Higashi-hennazaki is a narrow, 2km long (1.24mi) long cape which extends out of the eastern side of Miyako island (Okinawa). The cape has the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the East China Sea on the other. Along the coast line of the cape are large rocks, scattered in the mesmerizing blue water. At the tip of the cape, a slim and elegant, 24.5m high white lighthouse protrudes from the ground. The cape is designated a national place of scenic beauty.
The cape of Higashi-hennazaki extends from Miyako islands eastern side, like a small tail. The width varies between 120m and 250m, and narrows in toward the tip of the cape, where Hennazaki lighthouse stands and the Pacific Ocean meets the East China Sea. The base of the cape is a 20m (65ft) high plateau of Ryukyu limestone which has been eroded into the current shape by the ocean.
Where the lush greenery doesn’t cover the plateau, the dark color of the weathered lime stone below comes through. The green vegetation against the dark weathered stones and turquoise and sapphire blue water creates a rough and unique landscape of strong colors which makes a lasting impression.
The large rocks and boulders scattered in the sea on both sides of the cape are supposedly brought down there by a tsunami which happened in 1771. If this is really the case is disputed, but it is one theory.
No trees grow on the cape due to the strong winds which swipe over the land from all directions. This leaves room for other, adapted plants to thrive, like white lilies, sea lavender and the tennoume shrub which lives especially well under these conditions. The tennoume grows low and has small, delicate white flowers.
All 5 photos above © touristinjapan.com
The legend – a sad love story
Like many of Japans impressive cliff formations, Higashi-Hennazaki also has a legend of a sad love-story attached to it. Legend has it, that a beautiful you woman, Mamuya, and a local chief of Miyakojima, Anji, fell in i love many years ago. When Mamuya learned that Anji already had a family, she felt betrayed and hurt by love. According to the legend, Mamuya threw herself off the cliffs of Higashi-Hennazaki Cape and died. Her grave is still on the cape, and can be seen about halfway between the parking lot and the lighthouse.
At the tip of the peninsula stands Hennazaki Lighthouse. The white tower, which stands 20 meters above the sea, is 24.5m tall and has its lamp at 43m above sea level, making it visible as much as 33km (20mi) away. The lighthouse was constructed in 1967 after a series of serious incidents in the sea surrounding the cape.
The tower can be reached from the parking lot by foot and since 1996 it has been accessible to the public for a small fee of a few hundred yen. From atop the lighthouse there is a magnificent view of the cape and the surrounding sea. It is possible to see both sides of the cape at the same time – the northern side is calm and has beautiful coral formations. The southern side is more rough, with waves hitting hard against the cliffs.
The top of the lighthouse is great for watching sunrises. In fact it is one of the preferred spots for locals and visitors to start the new year, by watching the first sunrise.
All 4 photos above © touristinjapan.com
Getting Around on Miyakojima
While Miyakojima isn’t very big, it is big enough that you need motorized transportation. It is highly recommended to rent a car for your stay. It will ease the transport between all the sights and beaches, and allow you to reach the most remote and pristine beaches.
Accommodation on Miyakojima
Miyakojima and the neighboring islands have many beautiful hotels, resorts and guesthouses. If you want a relaxed stay, away from the crowds, then I recommend Hotel Hibiscus which is a lovely, private guest house on Kurima island.
By car: Higashi-Hennazaki Cape is the eastern-most part of Miyako island. Take route 390 eastward and you will end up at Higashi-hennazaki. It is recommended to go by car.