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Zamami, Aka & Love in Between

Zamami, Aka & Love in Between

After visiting the urban side of Okinawa with Naha and Nago, here we are now in the ferry, on the way to Kerama Islands, more precisely Zamami and Aka Islands.

Kerama Islands

Reachable in roughly an hour by boat from Naha, they’re known for their beautiful beaches and their relaxing atmospheres. These islands only lives from tourism, so once again don’t expect bucolic places 😉 They’re resting destinations.

Kerama Islands

Kerama Islands.

One hour and 3,000Y later, we land on Zamami Island. Considering the price, you’d better avoid getting there and back in the same day !

Zamami Island

We decide to stay 2 days and a night in the Kerama archipelago, sleeping at Yado Natura Inn, on Zamami Island. Nice welcoming, and very clean room. Of course, you’ll have to book before : there are plenty of inns in Okinawa but they’re booked real quick, even in November !

Kerama Shisa

Kerama Shisa.

Our hosts take us at the ferry, and on our way I can see an another inn decorated with Ghibli characters. There are far more shisa decorating the houses’ fronts too.

Shisa from Zamami Village

Shisa from Zamami Village.

That’s what Zamami village looks like from above. In front, it’s Aka Island and in between there is Gahijima. We’re going to visit both of them.

Takatsukiyama - Zamami Village

Takatsukiyama: Zamami Village.

Zamami village doesn’t have a lot to see, but you can cross plenty of residents. The ubiquity of the mailman is amazing, wherever we go, he’s here ! It seems like the village has its own school.

Zamami Lonely Girl

Zamami Lonely Girl.

Supermarket is quite simple and reminds of the ones you can find in South-Eastern Asia. We find all-made Chanpuru, even SPAM ! Another leftover from World War II. As it was difficult to provide meat to all american soldiers, it was replaced by those SPAM cans… Then it was introduced to locals, product was really liked and is even now a part of Okinawa’s food.

Zamami Supermarket

Zamami Supermarket.

And here we are ! We found back our Ghibli friends, with Nemo as guest.

Laputa Robot Okinawa

Laputa Robot in Okinawa.

Le propriétaire est allé très loin en reproduisant l’arrêt de bus avec Totoro. Il n’y a plus qu’à attendre le Nekobasu (chat-bus) avec lui !

Totoro Zamami

Totoro Zamami.

The owner worked very hard, reproducing the bust stop with Totoro. We only have to wait for the Nekobasu (cat-bus) with him !

Cat in Zamami Village

Cat in Zamami Village.

We then rent bikes and go on exploring Zamami Island. Here is Zama Beach, very popular on summer but not the best one.

Ama Beach

Ama Beach.

On the way, we find this statue of a dog that reminds us of course Hachiko, the Shibuya’s celebrity. This one’s named Marylin, and people seems to take good care of him. But why ?

Zamami's Dog Marilyn

Zamami’s Dog Marilyn.

We find those pineapple-looking fruits many times. They’re actually Adans. They’re eatable, but not eaten because they’re far from being delicious. Maybe with some SPAM…

Adan Fruits

Adan Fruits.

We then arrive to Furuzamami Beach, the famest one of the island. Well-known for its turquoise colors, its transparent water and beauty of its seabed.

Furuzamami Beach Entrance

Furuzamami Beach Entrance.

I take the opportunity to buy a local-colored tea bottle at the vending machine, but it has the same taste that those we can find in Tokyo…

Okinawan Pet Bottle

Okinawan Pet Bottle.

Here’s what Furuzamami Beach looks like. It’s a really beautiful beach, but what does this hideous building do in the background ? Isn’t this a shame ? It seems abandoned, its surroundings looks like a dump, and there are caged birds with cats spinning around them. Really far away from paradise.

Furuzamami Beach

Furuzamami Beach.

Japanese people doing a national favorite pastime : fishing. I have a lot of friends and collegues doing it, and I ask them everytime :”What do you do with all the fishes you got every week-end ?” and they always answer me : “Nothing, we put them back on the water afterwards”. Oh. But what’s the point then ?

Furuzamami Beach Fishing

Furuzamami Beach Fishing.

I don’t know if those fishes are going back to water, but they don’t seem eatable. Aspiring fishers has a teacher so I prefer not commenting on the fact that they won’t survive with so little water :p

Okinawa Fishing Fishes

Okinawa Fishing Fishes.

We get then to the center of the island where is an observatory.

Takatsukiyama Path

Takatsukiyama Path.

The hike is real short, but is it worthy ?

Butterfly Takatsukiyama

Butterfly Takatsukiyama.

Sure yes ! The view from above is wonderful ! We’re surrounded by many whitesand beaches, and nobody’s there ! We finally found our paradise.

Takatsukiyama Observatory

Takatsukiyama Observatory.

After a quite busy day, we go back to sleep at our guesthouse. The following morning, I decide we definately have to go to this small island between Zamami and Aka : Gaha.


It’s rather expensive to get there, because you have to pay a captain 1500Y per person even if it’s only a 5 minutes journey in boat. But it’d be a shame to ignore the visit of this lonely island…

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The island is a little one and is full of corals. We’re really alone here, it’s very relaxing. As there’s nothing special to do here… sunbath time !

Gahijima Beach

Gahijima Beach.

Here’s our boat coming back. Zamami island is in the background.

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Close-up on our captain who really made his living today, but he’s really nice and fully earned it !

Zamami Captain

Zamami Captain.

After Zamami Island, we get to Aka Island. Not as popular, but with a beautiful beach I definately want to go to.

