Thanks to a last-minute invite from a friend I finally got the chance to take part in an evening of stargazing at Japan's southernmost observatory. Definitely recommended even if you only have a passing interest in astronomy.
You don't have to be interested in aircraft to find the view of jets soaring above Maezato's main intersection impressive. This weekend I finally got around to taking some shots of my favourite 'man-made' sight on the island.
Today Banna park had something special waiting for me in one of its forest clearlings - a giant fruit bat, something which I'd never come across in the daytime.
Despite having seen many bats at night in Ishigaki's city center, this was by far the closest that I'd ever managed to get to one of these incredible creatures. Fortunately it was willing to pose for a few shots.
On September the 18th Ishigaki was hit by what will hopefully turn out to be the only typhoon to visit the island this year. I decided to brave the weather in order to bring you some pictures and video of the island when the weather is less than hospitable.
After having spent the last year taking photos for this website I decided that it was finally time to break out my video camera. I rode up to Banna park and was fortunate enough to spot a Crested Serpent Eagle perched in a tree above me. The video tells the rest of the story.
I went down to Ohama to check out a huge boulder which was washed inland by the devastating 'Meiwa' tsunami which hit Ishigaki Island on April the 24th, 1771 and killed over 13,000 people on the island.
After months of procrastination I finally gave in to temptation and treated myself to a Sevylor Colorado inflatable kayak. I carried it down to Maezato beach to give it a test run on a warm winter's day.
We spent a few hours jungle trekking with one of our friends, Mike Quinn, who operates a range of adventure tours on Ishigaki island. This was no average trek however as it included the use of steel zip-cables which allowed us to sail through the jungle and over waterfalls.
It's been a year since I arrived on this beautiful island and the novelty still hasn't worn off. I rolled down to the local beach and took some shots of the sun setting over the surrounding islands. I was treated to the lovely sound of traditional music courtesy of a local girl who was playing the sanshin.
Ishigaki's annual two-day festival was held this weekend and the heat returned with a vengeance with the temperature hitting about 29 degrees centigrade on Sunday. Up until now November has always been the one month of the year that I've always dreaded. The clocks in England go back at the end of October, the nights draw in, the weather becomes wetter and the spring feels like it's an eternity away...
Up until now most of my posts have been littered with references to Ishigaki's beautiful climate and its never ending summer. Well, it's time to set the record straight; over the last two weeks I've probably experienced enough wind and rain to last me a lifetime. It kicked in the day before the Yaeyama music festival and it continued on with few breaks until last week when a typhoon past by Ishigaki, delivering another round of wet weather.
Every day when I leave my flat I am greeted by the site of Okinawa's tallest mountain, Mt.Omoto. By world mountain standards its peak is barley above sea level at around 530m, but still, on a hot and humid day it still offers a fair hike.I'd been planning on climbing it for a few weeks now, with my original idea being to get up at around 6am and cycle to the base of the mountain before the heat of the day sets in...
We're approaching the end of September and every morning the NHK weather forecasters have been talking about how temperatures have been dropping across Japan as we move from summer into autumn. Not so on Ishigaki island however where daytime temperatures are still hovering at around 32-33 degrees centigrade. With the exception of a few short sharp showers we've barely had any rain for about a month now and my recollection of what it feels like to be cold is rapidly fading...
After spending the best part of the week riding around trying to get some decent photos of Angama I was almost disappointed when I heard that there was yet another event to be covered. Don't get me wrong, I love photography, but wading through hundreds of photos trying to find the best of the bunch loses its appeal after a while.
If I'd known how entertaining the Shishimai festival at Ohama was going to be I wouldn't have toyed with the option of giving it a miss in favour of going to an Izakaya with some friends and looking back I'm so glad that I went. Shishimai festivals, which are a cultural import from China, are lion dances which are held throughout Okinawa.
Thanks to my wife's help I've finally managed to roll out a full Japanese translation of my website. Hopefully this will mean that I can finally get back to enjoying a normal life on Ishigaki which doesn't involve sitting in front of my laptop for 15 hours a day fighting technical problems. The good news for you guys is that from now on I should have more time to get out and take photos of Ishigaki and the surrounding islands.
We're currently in the 'Obon' season and during this period there is a three day festival called 'Angama' which takes place throughout Okinawa.
Well, I thought that it was about time that I started a blog about my life on Ishigaki, or should I say, continue the one which I started about 6 months ago on Wordpress. At the moment I'm up to my eyeballs with work trying to get the the site's translation to Japanese complete by the end of the month. The translation is going better than expected thanks to Yoko's help, but as usual there are a bunch of technical issues which I need to address too.
Anyway, there's no point in living on a beautiful island like this if you're just going to spend your whole life in front of a laptop pulling your hair out. Consequently, Sundays drive out a beach at Uganzaki, courtesy of our friend Mariko, was a welcome break.