After I return from Yakushima to Tokushima, I spend a day in the city contemplating on my future destinations in a cheap hostel called Little Asia. To head further south sounds good, to escape the cold, and rather spend some time on the beaches. The streets of Tokushima are already decorated for Christmas. Probably the same or even worse in Okinawa I guess, due to the big American presence. According to the weather forecasts, its hardly warmer in Okinawa than in Amami Oshima, another big island a little north of Okinawa, yet 10 hours less on the ferry. Which is, according to the forecasted wave height of 4 to 5 metres a little less challenging. Internet tells me about lovely beaches and diving, as well as primeval forests and mountains on the island. And so I head for Amami Oshima...

Arriving after a long and wavily night on the upper deck of the ferry with drinking Japanese spirits and beers with a cyclist that I just met, I get off the ferry in Naze on Amami Oshima at 5 AM. Tired and wrecked from drinking and the Muai Thai boxing session. Hang out in a Conbini that is equipped with seats until sunrise. Decide to cycle towards Ohama beach a few kilometres south of Naze, a lovely spot for turtle and bird watching. The only way to get here is over some mountain road where I can feel every bruise of last nights fight. Ohama beach welcomes me with a long white beach, a tropical garden and a camp site on another smaller beach behind the cliffs. Sleep on the beach for an hour in the sun, talk to the staff about the camp site and the weather forecast. I already love the place, however I decide to stay at a recommended youth hostel in Shinaze, a neighboring village for tonight. The manager invites me to go to some Christian Mass in the village, yet I'm not in the mood. I'm in Japan, and I prefer the Buddhist and Shinto part of its culture...

The day after I leave the hostel, and spent two days in an affordable Ryokan in Naze, just to wait for better weather. Cycle a little bit in the North of Naze, yet I'm not really up to cycling no more. Instead, I enjoy walking the streets of the lively seaport, and wait for my legs to stop hurting. With sunshine on the fourth day on the island I decide to head further south towards Setouchi, a small seaport in the South of Amami. One more mountain pass on the way brings me to a facinating viewpoint to see the scattered coastline of Amami and the southern islands. Incredible view!

I inquire about the Yadori campsite at the Setouchi goverment office and learn it is closed because its off-season. However, I am allowed to stay there for free for two nights. Yadori beach is just some 12 kilometers away from Setouchi town, however after the three ascents on the small coast road I am exhausted. The lovely and lonely beach as well as the tranquill campsite garden recompenses the effort by far. Swimming in the sea, Tai Chi on the beach for sunset, and a lovely diner in a bar beside the campside for the perfect end of a lovely day. Certainly, I enjoy the warm sun. Two days later I'm on my way to return to Naze with no idea what to do next. I decide to go on the same road back that I came here because it is less mountains and much shorter. I fell I'm getting lazy cycling. On the way, I almost bump into my cycling friends from Kyushu on the cycling track of the longest tunnel on the island. What a surprise! My friends were staying on the neighboring island, and decided to join me after the received my mail from Setouchi. Great, what a coincidence that we met. We decide to camp together on Ohama beach back in Naze for a few days before they return home. For me as well as for my friends, this is finally resting after more than 3600 kilometers of cycling. We finally found the warm beaches and stayed, and I have great company. Emi prepares rice or pancake and Indian chai for breakfast, okonomiyaki for lunch and curry for dinner on our campground kitchen on the gas cooker. Atsushi plays the Marimba in the evening. A white one-eyed cat comes by every now and then to beg for some food.

An older man comes by almost every morning. We chat with him, and he'd tell us about his passion, diving, snorkeling, fish hunting. If we were interested? Oh yes, of course, we say. So he provides us with wet suits and snorkeling gear and we go snorkeling the coral banks, hunting fish with rubberband harpunes, eating them at night.

After 6 days on Ohama beach, my friends leave and I spend my time with Tai Chi and reading sutras, and learning Japanese a bit with the old man. He's really patient with me and my dictionary. Every once in a while we go snorkeling and sometimes he invites me for dinner and drinks back in his place.

Then the rain came, and the wind. Temperature dropped. I went to a public bath with Sauna after about two weeks with cold showers and shaved my beard. Then I left, heading by ferry to Osaka...