Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island
Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island is part of the Tentative list of Japan in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the state party.
Map of Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Iriomote is usually a day trip from Ishigaki by ferry. Whereas it is possible to stay longer it is not easy to figure out accomodation. Best and easiest way to see the forest is the boat tiur to the waterfalls. Along the way is a Japanese guide and you can try to follow with English notes but most people got lost really quickly. It is still beautiful on the way. Once you arrive the tour continues as a hike for about 2h which is rather muddy and steep at points. That is why you got boots at the start of the tour. You will be rewarded with great views at the lookout points where you can have a rest. Some people only walked to the first stop and back. The time is a little tight to see both anyway. The guides also did not accompany you as they go back and forth with other guests.
The most sought after sight on the island are the endemic Iriomote cats, a subspecies of leopards only found here. They say the chance to see one is really low. They are protected and the numbers have plummeted before protection but they are still really shy animals.
I visited Okinawa island in March last year. According the locals, March-April would be the best time to visit and explore the island in order to avoid winter cold, summer hot&humidity, monzoon of May, and typhoons of fall.
The Yanbaru forest is located in the norden part of the island, and Nago is the best place to stay&go further to north. This part of the island is quite remote, and due to the infrequent public transport - which I used to visit Hiji falls protected area, renting a car would be better and more efficient alternative.
It was a bit rainy day, however for visiting of subtropical rain forest it was an appropriate choice...
I like very much such areas, and I can compare my experience to Laurisilva of Madeira, or in a certain extent also to beech forests of Slovakia (both are WHS). So, I enjoyed my visit a lot, but I have to admit that no everyone would enjoy seemingly boring densely forested areas with a minimum of viewpoints or spectacular flora and fauna.
In the summary, I strongly support the inscription to protect the forested area inhabited by numerous endemic species that might be endangered mainly by military preasures in the area.
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