A Villa where you can relax and rest your wings surrounded by the sea, books, and Ryukyu herbs

【A book hotel with a membership system for a single building rental Hamahiga Bettei】

~Experience the traditional way of life in an old private house on an island that still retains its natural beauty~

Hamahiga Bettei is a book hotel located on Hamahiga Island, which is called "God's Island" in Okinawa, It is a special place where you can rest your wings in peace.

On an island where people live a traditional lifestyle close to nature, you can enjoy the sea and starry sky, and read a book while lying down in an old Okinawan mansion built with Ryukyu feng shui. Here, you will have a moment to play and be healed in the quiet flow of time.

In this interview, we asked the owner, Mr. Nagamoto, about the story behind the birth of Hamahiga Bettei and the charms of Hamahiga Island.

● Table of contents

● The Birth Story of HAMAHIGA BETTEI

-Could you please tell me the reason behind the birth of this hotel?

The first reason was that I was a big fan of remote islands.

I was originally a travel writer for about 20 years, and I just loved remote islands. When I decided to live on a remote island, Hamaiga Island came up as a candidate. Hamaiga Island is not a completely isolated island, and it is easy to get to and from mainland Okinawa by bridge, so there are no inconveniences that I feel uneasy about when living on a remote island. When we looked for a place to live, we came across a house where a 100-year-old grandmother lived, and we decided to buy it. I had a gut feeling that this was the place to live and decided to buy it.

However, although we bought it for ourselves, as we felt the energy that filled Hamahiga Island, we began to think that it would be better to make this a place where people from all walks of life could come and stay. With the Corona disaster, I also sensed that more and more people wanted to live in nature, close to the earth and easy to breathe, so I decided to turn it into a members-only book hotel, "a place where people who usually work hard can rest in peace and a retreat.

On Hamahiga Island, there is a special place called Sinugudo, where defeated warlords came to hide and heal their wounds during the Warring States Period of Ryukyu. There is a large banyan tree that has become a power spot, and the fact that it was historically a place for warlords to rest also fits perfectly with my desire for the "Hamahiga Villa," which is why I opened the book hotel.

-Why is Hamahiga Island filled with energy?

There is a reason why Hamaiga Island is called the island where the gods dwell, and I think it is because it is a little bit special among the islands in Okinawa.

In Ryukyu mythology, which is passed down from generation to generation in Okinawa, Amamikyo, the god of creation who created this world, is said to have created the islands of Ryukyu while living and having children on Hamahiga Island, where Amamikyo's grave, Amamichu, is located. Silmichu, a cave on the island where Amamikyo is said to have lived and had children, has a torii gate and a place of worship and is a place where Okinawan yuta-san (a kind of shrine maiden) regularly come to pay their respects. On the mainland, it is a special place like Ise Jingu Shrine or Izumo Taisha Shrine.

-Is there still faith in the life of Hamahiga Island?

Okinawa originally has prayers in everyday life. For example, there is a custom to worship a fire god called "Hinukan" in the kitchen to pray for the health of the house and family.

The old man who lives near Hamahiga Bettei is a kami-inchu-san, a person who performs Shinto rituals, but he is also a fisherman. In Japanese shrines, the person who performs Shinto rituals is called kamishu-san, but here on Hamahiga Island, it is common for people to perform Shinto rituals while living an ordinary life. A priest from one of Japan's leading shrines once visited the Hamahiga Bettei, and he told me that Japanese shrines originally had prayers in their daily lives, much like Okinawa does today. He said, "It is wonderful that the old Okinawan lifestyle and customs remain on Hamahiga Island.

● HAMAHIGA BETTEI Points of Interest

As a book hotel, may I ask you about books?

There are about 1,500 books in the Hamahiga Bettei. In addition to my original collection of 1,400 books, about 100 books were given to me. One of our members is a writer who donated books he wrote at the Hamahiga Bettei, and the editorial department of a publishing company gave us some of the books in the collection. There is a wide range of book genres, but since I am a picture book author and picture book therapist, there are a particularly large number of picture books, about 400. During your stay, you can read as many books as you want in the hotel.

It's quite challenging to choose which book to read, isn't it?

As one of our services, we select books for our clients. From the hearing, after a reservation is made, I use my intuition to select about 10 books for our guests, both picture books and books. We welcome our guests with those out on the bookshelf at the inn, and many of them are very happy to see us.

