After the madness of Tokyo, we were looking for a “get away from it all” resort in Japan’s Okinawa islands, and we most definitely found it at the Hoshinoya Taketomi. The property is as remote as it gets, set on a small, tropical Japanese island – a world away from the capital by plane, then a little ferry hop and a short drive down some sandy lanes.
But beach-shacks these were not, the posh outpost of the Hoshinoya brand of upscale Japanese resorts gave us a choice of one of just 50 modern, Ryukyu-style, open-plan, wooden pavilions, that pay homage to the traditional architecture here on the island. In each private space, sliding doors opened up our adorable Japanese home from home – complete with tatami floor living and sleeping spaces; and minimalist ideals when it comes to furnishing – to the resort’s perfectly manicured gardens. We spent hours on the daybed outside, just enjoying the solace and the cool, sea breeze. Instead of an onsen hot-spring bath (you can’t expect there to be one here in tropical Japan), our luxurious villa came complete with an inviting, oversized soaking tub.
The low-rise property mimics the labyrinthine layout of the main village on the island, but here, instead of little noodle joints and pottery workshops, the sandy paths led to its stunning restaurant (you must try the Franco-Okinawan cuisine), spa and swimming pool – although, truth be told, we spent most of the day swimming at a beautiful beach nearby.
The staff were always on-hand and happy to help, but language can be an issue (you have to be patient), as the team caters to mostly Japanese guests. However, all the hotel’s smiling staff will try their very best; and you will eventually get what you need – we put it down to ‘island time’. But as we weren’t here for Waldorf salad or some obscure cocktail; nor were we in any sort of a hurry, we rather enjoyed the sometimes hilariously ‘lost-in-translation’ rapport we had with the team on the resort.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The island is best explored by bike, so borrow one from the Hoshinoya Taketomi and head out to explore Taketomi’s beaches and local lifestyle. The only cars here are owned by the handful of accommodation, so for the most part, the only other transport you’ll encounter is the bullock-cart bus. So, it’s totally safe to ride around, but we learnt that it can take some determination to pedal on the sand. Head into “town” to discover real island life – seek out the old lady with the refreshing shaved-ice stall – you’ll see it all in an hour, mind you. But it is absolutely enchanting, nevertheless. We also recommend spending long days on the island’s beautiful beaches, just pack plenty of sun-screen as there’s very little to no shade.
Just remember that dinnertime here is promptly dinnertime. The Okinawans don’t care much for tardiness. If you stay out on the beach to watch the sunset, don’t be too surprised if someone from the hotel comes out to find you and insist that you come back in to eat.