Yabiji coral reef community and tsunami stones designated as natural treasures

Yabiji coral reef community and tsunami stones designated as natural treasures

In Miyako-jima, the Yabiji coral reef community is to be designated as a place of scenic beauty. (Photograph provided by the Miyako-jima Education Board).


November 17, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On November 16, the Council for Cultural Affairs recommended that Education Minister Makiko Tanaka formally designate the Yabiji coral reef community of Miyako-jima as a place of scenic beauty, and the tsunami stones of the east coast of Ishigaki-jima as a natural treasure. A total of 97 such locations in Okinawa are designated as either historical sites, places of scenic beauty, or natural monuments.

Extending for 17 kilometers from north to south and 6.5 kilometers from east to west, Yabiji is the largest coral reef community in Japan. It is located between five to 22 kilometers to the north of Ikema-jima in the Miyako-jima district. This will be the first time that a natural coral reef community is designated as a place of scenic beauty. A representative of the council rates it very highly in terms of its academic and aesthetic value, stating, “It is one of the key coral reef communities that make the coast of the Ryukyu Islands what it is, and it is also the largest in Japan.”

On Ishigaki-jima, tsunami stones on the east coast of the island are to be designated as a national nature treasure. (Photograph provided by the Ishigaki-jima Education Board).


The tsunami stones consist of four stones that were scattered as a result of two tidal bores: one in 1771, and another that occurred about 2000 years ago. It is the first time that such tsunami stones, that specifically highlight the threat of tsunami, will be designated as a national nature treasure. A spokesperson for the council stated, “The stones are valuable in that they remind Japan, a country in an area that frequently experiences earthquake, of the threat of tsunami.”

The council recommended that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology newly designate 17 locations, including two from Okinawa, and additionally designate 19 locations as historic sites, places of scenic beauty, or as natural monuments. The council also recommended that the ministry add three new locations to the registered monuments of Japan, newly selecting one and adding another to the important cultural landscape. Those nominated will be notified soon.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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