Japan Times feature on Taketomi Island

A travel feature “Easy does it on Taketomi” by Stephen Mansfield is in today’s edition of The Japan Times newspaper and it contains the following paragraph:

“The music of the Yaeyama Islands appears to have developed along its own trajectory. According to Okinawan music specialist John Potter, who hails from England but now calls Itoman on the main island of Okinawa his home, the relative poverty of the Yaeyamas precluded all but the wealthy from owning musical instruments. This led to a culture of unaccompanied vocalizing, typically while working in the fields. The flutes and drums used in the sacred festivals of the Yaeyamas — islands whose links to Taiwan and trading nations like Vietnam and Malaysia were as strong through history as those to mainland Japan — are apparently the same as those used in Southeast Asia.”

Blue heaven: Ishigaki Island forms the horizon from Taketomi

Thanks to Stephen for the mention and also for recommending The Power of Okinawa: Roots Music from the Ryukyus as “the definitive work on the subject.” The full feature can be read online here at The Japan Times website:


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3 Comments on “Japan Times feature on Taketomi Island”

  1. toranosuke Says:

    Thanks for the link. I’ve been wanting to visit Taketomi for a long time; I hope I get to do so soon. I recently heard a presentation about Tanadui Matsuri which made me all the more excited to want to visit.

    What do you think about the new resort that’s just opened on the island? A friend of mine who is from the Yaeyamas tried to organize petitions to stop the resort from being built, claiming that it would put too much pressure on the island (e.g. think about how much garbage the resort produces, how much water it uses, how much electricity, and the impact of an increased number of tourists coming and going when the residents themselves are so few)… Now that the resort is open, do you think we should worry? Do you think it’ll be okay? Or do you think we should rush to go visit before everything changes irrevocably?

    • It’s a few years since I last visited Taketomi and I didn’t know about the new resort until reading your comment. Apparently, the building has been done to blend in as far as possible with the surroundings and so there isn’t any massive resort hotel on the scale of some of those on the larger islands. However, I have to say that any news of resorts on Taketomi – or on any of the Ryukyu islands – comes as something of a disappointment. Okinawa already has more than enough resorts, and the first hotels were also added to Kohama and Iriomote islands in recent years. I may be down in the Yaeyama islands later this summer so will investigate further. I hope that nothing “changes irrevocably” on Taketomi but we will have to wait and see.

  2. Lyndie Says:

    lovely article – I can’t wait to visit there again!!

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