[ Apr.2019 ] During our sightseeing taxi tour on Miyako-jima, the island of Okinawa Prefecture in Japan, we went to Irabu Ohashi bridge next, one of the highlights of this island.
This bridge connects the two islands of Miyako-jima and Irabu-shima and its length is 3540 metres, which means it is the longest bridge without tolls in Japan and they are proud of it.
It took more than 40 years from when they started planning it and it took as long as 9 years to construct it, finally opening the bridge on the 31st January, 2015.
The highest point is 27 metres high and it draws an elegant curve.
At the foot of the bridge, there is a monument and our driver, Mr. Taira, stopped the car and we took some photos.
We could see a beautiful beach from there, but only one person was sitting there.
He literally had the beach all to himself.
Another thing we noticed was that from this point onwards, the number of foreign tourists, mainly Chinese tourists, increased.
On the way to Irabu-shima Island, we could not stop on the bridge, but we did on the way back and from there we could see a huge cruise ship.
According to Mr. Taira, the cruise ship stops at Hirara Port on Miyako-jima about three times a week and as many as 3,600 people get off.
They are mainly from Taiwan and China.
Because Mr. Taira was a quiet man, he did not say anything more than that, but another driver we met the next day said “People say that Chinese people act rudely, but they use taxis. I try to tell myself that there are people with good manners and bad manners in every country and try not to care”.
On Irabu-shima island, we went to Toguchi no Hama beach.
This is another beautiful white sand beach and I went into the water a little.
Almost nobody was here.
It seems that most of the beaches on Miyako-jima and the surrounding islands do not have any facilities such as deck chairs and parasols.
So, the next time we come, we must not forget our own.
After that, we crossed to the next island, Shimoji-shima, without noticing it.
We went to see Toriike Pond through a tropical forest.
There were two ponds of deep blue-green water.
These two ponds and the sea are apparently connected underground.
Here there were many Chinese tourists.
By the way, there is an airport on Shimoji-shima.
According to the driver we met the next day, about 30 years ago, the then Okinawa prefectural governor decided to build this airport on the condition that only civilian air crafts could use it.
At first, it was used for the training flights for jumbo jets, but the flight training is now done by simulations, so the airport was left unused for a while.
They keep maintaining the airport “in case of emergencies“, said the driver.
Apparently, there is no difference in level between the road and the pavement in Irabu-shima and that is because military cars could run in case of emergencies.
Thanks to the maintenance at this airport, the passenger plane has just started flying directly from Narita, Tokyo, and bringing more tourists.
Also, direct flight from Hong Kong will start soon.
So, Miyako-jima is booming.
The driver told us rather worriedly “We have a shortage of labour, so the workers come from the mainland for building works. The property price is soaring. It is certainly a bubble economy”.