before leaving Ishigaki Island

before leaving Ishigaki Island

[ Apr.2017 ] On the day we were leaving Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, Japan, the flight was in the afternoon, so we had a last walk in the town in the morning.

It was a nice hot day, good for swimming in the sea, but we did not have time to go to the beach.

It was really a shame.

First, we went to a souvenir shop near ‘730 Crossing’.

The reason why this crossing is called 730 is to commemorate the day when the traffic rule was changed from right side drive to the left side on the 30th July 1978, that was a few years after reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972.

And there was a monument about that there.

The name of the shop was ‘Souvenir 730’, too.

We went there to get some CDs of folk songs of Ishigaki Island.

This shop was selling a lot of Okinawan traditional three stringed instruments called Sanshin and I had seen that on the corner they had some CDs.

I asked the shop owner who looked rather eccentric to choose two for me.

We listened to them later at home, and we found that they were a bit too difficult for us.

We also went to a shop selling Minsah Weaving which we wanted to see.

The name of the shop was ‘Azami-ya’.

I would have rather gone to ‘Minsah Kougei-kan’ to try weaving myself but this place is far from the centre of the town and we did not have time.

Minsah Weaving is the traditional weaving in Yaeyama archipelago which Ishigaki Island belongs.

Long time ago when the commuting marriage was common here,  when the engagement was established, the woman wove a sash belt for the man as the proof.

Minsah weaving always has patterns of 4 and 5 squares and that means ‘wishing a long happy marriage’ as a sort of word play in Japanese  (itsu 《5》 no yo 《4》 mademo, meaning forever).

And the small repetitive patterns on the side mean that ‘visit me frequently’, the shop assistant there told us.

In the past, the sash belt was always in navy colour died with indigo, but the mother of the owner of this shop started weaving with many colours to make it souvenirs.

The shop assistant said that in the past they had about 200 weavers, but now they have about 100.

“Because Minsah is designated as the cultural property, we must keep going, so we are teaching young people how to weave” she said.

We bought 4 centerpieces and we are using them as table mats.

The flight on the way back was the direct one.

When we arrived on the island, the sea was grey, but from the plane, I could see from the window that the colour of the sea was really beautiful blue green.