On this varied course, you pass through quiet, historic hamlets with rows of Garcinia trees in the eastern part of Kume Island, and roll through fields of sugarcane. All the more to see on the course set for wandering the alleys behind traditional houses with the islanders, which was an event held as part of Sugar Ride Kumejima on November 29 and 30, 2014.
Starting at Ou Island, the course crosses Ou Bridge, first visiting Janado hamlet. Around Nanzamiya, where prayers are made for bumper crop in the hamlet, stand large tropical almonds like guardian deities.
After passing through expansive fields of sugarcane, you come to Une hamlet. At Kikumurake House, a private home, you can see the two big sago palms of Une, said to be 250 or 350 years old.
Cars pass by occasionally, so riding is easy on the wide road that goes around the perimeter of the island, but it pays to enter the grid-like streets of Maja hamlet. Garcinia trees offer protection from wind and fire, forming a hedge as if watching over the traditional red-tiled houses. The most celebrated of the Garcinia tree villages is “Chura Fukugi”. A line of trees extends for 40m in the middle of the road. Here, part of the woods surrounding the residences were preserved as the median strip during a road-expansion project.
You can drop into the Nakaharake House with its old-fashioned house and pigsty-toilet, Tenkogu where people honor the gods of safe boat navigation, and other sites while wending your way through the rows of Garcinia trees. A city hall was in the site of Nakazato Magiri Kuramoto in the Ryukyu Kingdom period. Now, only the coral limestone walls remain. By car, the culture of the island is invisible as it flashes past. However, the great part about pottering is that you will be able to encounter the culture of the island in detail.
Maja hamlet is also the home of Kume Island Tsumugi textile, where the clatter of looms can be heard. At Kumejima Tsumugi-no-Sato Yuimaru Hall, you can watch the processes of weaving and dyeing Kumejima Tsumugi fabric, a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. If you potter around the hamlets, you may encounter women diligently dyeing yarn for Kumejima Tsumugi.
This is generally a flat course, but on the way back, you can whiz along the straight road down through the sugarcane fields and back to Ou Island.
Renting a bicycle on Kume Island
RESORT HOTEL Kume ISLAND (Magari) / Tel. 098-985-8001
EEF BEACH HOTEL (Janado) / Tel. 098-985-7111
CYPRESS RESORT KUMEJIMA (Ohara) / Tel. 098-985-3700
Home Center Yoshinaga / DIY Shop (Higa) / Tel. 098-985-8869
Tour the Chinen peninsula on the east side of southern Okinawa Main Island. Run through the land associated with Sho Hashi, who unified the Ryukyu Kingdom.
This is the well-known course of the popular Sho Hashi Half Marathon. The 1.2km slope with a height difference of 150m known as Shinzato-bira is considered a difficult part of the run, but for this pottering course, the hotel on the hill is your base, and you start by running down the slope.
”Sashiki Coconut Tree Path Street” on Route 331 is all flat, and you can enjoy the tropical mood as you jog easily along. There are also little-known sightseeing spots nearby.
As you approach Chinen, there are power spots such as Sefa-utaki, sacred and historical sites here and there where you can experience a solemn atmosphere.
The greatest attraction of this course is the tranquil scenery of the fields and the beautiful views of the sea. Superb views that will have you inadvertently gasp with awe, appear one after the other — the Nirai and Kanai Bridges in the shape of a hairpin-like curve against a backdrop of the ocean, Cape Chinen Park which makes an ideal resting point, and the view over Nakagusuku Bay from the Okinawa-no-Michi Cycle Path.
There are lots of cafés and restaurants near the course where you can enjoy the special scenery of southern Okinawa as you take a break for some leisurely tea.