Locals complain of tourists trespassing to take Instagram photos on “sacred island” Kudakajima

Locals complain of tourists trespassing to take Instagram photos on “sacred island” Kudakajima

“No trespassing” sign put up at the path leading to Udi Beach, photographed in October in Kudakajima, Nanjo City

Yo Kakazu

(Nanjo) Kudakajima Island, part of Nanjo City, is known as a sacred place in Okinawa, and roughly 60 thousand people visit there each year.

Many tourists have been trespassing in off-limits sacred spots (utaki) and waters, and islanders who have worked to protect the ancient history and traditions of the island are vexed.

There are many photographs taken in off-limits areas posted to SNS sites and elsewhere on the internet, as well as posts that could cause the erroneous impression that there are private beaches on the island.

Islanders who work as tour guides on the island say they wish visitors would come and post about their experience with a true understanding of the island’s characteristics and culture.

All of Kudakajima Island is considered a sacred area, and some utaki and coastal areas are off-limits.

A sign reading “This is an utmost sacred place. Not a single person may enter” is posted at the entrance to Fubo Utaki, where ceremonies such as Izaiho are held.

However, tourists continue trespassing, and Kota Nishime, 36, leader of the Kudakajima Youth Organization, says angrily, “I have warned several people who I saw coming out of the utaki.

They don’t understand enough just how much we islanders treasure this spot.”

Fubo Utaki is not the only place where trespassing is an issue.

Megi Beach, near the port, is the only place on the island where swimming is allowed, but many photographs of people swimming in waters other than those at Megi Beach have been posted to Instagram.

Some posts even describe false rules to the effect that access to the beaches is allowed to those who meet certain conditions.

There are also many comments that these are “private beaches,” which troubles Tadashi Nishime, 60, head of Kudaka Ward.

“There’s nothing like that here. But people keep seeing those posts and coming here,” said Nishime. A few years ago, a “no trespassing” sign and fence were put up at Udi Beach, but tourists keep visiting there.

Instagram posts are not the only problem.

Many tours are being planned on Facebook and other internet sites with the aim of profiting off the power of Kudakajima’s sacred spots.

“Usually none of the guides are even from the island,” says Kota Nishime.

“They could be spreading inaccurate information about the island’s history and characteristics. I’m very concerned.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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