Ishigaki Island: Dreams of Compassion
Ishigaki Island is located about 400km southwest of Okinawa Prefecture's main island, surrounded by a sea of coral reefs. 50,000 people live on the island. Once, many came to the island in search of a new frontier across the ocean. Life on the island is built by a mix of people of various histories and cultures. Facing one rough wave after another, life on Ishigaki Island is inherited from one generation to the next.

Walking the Sea

Arakawa is the base of the fishing industry on Ishigaki Island. Almost 150 years ago, fishermen from the southern part of Okinawa's main island moved to Ishigaki Island, laying the foundation of its fishing industry. One group of fishermen employ a traditional fishing technique where a group of several people drives the fish into a net. There is a dialect word "Umi-acha," which means "walking the sea." It refers to someone who works with the ocean. When asked what their job is, they would say "I'm walking the sea."

A Gift from Taiwan

Ishigaki Island is a favorite tourist destination for the people of Taiwan. But in the past, many people from Taiwan came to this island as immigrants. Located in an agricultural area of central Ishigaki Island, Takeda is a village pioneered mainly by people of Taiwan. Pineapples and mangoes, local specialties suited for cultivation in the warm weather, were introduced by the Taiwanese.

Celebrating with Lion Dances

In Shiraho, a village facing a sea of coral reefs on the east coast of Ishigaki Island, a 200-year-old lion dance is performed for good health and to ward off evil spirits. Once, the ritual was performed separately in the 2 camps when the community was divided due to confrontations over a new airport construction plan in the ocean. Later villagers tried to reconnect bonds in the community by living their daily lives and doing events together. In the lion dance music, the lyrics sing "come by, gather round."