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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Miyakojima Okinawa 3D2N trip with baby [Pt2] – Places to Visit

Thank you all for waiting patiently for part 2 of this post, took a while due to other commitments but I’m slowly trying to catch up with all my travel backlogs which is obviously long overdue lol. So, in part 2 of our family Okinawa trip last autumn, I’ll be sharing about places worth visiting while you are here. If you look at Miyakojima on the map, it’s not that big so you would be able to easily cover the entire main island and its surrounding smaller islands within a week but we were only there for 3 days so time wasn’t exactly in our favour and of course traveling with kids we often need to plan our schedule around them.

If you have missed out on my previous post, you can read PART 1 over HERE 

Remember we came here WITHOUT a proper itinerary lol, so most of these places were picked out of the road map we got from the airport and drove according to what’s on the way to and from the hotel we were staying at. We choose to drive because it’s more flexible that way and also more affordable than getting a chartered taxi (5000yen for 1 hour yo, ouchie!). 

What you'll see most when driving around Miyakojima, endless sugar cane plantations

Our little ride for the whole trip! Really love driving around Japan (non city area only lol) because it's the only thing that you can control throughout your entire trip. No need to rush for trains/ buses. 

In case you didn’t know if you are not one to stop at spots to explore and just in for the driving scenery, you can complete circling Miyakojima within 3 hours lol, it’s only 150 square km. That’s like me driving on the highway from KL to Malacca XD

Irabu Bridge (伊良部大橋)

Not sure what’s with me and bridges lately, like we somehow have a mysterious force drawing each other together because I just realised that almost every new prefecture I conquer, there’s bound to be an impressive bridge right in front of me and so far all of these bridges I’ve visited were unintentional. Like I didn’t know they existed until I’m actually at the prefecture itself and looking at places to visit (last minute planner ftw) in the local map available at the hotel lol. I kinda lost count of how many pictures I’ve had with bridges all over Japan, but let me name a few to jog your memory as well.

One of it was at Yamaguchi prefecture- Tsunoshima bridge, we literally pulled over the side of the road just to take a picture of the view, then there’s the Seto bridge in Okayama, Akashi Kaikyo in Kobe, Hyogo and now Irabu bridge in Miyakojima, Okinawa lol. Talk about freaky coincidence yo. 

There’s actually 3 bridges that connects Miyakojima to its surrounding smaller islands, one is Irabu Ohashi (the longest- length of 3540 meters & the newest of all 3) while the other 2 is called Ikema Ohashi (2nd oldest bridge, opened in 1995) & Kurima Ohashi (the first & only bridge available back in 1992). 

We’ve only managed to drive over Irabu due to time constraints, we picked the longest one on the island naturally and so happened one of the places I wanted to pay a visit that day, lies on the other end of Irabu Ohashi (psst! It’s rumoured to have mermaids!) on Shimoji Island, the next door neighbour of Irabu island. Gotta love how they are all connected by roads so we don’t have to get on a boat (the danna gets seasick easily lol) just to hop from one island to another XD. 

There are a couple of photo spots before and along Irabu you wouldn’t want to miss for keepsake photos, yes there are specific parking lots at the side of the road readily available. At the start of the bridge there is a huge name sign which you can pose with and get a decent almost full length shot of the whole bridge in your background. There’s barely anyone there when we visited, the most was like 2 other cars stopped by, snapped pics and went along their way in a jiffy. And I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before and need to confess, I seriously LOVE LOVE (yes, it’s intentionally repeated lol) driving across long bridges because there’s nothing more relaxing than absorbing in the majestic sea view and cooling breeze, makes you feel like you are a bird soaring high above the sea. Don’t you guys agree?

Yamatobu Oiwa (ヤマトブー大岩)

At the end of Irabu bridge is the entrance of Irabujima (Irabu Island), this particular large limestone rock formation surrounded by a mesmerizing crystal clear turquoise coloured pool (it’s actually part of the sea, the natural formation caused it to look like an isolated pool lol) that greeted us at the entrance is called Yamatobu Oiwa, it’s said to be the main gateway for early island settlers when it was only accessible by boat. It’s considered a historical site and there’s even a monument stone marking this sacred entrance. Getting the Moana vibes all of a sudden lol. 

