A mere 10-minute boat ride from Ishigaki-jima, the tiny islet of Taketomi-jima is a ‘living museum’ of Ryūkȳū culture. Centred on a flower-bedecked village of traditional houses complete with red kawara (tiled) roofs, coral walls and shiisa (lion-dog rooftop guardian) statues, Taketomi is a breath of fresh air if you’re sick of concrete.
In order to preserve the island’s historic ambience, residents (one-third of whom are over 70 years old) have joined together to ban signs of modernism such as asphalt. As a result, the island is criss crossed by a series of crushed-coral roads that are ideally explored by the humble push bike. Taketomi is also refreshingly free of other eye-sores such as the ubiquitous convenience store, though there are plenty of adorable ‘Mom & Pop’ shops scattered around the island.
Taketomi-jima is besieged by Japanese day-trippers in the busy summer months, though the island is blissfully quiet at night. If you have the chance, it’s worth spending a night here as Taketomi truly weaves its spell after the sun dips below the horizon.