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I have a TON of pictures from this trip, not including some of the ones Kenji took, so I’ll go day-by-day and just warn people that even then these will be picture-heavy posts!

For me, Iriomote was one of the many places in Japan I’ve always wanted to go. Most people have never heard of the islands, but thanks to a little manga/comic series called Azumanga Daioh! I’d heard about the islands and become interested. It is one of the last surviving true wildernesses in Japan, an area of natural beauty not crossed by powerlines as most of the rest of the country is. Pristine beaches and wilderness, and they even have their own breed of cat. What’s not to like?

Amazingly, Kenji wanted to go too. So we booked tickets for Golden Week three months in advance, and waited excitedly for the trip. I was more keen on Iriomote than Korea, so when the day finally arrived to go I was SO ready!

Iriomote is the largest island in the Yaeyama Islands, the very southern-most (and westernmost I believe) island cluster in Okinawa prefecture all the way at the end of Japan. Let’s put it into perspective: These islands are closer to Taiwan than Japan. To get to Iriomote, we took a taxi from our home to Shinmachi station, took the train into Tokyo then transfered to get to Haneda airport. The plane ride was around two to two and a half hours to get to Naha, Okinawa. Then from Naha, we took another plane, about 45 minutes, to get to the airport on Ishigaki island, the main transportation hub of the Yaeyama islands. We then took a taxi from the airport to the dock, and rode a ferry for an hour to get to Iriomote. So pretty much the entire day was spent traveling.

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Morning sunrise. Yup, we were pretty much up to see it.

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First train of the day, around two hours to Tokyo before another transfer.

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Beginning of rush hour on the Tokyo trains. This isn’t even as bad as it could be…

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Blue water and coming into Naha… we’re half-way there!

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Leaving Naha and heading further south!

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Ishigaki! Such beautiful water and reefs. I love the middle picture, with the plane’s shadow on the surface.

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Arrival at Ishigaki’s teeny tiny airport! It says “O-ri To-ri” in the first picture, or “welcome” in Yaeyaman dialect.

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From there, a good-natured taxi ride to the port, where we waited to board our ferry to Uehara, the city our hostel was in.

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It took them awhile to unload all the pineapples!

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The windows of the ferry were super scratched up, so no good pictures from that.

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First views of Iriomote… FINALLY!

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Our place to stay was close to the docks, less than 2 minutes walk. We noted the supermarket across from it… handy!

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Tracks leading to our … well, I hesitate to call it a hostel even. It was basically a room with two beds, and had other people been there, a shared bathroom. It was small and the beds were hard, but it was cheap, which was what we wanted! (And probably even then paid 1000 yen too much for it!)

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But it was right next to a private sort of beach!

We didn’t have time to hit any of the sights, and we were pretty tired, so we rested awhile once we got to our room, then headed out in the late-afternoon sun to explore the beach and the streets a little bit.

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Exploring the beach front

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An odd pile of pretty green shells… I took one to bring home, but I must have later left it in the restaurant… 😦

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The picture ninja and some greenery!

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There was almost no one around, and it felt a little like the Jurassic Park movies with the deserted beaches and lush jungle. Fun!

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There was a lot of trash on the beach, washed up with the tides, and no one to clean it up. Sad.

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Starting to head home at this point, exhausted

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“Mr. Fish”!

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We had the Yaeyaman soba specialty, which was very good!

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Sunset meant showers and turning in. We went to be SO early every night, combination of nothing else to do and poor sleep overall.

Ahh, just posting this makes me want to go back already!

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