Aka Island

We get to Aka Island and find ourselves in front of an another dog : Shiro-san. Two main islands, two dogs, there must be a link between both, isn’t it ?

Aka Island's Dog: Shiro

Aka Island’s Dog: Shiro.

Let’s visit the most interesting beach of Aka Island : Nishibama. It was also the starting point of Shiro… What ? Starting point ? Yes… and also the starting point of our love story for this article. SO here’s the story of those two dogs, which will pleasantly end the visit , or so I hope !

Nishibama Beach

Nishibama Beach.

Daisuke gets back to his hometown in Zamami’s neighborhood with the idea of opening a guesthouse. It’s a very common business in Okinawa, and even non-locals decide to move to Okinawa to get started. Daisuke takes with him his dog Shiro, born in Tokyo.

Nishibama Beach North

Nishibama Beach North.

After a round of heartfelt reunion, Shiro meets Marylin on Zamami Island. Both dogs fall in love instantly, but Daisuke decide to build his guesthouse on Aka Island. So they get separated by 3.6 kilometers of ocean. Too bad !

Nishibama Beach South

Nishibama Beach South.

But that doesn’t stop Shiro : he swims on a regular basis towards his love for the day. And he gets back home at night. This ritual becomes a national phenomenon, and tourists flood Zamami Island to welcome Shiro.

Back to Naha

Situation gets complicated. Daisuke’s brother, a yakuza, comes to help but gets things worse. He decide to sell Shiro to a television channel, takes him to Naha where the dog gets attacked and hurted by an another one, which cancel the deal. The brother will soon after put the guesthouse on fire, not on purpose, by smoking at bed…

Meanwhile, Marylin dies of a disease. Shiro, still hurt on a leg, cross the sea a last time to realize this great misfortune by himslef. He lived on Aka Island, for its inhabitants and visitors took great care of him, until he joined Marylin 12 long years later, in 2000. Statues were erected this same year thanks to donations. The two dogs left 6 children.

Kerama Islands Sunset

Kerama Islands Sunset.

The movie “Maririn Ni Aitai” (I want to bang Marylin) retrace the story of both dogs and is the base of a polemic, for the dogs doesn’t seem to be taken good care of… plus the real Shiro plays his own character !

Zamami Ferry Sunset

Zamami Ferry Sunset.

The story, quite sad when you think of it, made Kerama Islands very popular. To be honest, it’s deserved ! I’d gladly get back there to spend a little more time on the beaches and to make snorkeling. Plus it’s a trip you shouldn’t miss if you’re near the main Okinawa Island, which is far from having such paradise-like places.

Naha Harbour Sunset

Naha Harbour Sunset.

Now a question : The owners of both dogs has both has guesthouses on Zamami and Aka islands. Will you find their name and even more, their places ? :p

  • OMG!!!! Don’t tempt me!! I’m such a huge Okinawa fan and I’ve been to many islands already:
    Hontou (Naha, Nago), Miyako, Kume, Yaeyama Islands (Ishigaki, Iriomote, Kohama, Taketomi, Kuro, Hateruma, Yonaguni).
    And your photos just make me wanna visit the Kerama Islands soooooo badly. At least I still have something new to explore left in Okinawa, so that’s good. ^___^

    I’m loving your photos. You were lucky with the weather. You said you went in November?

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. 🙂

    • Yeah, it was in November! Mmm, I was not 100% lucky… I also went to Kumejima and Iriomote but I don’t even know how I can write articles about those two because the weather was bad and my photos are quite depressing 🙁 I guess I have to go back there again! ^^ Taketomi is my favorite island there, what’s yours!?

      • I spent two whole weeks in Okinawa once and it was raining all the time. I don’t have any good photos of that visit, either, so I exactly know what you’re talking about. 🙁

        Hm, very hard to choose. I think I go with Yonaguni. 🙂

      • I finally went to the Kerama Islands. Unfortunately during my trip typhoon 18 hit and soon after typhoon 19. All ferries were cancelled and although I spent 2 weeks in Okinawa, I only could go outside / to the Kerama Islands on 5 of those days.
        I really liked all of them, but especially Aka. 🙂

        • You are like me, not lucky with the weathers! But I realized that when I travel alone (without my wife) the weather is usually better! Bad luck? I guess we should go to a temple to get rid of this nasty spell! :p

          • Maybe your wife is an ame onna just like me. 😉
            My power is so strong, though, that whoever travels with me also has to suffer under the bad weather conditions. ^^;;;
            I’d rather have a different power. XD

  • Silvia Groniewicz

    When I first saw your article in French I knew I had to go. Finally booked my flight today. Spending 3 nights on Zamami (with visits to Aka, etc) and 2 nights in Tokashiki. Hope the weather will hold up! Nothing to do in Okinawa if the weather’s bad!

    • I hope the weather will be perfect! If you are going soon, it should be 🙂

      • Silvia Groniewicz

        It was absolutely stunning. Even prettier under the water than above! Can defintely recommend the snorkeling there. Thanks for making me want to go there after reading your article. It was SO worth it!

        • I am super glad you enjoyed your trip! Where else did you visit?

          • Silvia Groniewicz

            This time I basically went straight from the airport on the ferry to Zamami. Went to the two beaches, did some stargazing (took my first pic of the milky way), rented a car to explore the rest of the island, went to Aka (only Nishibama) and the uninhabited island Agenashiku and then took the ferry to Tokashiki where I went to all the beaches and rented a car for a day. I’d definitely recommend Zamami/Aka over Tokashiki though.

            And then straight from the ferry to the airport 🙂 Thankfully no typhoons!

          • Yeah, because they came right after you left! ;___;


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.

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