Human and Nature Friendly
The delicious relationship between Yaeyama Islands and Salt of Ishigaki
Rich forests that make Salt of Ishigaki
Mystery of Forest
It is said that the richness of the seawater in Nagura Bay infuses the salt with umami, the tastiness.
However, it is also said that it is the rich forests that make the sea so rich.
Satoumi*1 is created by Satoyama*2.
In order for the Satoumi to be fertile, the satoyama must be fertile.
What is the natural environment that produces salt with a rich flavor?
The answer is the the green forests around the Nagura Bay.
＊1 Satoumi: undeveloped ocean near populated area
＊2 Satoyama: undeveloped woodland(mountain) near populated area
The path of Norahukara (Nagura River), makes Nagura Bay a paradise for living things
The highest mountain in Okinawa is the gurdian of the Ocean
The Nagura River is a 4.5 km long river that leads from the southern foot of Mt. Omoto (526 m above sea level) to the bay. Clouds send rain to the mountains, the mountains become sponges that contain water, and water gushes from the surface of the earth, gathering together to form the Norahukara (Nagura River), which flows into the ocean. The river is a conveyor belt that carries the blessings of the mountains to the ocean.
In 2005, the area was designated as an international nature reserve (Ramsar Convention).
In winter, wild birds fly in from the north to rest and relax in the ampal, while the wetlands are covered with mangrove forests and the ocean is covered with coral reefs, making it a beautiful place where land and ocean are united in a natural environment unparalleled anywhere else.
In the island dialect, Nagura Bay means "a place where fry gather". This ocean is so rich that the locals come here to pick up food for their evening meal.
"The secret of the umami, tastiness, is the seawater, which is filled with the life of living creatures."
Wetlands where a wide variety of flora and fauna have been
On the west side of Ishigaki Island, the Nagura Ampal (tidal flat surrounded by sandbars) extends from Nagura Bay to near the mouth of the river, where the river leads to the mountains.
Nagura Ampal, known as a "treasure house of living things," is a wetland area centered on a wilderness where mangrove forests spread out. It is home to many plants and animals unique to the subtropical climate, and was registered as a Ramsar site in 2005.
When we stepped into the area, the soil beneath my feet suddenly lifted up from the bottom.
We looked closely and saw countless small shells and a lot of blue-footed boobies. They all started walking at once, making it look as if the ground was shaking.
As we approach the mangrove forest, all the rice crabs are quickly slipping into their holes, and only the easy-going mudskipper is looking at us while scowling.
In addition to this, we can hear the chorus of a saxifraga frog and the chirping of waterfowl.
The lively activity of the creatures that abound in the ampal is quite endearing.
Mangroves are forests that can survive in salt water. If you look closely, you can see yellow leaves mixed in with the green leaves every once in a while. These yellow leaves are actually absorbing the salt. They will eventually fall off, but these leaves are sacrificed to keep their fellow green leaves alive.
The wisdom of Mother Nature.
We can feel the strong determination to hold on to life.
The wisdom of mangroves living in seawater
Wonders of the Yaeyama Islands
One Genus, One Species, One Yaeyama Palm
Stunning Height and Presence
In some places in the forests of the Yaeyama Islands Yaeyama palm forests are found in some places in the Yaeyama Islands. Of course, if you look up at our workshop, you will see a tropical rainforest. It is a place where you can fully enjoy the tropical air, but these palms are actually very mysterious. The reason for this is that the Okinawa Islands are the only place in the world where palms naturally grow in clusters. It is very rare to find a palm that has no other related species, and the reason for this is still unknown.
There are 4 to 500 palms, each about 20 meters tall.
The standing palms are so delicate and beautiful that they have been designated as a national natural monument.
As we entered the clump of palm trees, our cheeks were caressed by the slightly cool air.
The white trunks of the yaeyama palms soar high into the sky, and the tiny blue sky peeks apologetically out from far beyond the 20-meter-high palms.
And the wind blowing through the forest, with its mixture of earthy aroma and rustling leaves, strongly reminded my senses that this is a special jungle in the South Island.
The birdsongs are heard among the trees, and the palms start chattering meaningfully, and we cautiously take one step at a time, fearing that a huge leaf might fall from the top and injure us.
The trunk, which is perhaps 50 cm in diameter, is thickly wrapped with reddish aerial roots that look like a skirt. The trunk is made up of tens of thousands of upper fiber bundles and was once used as a building material because of its great strength.
The number of horizontal lines on the surface of the trunk gives us an idea of the annual rings.
Not Only the Ocean, but even Forests Create the Taste of Salt
In order for delicious salt to be produced, the ocean must first be healthy. And for the ocean to be healthy, the greenery of the mountains, the starting point of its bounty, must be vibrant. At the very least, one only has to look at the magnificent shingle roots of the Giran-inubiwa*3 in the jungle to see how powerfully the forest breathes in the forest. Ishigaki Island has both, a rich ocean and a rich forest. The key to abundance, security, and safety lies in the unbreakable relationship between the ocean's forest, or rather, the forest's ocean, and both the ocean and the forest.
If salt made from seawater can even imagine a forest scene...! You may be able to learn another depth of salt.
*3 Giran-inubiwa: Ficus variegata Blume var. grciae Corner.
The fern-like plant at the base of subtropical trees is the Yaeyama-Ootaniwatari*4.
On the island, the new shoots of that are picked and eaten as tempura or stir-fried. It is exceptionally good when tasted with salt.
*4 Yaeyama-Ootaniwatari: Asplenium setoi N. Murak. et Seriz.
Nagura Bay (Ampal), where Ishigaki's salt is produced, still retains a unique natural ecological environment among the Yaeyama Islands. In addition, it is now a valuable place where the national government, the prefecture, and the islanders of Ishigaki Island (Simanchu) are working for the conservation of the natural environment.