This is a unique English speaking tour devoted to the fascinating culture of the Yaeyama Islands. We will have a walk through one of the oldest villages in Iriomote island, Sonai village and its historical places including a traditional Okinawan house, a shrine (utaki), old well, local beach and ruins of stairs leading to the previous location of the village (historical monument). During the walk I will introduce you to the history, culture, and religion of the Sonai and Iriomote island. I will share some unique and interesting facts on: > how a traditional house used to look like and why people don't build such a way anymore, > how locals pray, > who is a priestess, > how a typical sacred place&power spot is built, > the most important traditional religious celebrations and festivals, > who is a lady in the black veil, > what a visitor can and cannot see, > what is allowed and what needs to stay a secret, > some historical facts, > how the village was looking in old times, > local language, > why it was so hard to live here, > why men are human of the sea and women are human of the gods, > what are special local food and plants you can eat, > how to safely visit the forest, > and many other interesting facts. You are free to ask anything about Iriomote, within cultural issues.(disclaimer:it’s not time to organize your stay&other activities, thank you for understanding)
I am a professional artist doing research in Yaeyama culture and religion for more than 3 years. I take photographs and interviews with local people. I had been living in Sonai and Hoshidate villages, two of the three oldest villages in Iriomote island. I would love to share with you unique knowledge about local customs, religion, celebrations, festivals, and history that normally is hard to get. I have participated myself in many religious celebrations, public and private ones, and interviewed local and elderly people who shared with me first-hand knowledge about Sonai village and Iriomote island. During our walk through the Sonai village, I will introduce you to some traditional and historical places and talk about local customs and culture and very interesting history of this traditional old village.
After the tour, we will rest in the shadow by the beach to enjoy a local specialty tea from a plant called getto. We will…
I'll have photographs and drawings to better explain the customs and historical facts, like a plan of a sacred place, book…
We start by visiting a traditional wooden house (inside and outside). Next, we go to a local shrine, where people pray (please mind, it is not allowed to enter). We can see it well from outside and I will explain what is the typical set up of a sacred place. We walk through a beach to see the historical stone staircase leading to a reminiscence of the previous village location. We finish the trip with a refreshing sip of local herbal tea.
Pick up service from any location between Shirahama to Uehara/Funaura. (Up to 3 persons. Booking with a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Less booking time is possible but not guaranteed). The tour takes around 1.5 hour.
Cultural walk in Iriomote island