the sky is already ocean blue. Without any hesitation, we jump right away in the first boat direction the paradise: the Taketomi Island! It’s only 10 minutes travel from Ishigaki Island.

Ferry for Taketomi
Ferry for Taketomi.

Taketomi Island

This little island (300 residents only) survives exclusively thanks to tourism. In November, the number of residents is the same as the number of tourists! And that’s actually… a luck. Today it seems most of the tourists are on beach or touring using the “Buffalo Tours”. I am grateful: the streets are all left to me and are really peaceful. Heaven this is!

Streets of Taketomi
Streets of Taketomi.

In reality, Taketomi is the name of the village in the center of the island. It’s all made of sand path and little stone walls, all very sweet. The houses are typical of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and carefully maintained. It’s a delight for the eyes, especially with the blooming bougainvilleas.

Streets of Taketomi
Streets of Taketomi.


The Cutest Shisa
The Cutest Shisa.


Streets of Taketomi
Streets of Taketomi.


Streets of Taketomi
Streets of Taketomi.




Water Buffalo in Taketomi
Water Buffalo in Taketomi.


Shop in Taketomi
Shop in Taketomi.


Taketomi Bear Craft
Taketomi Bear Craft.


Taketomi Tower
Taketomi Tower.


Nagomi Tower
Nagomi Tower.
Bicycle in Taketomi
Bicycle in Taketomi.

japan, japanese, kyushu, okinawa, taketomi



Have you notice the two little cute things in one of the photos above? Those are Shisas. They are everywhere on Taketomi.

Shisa Along The Road
Shisa Along The Road.

The Shisas are some kind of mix between lions and dogs. In Okinawa, they protect the house against evil spirits. They are more fun that our equivalents, crucifix, holy waters and others!

Taketomi House
Taketomi House.

But what’s their story?

Taketomi House
Taketomi House.

In Naha Bay, the Mandanbashi Village was always attacked by a Sea Dragon. He was eating the residents and had a wonderful happy-hellish time destroying everything.

Taketomi Restaurant
Taketomi Restaurant.

One day, when the King was around, the local priestess sent him a boy with a message. The Sea Dragon attack is imminent but the King owns special item to get rid of it: a necklace, present of a Chinese emissary, that he always keeps under his clothes. And this necklace has a small figurine: a Shisa. .

Taketomi House
Taketomi House.

The king, however, doesn’t take this message seriously. The little boy has therefore no choice: he undressed him and ran to the cliff with the precious necklace. He waited the Sea Dragon there and when it finally arrived, he raised the little Shisa figurine up in the air. Right away, it started roaring with a phenomenal strength! Gigantic stones felt from the sky right on the tail of the dragon, blocking him. Not being able to move, he then died slowly. The village was saved.

Taketomi House
Taketomi House.

Ever since, the grass, plants and even trees have grown where the stones are. You can still see it near the Ohashi Bridge.

Taketomi Post Office
Taketomi Post Office.

This has to be said but nobody actually knows the real story for sure. But people are certain of one thing: it is the Chinese Shisa that got rid of this cumbersome monster, somehow.

Taketomi House 1
Taketomi House.

Now, Shisas are everywhere in Okinawa. On Taketomi, they are almost on the roof of every single house, protecting the people. But isn’t it because they are actually so cute?

Roof Shisa 4
Roof Shisa 4.


Roof Shisa 3
Roof Shisa 3.


Roof Shisa 2
Roof Shisa 2.


Roof Shisa 1
Roof Shisa 1.


Acalypha Hispida
Acalypha Hispida.


The Beach

Taketomi owns a very quiet and relaxing beach. And it hides millions of little treasures.

Kaijihama Entrance
Kaijihama Entrance.

The sand is full of little stars!

Star Sand Beach
Star Sand Beach.

Those little stars are in fact foraminifera exoskeleton. Foraminifera once lived in the sea around here. They are one of the oldest fossils known.

Star Sand
Star Sand.

If you want to see them, put the palm of your hands on the wet sand, raise it and look at it carefully: you should see a lot of little stars…

Kondoi Beach Panorama
Kondoi Beach Panorama.

They are also sold in little jars but, unfortunately, buying those with contribute to their extinction. Please have a cold beer on the beach instead 🙂

Kondoi Beach
Kondoi Beach.


Taketomi Beach Cat
Taketomi Beach Cat.


Kondoi Beach - White Sand
Kondoi Beach.


Pikachu Sculpture
Sculpture of Pikachu.

This day will never be forgotten. It is my best memory in Okinawa and one of my best of my overall Japan experience.

Translated by Julien Wolff and corrected by Jordy Meow.

  • I loved Taketomi as well. 🙂
    But, wow! There are almost no people in your photos. When I visited, it was super crowded!! ^^;

    • I went in November! There was almost nobody on the island and I actually thought it was always like this 🙂 Do you have a photo to share with a lot of people on it? I am really curious to see!

      • Usually I try to take photos without people, so I don’t have that many, but here are two.
        I went there pretty early. It got much more crowded in the afternoon. 😉

  • Cookies Sama

    je n’es jamais comprise pourquoi les fleurs étaient fluos. mm avec mon appareil pro, je n’arrive pas à l’enlever . par contre j’adore toujours autant tes photos !
    mais voila c’est a toi que j’aurais du le demander : est ce qu’il existe des moulins à eaux ou autres au japon !
    bonne continuation ! et …. oh pikachu et ce bleu ! ça me donne envie d’y aller ! tu me vends du rêve mon cher !

    • C’est l’article en Anglais ici, tu as vu qu’il était en français aussi ? En fait, pour les moulins à eau… oui bien-sûr 😉 Je les adore, alors en voilà un au Japon : !

      • Cookies Sama

        oui j’avais vu xD
        genial !! j’en cherchais partout des moulins ! tu m’as bien aider . merci beaucoup !
        bon ça va il ressemble aux nôtres !

  • Valdecio Fadrini

    No meu país eu conheci essa ilha pelo programa “As Lindas Paisagens do Japão” infelizmente não é mais exibido gostei de ver essas imagens elas me trouxeram boas lembranças obrigado.

  • SpinFrostX12 .

    Epic Beautiful village! The environment just make me impressed, i wish i live there!

    • It’s my dream to live there, surrounded by all my friends! I should make an evil plan to buy that island or something 😉

  • Andy Choi

    thanks for the post and all the helpful info., where did you find the pikachu? ^^;


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.