At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Golden Week, a series

Today is the last day of what Japan calls "Golden Week" and I'm slightly sad to see it disappear into the past.  Golden Week is a week of national holidays that enables much domestic and international travel.  It's sort of Japan's spring break (though it doesn't coincide with the spring break that the students get in late March/early April).

こどもの日 (Children's Day) is the last National Holiday during Golden Week.

It was a reminder that I've been in Japan nearly 10 months and that very soon I'll be moving again to a new place, a new job and a new life.  This past week I realized how much I need to do to prepare for the upcoming move and how much more of Ishigaki and the surrounding islands I want to see and experience.  I tried to enjoy some of the natural beauty of this region during the past week.  I have a feeling the next 2.5 months are going to be very busy, so I figured I'd try to fill my vacation days with adventures and sight seeing.

Tourists kayaking on the Urauchi River (Iriomote island)

These islands, where I live, are a destination hotspot for mainland Japanese and some foreigners who know about them.  Yaeyama is remote and has been, in the past, not very easy to travel to.  But thanks to modernity travel is no longer a long, difficult "boat drunk" boat ride through harsh, choppy seas, though it does take several flights to get here. (In a few years, Ishigaki will actually have a very large airport located outside of Ishigaki City so that neither passengers nor Ishigaki residents will have have to fear for their lives whenever a 747 descends to land at the Ishigaki airport).  This somewhat sleepy island and the islands around it are very active during Golden Week.

On vacation

Somehow living and working in an area of the world where most people come to escape from their real lives has made it seem like less of a vacation.  I suppose that's normal.  When you live someplace you grow accustomed to it and unfortunately at times you take it for granted.  I sort of feel like I've been doing that, even though I've been constantly traveling around teaching and experiencing many things.  It just hasn't felt as if I were in a vacation mindset.  So I switched gears this week and decided it was time to explore a few of the islands in depth.  I, along with various friends, visited Taketomi (Taketomi island) (an island I teach on regularly, but which I've never had the opportunity to walk around and explore), Iriomote (for both an onsen experience as well as a kayaking - mountain climbing-waterfall viewing experience) and my very own Ishigaki.

Spring Awakening

I want to write about each of these experiences separately, but for now I'll post a few photos to whet your appetite.  Tomorrow I'll post on Taketomi and try to follow up with Iriomote and Ishigaki island within the week.

Until then, enjoy the scenery!

At the port, on my way...

Another island in the distance

Almost there...

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading about your explorations! It looks so beautiful. I hope to one day travel as much as you have :)