It's also the charm of the accommodation that you can spend your time as you like in places like the study, sofa, and Japanese-style room.

This villa was created by renovating an old traditional Okinawan house where a 100-year-old grandmother used to live. The original layout follows the traditional style of Okinawa. There is a veranda in a south-facing area, which allows the warm breeze to flow in easily, creating a calming and relaxing atmosphere as the wind gently passes through.

In a small field in our garden, we grow Ryukyu's unique herbs. We put them in the foot baths we provide at check-in, use the herbs to make bath salts during your stay, and put them in the baths to make medicinal herb baths, but we do not throw away the used herbs, but put them in the compost to make fertilizer and put them in the field again to circulate.

You are conscious of the SDGs by carefully using traditional houses and locally producing herbs for local consumption.

The SDGs are not special in nature; people in the past lived SDG lifestyles, but we have just gradually moved away from them.

Hamahiga Bettei is an inn where you can experience life close to nature as it was in the past. It is a place where the essence of old-fashioned living is stylishly incorporated into today's life to the extent possible, and furthermore, there are a lot of books there.

The village where the Hamahiga Bettei is located is also alive with the old-fashioned way of life, and it is fun just to take a walk. The sounds of sanshin (Okinawan guitar) and radio are playing, grandmothers are heading for the fields, and tempura of mozuku seaweed is sold at the store.

We hope you will immerse yourself in island time during your stay.

● HAMAHIGA BETTEI Accommodation Plan

I heard the accommodation plan is for renting the entire building.

The villa can accommodate up to 5 adults in a single rental. The basic plan is a one-night stay with no meals and discounts are offered for consecutive nights and for single occupancy.

The villa has two Japanese-style rooms, one Western-style room, one study room, and one kitchen-dining room with a layout based on Ryukyu Feng Shui, a fully equipped system kitchen and bath, and a rooftop where guests can enjoy star and moonlight bathing.

Basic amenities are provided, as well as detergent, a washer, and a dryer. Toys are available in the kids' room.

How many nights are the guests usually stay?

Most of them are staying 2 nights. Staying for just one night feels like a waste as the body has only just begun to adapt to its surroundings. Those who come for one night always end up saying, "I shouldn't have come for just one night."

Perhaps influenced by the power of the place on Hamahiga Island, many people's faces relax from the moment they enter the island, but after about two nights and three days, they become looser and looser. It is like those who usually live with stiff defenses were able to take off their armor. Maybe there is something about this place that makes it safe to take off the armor. A space full of books is very relaxing, isn't it? Also, we have a 12 square meter Japanese-style room, so the Japanese-style room is also relaxing. I recommend staying here for consecutive nights to soak in the synergy of the air of the island and the air of the inn, and to relax and calm down.


-What do they all do for meals during their stay?

We offer an option to have a full-course meal prepared by a genius personal chef. The chef from Okinawa uses local ingredients to create the dishes, and it's truly magnificent.

The chef works closely with local farmers and sometimes goes to their fields to get ingredients for his dishes, so while he is cooking, you can hear stories about how Okinawan farmers think about their crops. This chef sometimes goes on a boat himself to catch fish and bring them back very fresh, so he will also tell you about traditional Okinawan fishing and the Okinawan fishermen. Many people make reservations with the personal chef for dinner.

There are also dining options on the island, so of course, you can eat outside.

● Recommended Activities at HAMAHIGA BETTEI

Are there any activities you would recommend during the stay?

Many people participate in the "God's Island Spiritual Tour (advance reservation required)”. There are countless Utaki (sacred sites) and sacred areas around Hamaiga Island, Okinawa's representative power spot, and I guide them to the sacred and power spots that have the power they need the most while paying respect to the island.

There is a forest with a towering banyan tree. Words cannot describe how amazing the banyan tree, which is more than 10 meters wide, is. Some people even cry just by looking at the banyan tree. You can touch and lie down on the trees and interact with the forest and the trees as you tour the island.

Another popular plan is to meditate on the beach. I am a certified meditation facilitator, and it is really nice to meditate in the shade of a tree on the beach in Okinawa.

It is often said that you become one with nature, but there is a different level of depth when meditating outdoors than when meditating indoors. Many of our hotel guests have made it a habit to meditate, and when they open their eyes and see the ocean, they are delighted to find that they have never meditated in a place like this before. The meditation plan includes hot coffee, sampin tea, and a box lunch, so you can enjoy a beach picnic after meditation.

