Home to extensive sugarcane fields, you can see the Southern Cross twinkling in the night sky from Japan's southernmost island.
Located in the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, Hateruma Island is Japan’s southernmost inhabited island. It has a tropical rainforest climate, so the temperature is high all year round and the average temperature does not fall below 18 °C, even in winter. It is a tropical island with a rich natural environment, where you can even see the Southern Cross in the night sky, if the conditions are favorable.
In terms of the derivation of the island’s name, the most common explanation is that it began to be called Hatenouruma because it was the furthest (saihate-no) uruma (meaning “Ryukyu” (the old name for Okinawa) or coral reef), and that the kanji characters used today were assigned because their pronunciation matched the sound of the name. There are extensive sugarcane fields throughout the island, and the cultivation of sugarcane and manufacture of sugar are the main industries supporting the island’s economy.
There are approximately 600 citizens living on this island, which has a circumference of 14 km. There are no amusement parks or major tourist facilities, but the traditional-style Okinawan houses remain even now, imbuing the island with a distinctly exotic atmosphere. During Kyubon (the lunar Bon Festival (when people in Japan traditionally commemorate their ancestors); as this is based on the lunar calendar, unlike the standard Bon Festival, the date changes each year), many people attend the island’s Mushaama Festival, which is held to commemorate ancestors and pray for a good harvest. There’s no doubt that you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the sedate pace of life on this tranquil island, where the past and the present are intertwined.
- Hateruma, Taketomi, Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa
- 0980-82-5445 (Ishigaki Office, Taketomi Town Tourist Association)