After our race through Tokyo, my sister and I settled in for a week of life on a small island in the Pacific.
I had eagerly anticipated introducing her to what have become my everyday scenes: the sushi lunch cafe that’s hopping during business hours, the formidable sea walls flanking the coast, the memorial library where I delight in abusing the grand piano with my fumbling fingers.
To celebrate in style, we splurged on an evening at Matsuba, the elegant restaurant that makes an art of the local cuisine. We dined on passionfruit cocktails (with an entire fruit sliced into the soda), seafood pasta (in cream sauce mixed with fish roe), goat sashimi (that’s right, slices of raw meat – an island delicacy), and seaweed tempura (with that lovely hibiscus arrangement). The final course featured grilling our own steak at the table (‘sukiyaki’, which translates roughly to ‘cooked as you like it’). For dessert, we spread soft tofu on crackers and drizzled honey over it.
On Saturday, another JET teacher offered his driving services for the classic island tour: looping through Tokunoshima’s iconic attractions from beaches and a palm tree tunnel to granite rock formations and volcanic erosion. I’ve trekked this circuit many times and consider it requisite for first-time visitors.
From the top left, moving clockwise: the Boma heart (grandly advertised and adorably presented), Aze Prince Beach (so named for the emperor’s son who alighted there), the Sontetsu tunnel (favorite haunt of gargantuan spiders), Mushiroze (a carpet of boulders), Megane (“Spectacle”) Rock, and a small shrine near Inutabu: a memorial to the Yamato battleship, sunk in World War II on its way to join the battle for Okinawa. If you squint at the very bottom left, you might spot a sea turtle – camouflaged exactly like the rocks.
Then we were packing again – for my regular trip to Yoron, my sister’s final stop, and a suitcase of mementos to ship home. On Sunday, we treated ourselves to a final taste of Tokunoshima: mango and dragonfruit gelato.