The hotel is just a few minutes from the ocean, so of course we can do marine activities, right?

SUP rental service is available at the villa (free for villa members and charged for guest members). There are also kayaking and SUP tours that can be arranged on the island at sunrise and sunset times for an exceptional experience.

The sea is relatively calm because of the chain of islands around it. Even though they are connected by bridges, they are remote islands, so the beauty of the sea is exceptional!

Are there any other unique experiences on Hamahiga Island?

The stars are extremely beautiful. The Milky Way is always visible when the weather is clear. We have a bench on the roof of the inn, and you can watch it all the time. The moon is also very beautiful. When the moon is full, you can enjoy moonlight bathing, and when the moon is new, you can gaze at the stars. The nature at night is also great.

There are also various events on the island, although they are not tours. I have been to an autumn festival called the Toyonensai with a client, and we sometimes go on a beach cleanup together. When we experience island life with our guests, the islanders are happy and the guests have fun. I think it is a good time.

● Message from HAMAHIGA BETTEI

Do you have a message for the readers of “Tabiyu”?

Hamahiga Bettei is a little different from ordinary hotels because it is a membership hotel.

Basically, it is a members-only space, available only to those who stay at the hotel. However, since it is not possible to make an application without knowing what the place is like, we accept reservations only for the first time for a trial "overnight stay experience. We will explain the membership system to you, and only those who agree will be allowed to join so that they can enjoy the island lifestyle as if they were living in a vacation home.

We will give you the details of the address only after you make a reservation. We are sorry, but we do not allow visitors.

The reason why we have a membership is because, after all, Hamahiga Island is an island of God.

There is a sacred atmosphere flowing throughout the island, and the people living on the island have a normal life. The utmost respect and consideration for this island come in the form of "membership".

With this understanding, our members enjoy Hamahiga Bettei as a "shared villa on a remote island.

Another feature of Hamahiga Bettei is that we communicate with you carefully from reservation to arrival to make your stay on Hamahiga Island and at the villa as pleasant as possible. After making a reservation, we will ask you to register on our LINE and make a proposal tailored to your needs, asking what kind of trip you would like to make, what kind of meals you would like to have, and what kind of tours you would like to sign up for.

First, please experience the "temple-like tranquility" of Hamahiga Bettei.

● Information about HAMAHIGA BETTEI

Name of hotel: Hamahiga Bettei (A Villa of Sea, Books, and Ryukyu Herbs)

Address: Katsuren Beach, Uruma City, Okinawa, Japan

Access : Access from Naha Airport

【By Car】Take Okinawa Expressway and get off at Okinawa North Interchange (about 30 minutes from here).

【By Taxi】Approx. 1 hour and 15 min. /9000 yen.

【Shuttle Bus】Take the highway bus (#111) from Naha Airport to Okinawa North Interchange (about 1 hour). Then take a taxi (about 30 minutes/4000 yen)

【Call taxi】

美星タクシー    098-978-2535
勝連交通合同会社 098-972-3308

■ The person we have spoken with

Mr. Michi Nagamoto, owner of Hamahiga Bettei
Author, editor, publisher, and representative of"Picture Book Studio ACO-CLAW "

Picture book therapist (certified by the Association of Picture Book Therapists), Meditation facilitator (certified by Body Mind Spirits)

Worked for a publishing company in Tokyo. After traveling around the world, worked as an editor for the magazine "Okinawa Style" (Ei Shuppan) and as editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Okinawa Times" (Kanasa Uchinamun) before assuming his current position.

He has authored 5 books, 5 picture books, and over 300 articles on Okinawa, and opened "Hamahiga Bettei" in March 2022.

■ Editorial postscript

As this villa is based on the concept of "a villa for the sea, books, and naps," I was surprised at the number of books. The book selection service by Ms. Nagamoto, the owner who is a certified picture book therapist, is definitely something I would like to try. I am sure I will receive the message that I need right now. In addition to books, you can also get in touch with Okinawan life, listen to the sound of the waves, and take a gander at the ocean. Your senses will be liberated, and you will feel at peace. I first learned about Hamahiga Island through this interview. The "Island of God" is cherished by the Okinawan people, and I feel as if something will change just by staying there. It was a secluded hotel where one could spend a relaxing time and yet be energized for tomorrow.