After visiting the horses and fishes around Nishinoshima, I headed to the big island of Okinoshima. Among my adventures there was a sea kayaking trip. It wasn’t quite as sunny as when I went scuba diving and there were more waves, but the four of us–a couple fellow JETs, our guide, and myself–got to explore several caves and observe the creatures living in them. That was in addition to all the explanations of unique geological formations the island is known for, but rather than reexplaining them all here myself the official homepage of the Oki Islands Geopark should provide a more useful and enlighting explanation beyond “cool looking rocks! Lava did this!”

Yoroi-iwa, “Armor Rock”

So! On to the kayak tour!

This is at the northern tip of Okinoshima–people don’t live on this little island, but birds nest here, and in seems there used to be customs of swimming to this point for some kind of ritual or festival. Or just to show off your swimming skills, maybe.

Speaking of birds, this guy was part of a nest inside a cave, but he’s still a little clumsy at flying! We watched him fall in the water after a not so graceful flight attempt across the cave, then he swam in front of us for a while before hopping around the rock walls again. His hopping wasn’t very graceful, either. Ah, and the mom and dad birds weren’t so pleased with our visit when they came back later.

This sea slug (or sea hare) wasn’t very thrilled to see us, either. See that purple ink? It’s a last line of defense. Had it have been in the water, you’ve have lost sight of it in a cloud.

Now if we were lobsters, this stuff would gotten all over our scent receptors and made it difficult for us to smell the tasty sea slug. Cool, huh?

We also saw a number of other fish, jellies, barnicles, crabs, and even caught some good glimpses of sazae–turban shells, a local specialty both on the shores of the Oki Islands and the shores of the mainland.

Click for source. Not one of my favorites, but I tolerate them in some dishes like sazae curry or sazae rice.

See look, no sight of sazae! Just harmless little bite-sized pieces.

I much prefer the other local specialty that we saw plenty of, though I’ve only tried kame-no-te (“turtle hands”) once in soup form.

Click for source. Not actually related to turtles, these things grow in groups like barnicles.

Alas, I did not have any more kame-no-te on this trip, but in addition to squid (a major part of local industry) and an assortment of very fresh sashimi, I also tried oysters for the first time in recollection. Although they do serve them raw, right after we got the suggestion for the daily special from our sea kayaking guide, I opted for fried oysters (kaki, not to be confused with persimmons) in curry. Apparently curry style is the best way to serve something one is unfamiliar with, but I’ll stick with normal curry in everyday life, thanks.

That’s a lot of oyster. I prefer shijimi clams, though…

Next time, let’s just stick to some light sight-seeing.

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