Now you can drive pass Yamatobu Oiwa easily as there is a main road is built around the limestone, and if you didn’t really pay attention to your surroundings you would easily drive pass the place as it’s a short distance after getting off Irabu bridge; that’s what happened to us actually so we have to make a typical Malaysian style “U-Turn” lol, don’t worry there wasn’t any cars in sight so it was done in a safely manner (please don’t do this in the city ya, you’ll probably get caught on camera haha).

We’ve just pulled over at the side of the road to look upon this majestic limestone, it’s considered to be a famous power spot by the locals. Bet you are wondering what on earth is a “power spot”, it’s basically a place said to collect the earth’s natural energy like a magnetic force and not sure if there is a scientific explanation for it as it’s more of a spiritual thing/ belief (related to Shintoism) going on here, and people would visit to immerse themselves in this energy (using nature to fix themselves). It’s said the older the locations are, the more powerful it is.

From this side of the island you’ll get a different view of Irabu Bridge, and the vast blue sea seems to go and on without any end! For a better panoramic view, Makiyama observatory spot is not too far from Yamatobu Oiwa (like 5 away), it’s shaped like a giant white bird with wings spread out waiting to take flight. A very unique observatory design indeed and kinda low-key regretted for not stopping by because it was lunchtime when we arrived and everyone was kinda hangry lol. So if you do visit Irabu, make sure to make a quick stop up to Makiyama observatory!

Toriike Pond (通り池)

Known as the the two ponds connected underground. This pond is located on an island next to Irabu called Shimojijima Island. Some call this another power spot (due to its age) as well but I don’t exactly get the usual peaceful vibe from this place like I do from other power spots I’ve visited before, more like it sends chills down my spine lol. You know like those movie scenes where a group gets abandoned on an island, discovers a mysterious looking cave/ pond/ grotto and you know the rest. Nothing good ever comes out of it HAHA.

If you are into mermaid legends and stuff like I am then this is a must visit spot on your travel itinerary because who doesn’t want to see a mermaid real life wei? And I’m not talking about monkeys sewn into a fish’s body kind of mermaids. 

We have to talk about the entrance leading up to these ponds, it’s like a mangrove forest but a dried up version, such dense vegetation practically almost blocking out the sun above and the only access is a narrow pathway through it. Eerie but cool because you hardly see plants like these in Japan especially near the sea, totally reminds me of home (Malaysia).

Apparently Toriike is also known to be an amazing spot for diving activities as the sea is connected to this pond through underwater tunnels, if given another chance I would love to explore Toriike from beneath instead, the danna already gave me his blessing to do it alone because he can’t swim and would probably have a panic attack underwater lol. From the top the view is equally beautiful, looking down into a deep cave instead of seeing the usual rocky floor at the bottom, this filled with clear dark blue water and its surface is so still that it looks like a giant mirror reflecting back the skies on its surface. If this doesn’t spark your curiosity, I don’t know what will because you can’t help but to wonder if there are any living creatures in that pond (there is actually). It’s just so unnaturally still until the wind blows!

I don’t have a drone nor a wide angle lens with me (seriously contemplating of getting one for a while now) so I couldn’t get a full frame shot of the place. So I apologize for the disconnected looking photos. Walking along the manmade pathways (it was blown away by typhoon before!) looking up you can see the sea from here as well, there’s a gazebo which you can get a nice shot of it. Thinking back about it, I just realised that the ponds were on top of a “cliff” and yet it’s connected to the sea below…hmm.. makes me even more curious to sign up for the diving course. 

We used a baby carrier when we were here just to be safe because we weren't sure at first how even the planks were for baby strollers.  But after seeing it for ourselves, it's actually decent but still i would recommend to baby wear as it's easier to move around in general. 

