Miyakojima’s place of power “Pumpkin Hole” is being destroyed by increase of tourists, cave stalactites are also breaking

Miyakojima’s place of power “Pumpkin Hole” is being destroyed by increase of tourists, cave stalactites are also breaking

Boraga beach, home to the site known as “Pumpkin Hole” – archive photo from 2013

September 13, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Bora Environmental Protection Committee (BEPC, Kaname Sunagawa, president), made of up of the residents in Bora Gusukube in Miyakojima, and the Miyakojima Fishery Collaboration Association (Hirotsugu Kuriyama, president) demanded Miyakojima City investigate the closing the facilities at Boraga beach and restricting access to the sacred site “Kubakundai (also known as Pumpkin Hole)” on September 3. The same day, Sunagawa handed written appeals from each group to mayor Kazuyuki Zakimi.

According to Sunagawa, “Kubakundai” has been a sacred site for Bora village since long ago, protecting its residents. The stalactite-filled cave is only accessible at low tide, and due to a large stalactite that looks like a pumpkin, it is often called “pumpkin hole.”

According to Miyakojima, a television program featuring the place introduced it as a “little-known gem” and a “place of [mystical] power,” leading to a sudden increase in tourist visitors. According to Sunagawa, in recent years dozens of tourists from outside the island descend upon the site day after day on guided tours. Sunagawa fumed, “This is an important piece of local heritage, but it is being destroyed by tourists. Some of the stalactites are also being broken.”

Additionally, the waters around “Kubakundai” are known to be a good place for fishing, however the increase in tourist foot traffic is trampling the coral, endangering an important habitat for fish in the area.

Sunagawa’s demand to close beach facilities and restrict access to the sacred site is supported by a survey of the Bora resident’s association, in which a majority of respondents agreed with the proposed changes, and he asked mayor Zakimi, “To also consider the local heritage and to protect the natural resources.”

Mayor Zakimi responded, “It was good ocean filled with eels and spiny lobsters. We will work quickly to enact rules that follow the will of the townspeople.” He explained that the city was looking to hire a designated manager for the Boraga beach facilities, and said, “A major precondition for the hire will be protecting nature and adhering to the requests of the village.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

Bora Environmental Protection Committee president Kaname Sunagawa (3rd from the right) handing Miyakojima mayor Kazuyuki Zakimi (2nd from the right) the group’s written demands – September 3 at Miyakojima City Hall

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