Introducing the three villages of Yambaru￼
What are the three villages of Yambaru?
There are three villages in the Yambaru region of northern Okinawa Island: Kunigami-son, Ogimi-son and Higashi-son. The combined area of the three villages is about 340 km2, or about 0.1% of Japan’s total land area of 377,930 km2. The three villages have an overall population of more than 10,000 people. In just this small area, the forests of Yambaru nurture many living things, including numerous endemic species.
The proportion of land covered by forests in the three Yambaru villages is more than 75%, which is a very high rate compared that for the prefecture as a whole (about 46%). The Yambaru region also receives more rain than the southern parts of Okinawa Island such as Naha, so it plays an important role as a water source for the urban areas of central and southern Okinawa Prefecture.
Kunigami-son is located at the northernmost tip of the main island of Okinawa. The total area of the village is 194.8 km2, the majority of which is made up of fields and forested mountains, with a chain of mountains including Mount Yonaha (503 m), Mount Iyu (446 m), and Mount Nishime (420 m).
Kunigami-son is home to wildlife including many rare and endemic species such as the Okinawa rail and the Okinawa woodpecker, and its designated areas include the Okinawa Coast National Park, five bird and animal sanctuaries, and the Mount Yonaha Prefecture Protection Area.
Located on the west side of the Yambaru region, Ogimi-son is made up of 17 communities (hamlets and wards). The total area of the village is 63.4 km2, and at its center are limestone mountains such as Mount Nekumachiji (317 m) and Mount Shioyafuji (360 m). In addition, Shioya Bay and its surrounding area have been designated as the Taiho Wildlife Sanctuary.
The village of Ogimi-son is known for the longevity of its residents. Its main industry is agriculture, with Shiikwasa as the main specialty. In the community of , , an ancient traditional handicraft, is still being produced.
Located on the east side of the Yambaru region, Higashi-son is made up of six communities (hamlets and wards). The total area of the village is 81.7 km2, with about 72% of its area being covered by forest, mainly in the northern part. mangrove forest is the largest mangrove forest on the main island of Okinawa. The village is also known for its pineapple production.