So back to the story behind Toriike’s mermaid legend is that one day a fisherman caught a mermaid (or dugong often mistaken as mermaids as well), divided its body to be consumed. The mermaid cried to sea king for help and a tsunami (The Great Tsunami 1771) came crashing down sweeping everything away (including the fishermen’s hut) in its path thus creating these 2 mystical looking ponds.

There are a few variations to this mermaid tale, this is just one of it that I’ve heard.

Another story is the “stepchild legend” which involves a fisherman whom remarried and the 2nd wife was jealous of the 1st wife’s child after she had hers hence plotted to get rid of the stepchild. Her plan was to leave the stepchild sleeping by the slippery rocks of the pond at night so she could push him into it and mask it as an accident. Without realising her own child switched places with his older stepbrother, so she pushed the sleeping child into the pond and returned home thinking she finally got rid of her stepson. Arriving home, she was greeted by her stepson asking the whereabouts of his younger sibling, that’s when she realised what she had done. Consumed with distraught she threw herself into the pond as well, and it turned blue after.

That’s how part of the pond with slippery rocks earned its name “ ママ子台- Mamakodai” 

I don’t mean any disrespect to the legend but pronouncing that word sounds like “mama & ko (child) dai (die). Quite literal lol.
I’ve found an interesting website about Japan Folklore tales which also featured Toriike Pond’s legend but it’s only in Japanese unfortunately: http://www.rg-youkai.com/

Yohana Maehama Beach

Seriously can't argue that Okinawa has one of the BEST sunset views in Japan.

Our last stop before heading back was stopping at Maehama beach, this place was recommended by the car rental staff when we first arrived. There are many other beaches all around the island but we could only pick one to visit so we went for this because out of all the beaches available in Miyakojima, this one has 6km stretch of white sand against the crystal clear sea water and ranked one of the top sandy beaches in Japan; also it was on the way home to the hotel as well so we didn’t need to take an unnecessary detour. 

THAT WHITE SAND!! It’s literally like stepping on baby powder (okay maybe I’m exaggerating a wee bit, but it is super fine compared to average beach sand)! By the time we arrived it was close to sunset so we were blessed with cotton coloured skies complimenting the blue sea and white sand. My kind of colour palette to work with when painting. 

Kinda miss her being this size, such a small round potato

#Lilpenguin: What's that on the ground?? Don't put me down!!

As usual #lilpenguin isn’t exactly a fan of sand so she pretty much cried when being put down so we had to mostly carry her haha, it’s a natural reaction babies have towards sand and grass, it gets better after 1 though! 

We didn’t exactly walk the entire 6km stretch (if it was just us without kids then yea we probably would lol) but enough to admire and absorb in the view for memory sake. There’s also a visible silhouette of Kurima Ohashi at the background in case you are wondering which bridge it is in my photos. 

Spotted a plane flying over!

Too bad it’s not exactly a swimming spot as there is a sign board at the entrance of the beach warning us about poisonous sea creatures lurking underneath the waves. You can walk along and play by the shore but better to be cautious as there sometimes washed up jellyfishes are sighted as well. Not many people around so it was super peaceful, I really did enjoy our time on Miyakojima because It was relatively relaxing and barely any crowds. 

There’s a public restroom near the parking lot for you to wash up once you are done but like everywhere else on this island there isn’t much electricity source after dark lol. Had to use our phones as torchlight just to wash up.

Let me know which on this list you’ll like to visit someday (once we can travel internationally again), as for me it’s gotta be Maehama beach! So missing my annual Vitamin SEA dosage, right now I’m just getting roasted by Kyoto’s hot summer sun, no cooling & salty sea breeze in the city here ya’ll lol. Probably I should get those essential oil that smells like sea breeze and diffuse it around my house to make it like the beach since it’s already burning hot like one (38 degrees and climbing yo!) haha. Can’t go to the sea so why not bring it home eh?

Thank you as always for reading to the end! If you like my works, feel free to buy me a cup of coffee on KO-FI. Your generous contribution is what keeps this independent blog running. 
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If you would like the high-res and non watermarked version for commercial & printing usage, you can purchase it by emailing me at arisa144@gmail.com

Yours Truly,

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