Explore The Yaeyama Islands By Water Buffalo

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NATURE: Explore the Yaeyama Islands by Water Buffalo

On the southernmost tip of Japan, almost 2000km southwest of Tokyo, lie the Yaeyama islands – a tropical archipelago with a unique culture. Once a part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the islands are home to craft, customs and local dialect developed over centuries of relative isolation.

One such tradition putting the Yaeyamas on the map are the island’s unique form of transport. Visit any one of the archipelago’s twelve islands and it’s not uncommon to find harnessed buffalo towing heavy wooden carts along dusty roads. Originally used to transport agricultural produce, today visitors can hop on and take a water buffalo tour for a few hundred yen. Crossing spectacular scenery, from rain-forested roads to white sandy beaches, trips are often accompanied by tales recounted by a local guide and atmospheric Okinawan songs played on the sanshin – a traditional three-stringed instrument.

Images and video: Alex Rebbeck for ANA

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