an island hop

Ok that’s it, from now on we travel in the off season, I know the weather’s gonna be crap and I know that we may not see the place at it’s “best”, but you know what there is something to be said for the lack of crowds and the unpredictable weather! I have to make a small confession though, I do have a bit of a thing for stormy skies and strong winds. Living in Tokyo though has also given a bit of a pain in the arse when it comes to crowds!

So we just had mid-winter break, it’s short and resembles more of a long weekend, but it’s holiday and time to spend exploring together. I always tell the kids it’s another adventure and life is full of them if you open your eyes. So we had to pick where to go, now here I am going to have to confess (yet again) that I am a very lucky woman, I am married to a man with a travellers soul, when we are on holiday he knows where to go and what to see, when we are trying to decide on where to go he has endless options for us and a temptation to go to every single one! This man cannot sit still! I didn’t know he was a wonderer when I met him but it’s one of those things that make him him and I love it!

So back to choosing, we opted for somewhere where there would be no crowds, thats the thing about Japan its a gorgeous country, but trying to find a quiet slice of it is hard work, the Japanese love to travel and they travel within Japan a lot! So we looked at what most people do for mid-winter break and found out that that was things such as skiing, or going to see the snow monkeys (in the thousands). So we looked in the opposite direction and decided to travel to the islands of Ishigaki, Taketomi and Iriomote, which belong to the Yaeyama Island group. There are 12 islands in total in the group and we saw 3 of them. Japan is a big place! The Yaeyama Islands are the remotest part of Japan from the main islands and contains Japan’s most southern and most western inhabited islands. Ishigaki is the second largest in the group and is the one we flew into and where we placed our bags. It has that island feel but it still has a very strong organised, clean and well functioning Japanese feel to it, I would not call it a relaxed island getaway, but it is beautiful with its coral covered coast line and tropical rainforest interior.

Our first stop was inevitable with kids, it was the hotel beach!

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 Writing this now and posting these photographs while sitting at home with two ill kids makes me want to hop straight back on a plane!

For our first adventure the wind was howling and the skies were stormy, Lisa kept crying because the wind would blow her over but daddy was there to keep her safe, which is lucky cause mommy was stuck behind the big black box again!

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One morning we got up and out early to catch the ferry to Taketomi island. This was my favourite of the 3 islands and would definitely make a fun 2 night stay! The beaches on this island are white sand and turquoise waters and they below in magazine brochures. Going in the off season meant that there were not a lot of people on the beach and we could stay and play for a while and I could snap away at the scene in front of me.

I will confess something here (I seem to be doing that a lot lol) but I am a picture taker and not a photo maker, I know that it should be the other way around but for now this is where I am, I have one eye on the scene, one hand on the camera and the other eye and hand on the kids lol! So for the moment I will need to be content with snapping!

Anyway back to Taketomi, well worth a visit and you can walk around the whole island it is that small, however if you are a little more lazy or in need of some adventure you can tour the island by water buffalo drawn carts. The village itself is small and all the houses are made of stone it is a good place to meander around and has a lot of little funky pieces of character to be found.

Once upon a time before I arrived in Japan and I was surfing the web doing some research about the country before arriving a stupid clueless foreigner, I came across a book called “memoirs of a vending machine” which I thought was really odd until I actually started travelling around Japan and now I completely understand – its a Japanese thing and I am now in love with vending machines myself! – If you want to know why well you better visit Japan then!

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So how many people are scared of Japanese food? Come on raise your hands! I am always surprised by how many people are worried about food in Japan, I have lived in many different countries now and I have to admit I am honestly never worried about food in Japan! There may be some funky things here and there, and things that I cannot honestly figure out what they are, but I will try most things and my adventurous other half will try everything! Travelling with kids though I know can be a little daunting but to be honest I believe its good to expose your kids to many different things and every once in a while they will try something and they will like it and you probably will be shocked! There of course is always rice, I’m lucky that both my kids love sticky rice, there is always fish here which my kids love too and they love little whole fish now too and they love sushi and you can always find fruit!  Japanese food is considered the healthiest in the world and with this countries obsession with cleanness you honestly cannot go wrong, there is a good meal around every corner!

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Well I better wrap this up! I realise this post is looooooong and a complete over share, but you know what I don’t really care haha cause its too much fun!

We did make a trip over to Iriomote island as well but I have no photographs to prove it and there is a silly reason for that, the day we woke up to travel there the wind was howling, I knew that the ferry ride would be longer and I was expecting a big ferry and fun journey with the kids, however the ferry was the same small ferry that had taken us to Taketomi and this time we were travelling in open sea for 40 minutes and my knuckles hurt by the time I got off the boat! It was terrifying, I felt as though I was in a washing machine and although I tried to take photographs to distract myself it was no use so I gave up, clung to my kids and held on for dear life! I have to admit here though that I am a little bit of a wuss and looking around at all my Japanese fellow passengers who were dozing during the trip I feel much more like a wuss than ever before, it didn’t lessen my grip though. Once on the island the wind picked up more and all I could think of was the ferry ride back! The island itself was beautiful, very green and dense and beautifully wild but I was so happy to get my body and my kids and hubbie back onto Ishigaki!

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Back on Ishigaki we had a day and a half more to travel around and explore:

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Time is something we all get in equal amounts, no one can take an hour away from you and no one can give you an extra one, rich or poor we all get the same amount of hours in any day, it is our most precious commodity and we need to cherish it and make the most of it. I hope that you too will get to explore a bit this year and remember that you don’t need to go when it’s considered the “best” time, there is no such thing, enjoy everything with open eyes and an open heart!

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So until the next adventure have fun all of you out there! Here in Japan it is now spring and the Sakura (cherry blossom) season has just ended so summer to close by, the weather is beautiful and the days are bright and there is lots to explore! If you plan on travelling to Japan I highly recommend it, if you have been here before and have posts of your own about some fantastic Japan travel spots please pop a link in the comments cause I would love to see them!

Happy exploring!

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