Sightseeing in Okinawa: Kuroshima Island - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sightseeing in Okinawa: Kuroshima Island

The Okinawan archipelago was originally an independent nation known as the Ryukyu kingdom until it was annexed to Japan by the Meiji state in 1879. Today 49 of the about 160 islands are inhabited, and the tropical climate makes it a popular tourist destination for Japanese tourists longing for white beaches and crystal blue ocean. It is certainly no wonder why a lot of people refer to the islands as Japan's Hawaii. 
The port at Kuroshima Island
This year I had the chance to go to Okinawa for the Japanese summer holiday known as Obon along with my boyfriend Yuma and his father. As I mentioned in my previous blogpost we spent one day in Ishigaki before we took a ferry (takes about 35 minutes from Ishigaki) to a tiny island called Kuroshima. Although Kuroshima litterarily means Black Island a lot of people refer to it as the "heart island" due to its shape. It is also known as an island that hosts more cattle (approx. 2800) than people (approx. 220)!
A cow statue by the harbor
A ninja-cow on one of the farm buildings
You can easily get around the island if you have a bike-cycle. Some of the Minshuku (Japanese inns) on the island offer free bike-cycle rental when you stay with them, so this is a great opportunity to get around the island and explore everything it has to offer. Although it is a tiny island it even has some roadsigns in English, which makes it even easier to find your way even without knowledge of Japanese.
Tourist sign in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean
There are no police on the island.. Except for this guy ;)
Ikosanbashi (伊古桟橋)
A white toorii by the harbour
If you go to the right by the toorii you'll find this hidden path to the beach
The hidden path to the beach
A big hermit crab I found on the beach. These cute creatures are known as yadokari (宿借 -lit. house borrower) in Japanese!
The hidden beach close to the Kuroshima habour
Although the beach from the photos above was nice and clean there was unfortunately a number of beaches in Kuroshima where you can see a lot of plastic rubbish probably washed up from other nearby islands. This really shows how important it is to make sure that our garbage is disposed properly (or even better: avoid pet bottles etc etc)!
One of the main tourist attractions on the island is the Sea Turtle Research Center located on the west side of the island. Kuroshima's Sea Turtle Research Center was founded in 1973, and has made a great contribution to sea turtle research and conservation. The entrance fee to the center is only 300 yen/person, and in addition to the cute turtles you also get access to a small museum inside the center.

By the entrance to the Sea Turtle Research Center
Different types of turtles (apparently found drowned in fishermen's nets) on display and information about them.
The museum also has a huge collection of coral 
..and shells
From the aquarium part of the research center
Turtle pool outside the research center
The big turtles are kept outside in a large pool, and there are also some small pools for the baby turtles not yet ready to be released into the ocean. You can read more about the Sea Turtle Research  Center on the Ishigaki website.

A small restaurant called Undoya where you can try some local ramen
After a day of sightseeing you might want to visit a restaurant to try out some local dishes. As you might have expected there aren't really that many restaurants to choose from here, but you can still get yourself a decent meal in the few restaurants available. We stopped by a restaurant called Undoya one day, and their ramen was delicious.
Undoya ramen
During our 3 days in Kuroshima we stayed at a Japanese-style inn called Minshuku Kuroshima. It was a small inn run by a couple probably in their late 50s originally from mainland Japan (I guess the husband must have fallen in love with Okinawa and refused to go back to Tokyo). Although the standard at Minshuku inns is simple the place was nice and tidy. The stay included free bike-cycle rental, and the main building had a roof balcony where one could see the stars clearly at night. The owner of the inn was offering both snorkeling and diving trips, and we went along with him on diving trips a couple of times.
Minshuku Kuroshima
Kuroshima is a great base for people interested in underwater activities in Okinawa, and is definitely among the things I would recommend for a stay here although I haven't added any pictures from our diving/snorkeling trips to this post. Feel free to check out the links below for more information about Kuroshima:

Other pages:
Minshuku Kuroshima @ Rakuten: English or Japanese

Other blogposts:
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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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