Ishigaki - a remote Island destination in the Okanawa region of Japan, quite far from the mainland, yet accessible from major hubs like Tokyo and Osaka. Ishigaki is a remote exotic paradise, a feast for the eyes and the adventurous soul as each empty beach and coastal vista is better than the next.
We arrived on the lush island to celebrate the wedding of two incredible guys, soon to take place in a traditional Japanese style house called Le Lotus Bleu. Kei, a Broadway dancer with a beautiful soul, who originally hails from Osaka, Japan and Joe, an avid reader and traveling gentleman with tennis skills and a huge heart - I'm hard pressed to think of two more perfect souls to find each other in the fast paced world of NYC.
With a few extra days to spare and a rental car at our disposal, we set out to discover all this little island had to offer, from sugar cane fields and Ishigaki cows, to glorious untouched beaches and turquoise crystal clear coves. First on the discovery agenda, Kabira Bay at sundown. Arriving after tourist hours for this location, we pulled in to discover closed ice cream vendors, and boarded up local shops as we walked down toward the bay. In one gasp of delight, we find ourselves standing in a crystal clear cove of water, basking in the sunset glow. Not a single human in sight, just the subtle bob of black pearl boats, anchored by ropes after a days work of diving (black pearls are a part of the local industry). We continued to explore every bit of this tropical oasis, from lighthouses, to snorkeling with locals, we had enough sun to last the summer.
Awake at sunrise, I decide to start capturing the day (also allowing my equipment time to acclimate from AC temps, to the hot and humid climate). As the sun filtered through Le Lotus Bleu, through the open sliding glass doors, over the tatami mats, and into the courtyard, the quiet soon broke with the readying of the days festivities. An Okinawan classical guitarist rehearsed, setting a beautiful tone for the day to come, as the chefs arrived to prep the traditional meal soon to be enjoyed by all. A calm yet energized buzz filled the traditional open air home.
With the arrival of immediate family and close friends, the intimate ceremony soon took place in the central room, where individual seat pillows awaited each guest. A conjoining of two cultures, the ceremony was unique in its presentation, officiated by their close friend Aaron Komo.
Followed soon after by an intriguing and beautifully designed traditional Ishigaki lunch, featuring specialty foods from the island (including local veggies, bitter gourd, pickled seaweed, salmon ceviche, garlic shrimp and so much more).
And of course, an evening adventure was in store as the wedding party departed to Sunset Beach where we embarked on what looked like ancient sail boats right out of the movie Moana. With a sunset swim off an abandoned beach to top it off.
A truly adventurous wedding week for all!