Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Oct 25, 2010

Amami Geography

Posted by Amami Superman

Google Earth Screenshot of Amami Island

I thought I would make another post and tell a little more about the deluge we had in Amami last week.

As stated, the above picture is a screenshot in Google Earth of Amami Island. The white lines on the map represent the boundaries between the cities, towns and villages. Although they call these areas towns and villages, they're not towns and villages in the sense that they are centralized places where people live. You could be in the middle of the mountains with nothing around you and still be in Tatsugo Town.

Amami Island has 7 different areas made up of cities, towns and villages. Starting from the northeastern part of the island is Kasari-cho (the cho means town). Next, moving to the southwest, is Tatsugo-cho. After that is Amami-shi (the shi means city). Just west of Amami-shi is Yamato-son (the son means village). South of that is Sumiyo-son. West of Sumiyo-son is Uken-son and Setouchi-cho is southwest of these. I don't know how confusing that explanation is but it seemed a little confusing rereading it. Basically I just moved from the northeastern part of the island to the southwestern part.

When Amami was hit by heavy rains Wednesday, every area in Amami experienced some degree of flooding, land slides, power and phone outages. There were also several areas that even lost mobile phone capabilities. Every major road in Amami became blocked in several areas due to land slides, flooding and erosion. I heard over the radio on the second day that they there were a total of 37 land slides on major roadways. Each and every area in Amami became severed from the neighboring areas and the rest of Amami. Hundreds of people in each area became stranded unable to return to their homes in other areas. I was one of them.

No matter where you are in Amami, you always have at least two ways to get home. The roads were blocked in so many places that pretty much no one was able to move from the area they were in. We caught wind that the people stranded in Koniya down in the southwestern part of the island would be able to take a special ferry home late Thursday night. I remember thinking to myself, "If I could only find a way down to Koniya." It was around 4:00pm on Thursday when we got a phone call saying the road between Uken-son and Shinokawa had opened up. Shinokawa is a small block (or a literal village), in Setouchi-cho. Shinokawa is pretty close to Koniya, but they still had a very large land slide just at the mouth of a tunnel in a small block called Yui between Shinokawa and Koniya. Here is a link where the land slide was in Yui on Google Maps. Anyway, on with the story. It wasn't more than 30 minutes when we got another phone call saying that it was possible to make it past the land slide in Yui but they didn't know how long it would be open for as it was only temporary. Well lickity split, I hopped a ride with another teacher who actually lived in Koniya and we hurried our way to Yui to see if we could get past and make it to Koniya.

We reached the tunnel in Yui and when we came out the other side, there was this towering wall of mud and rock in front of us. Luckily, they still had a sliver of a path cleaned on the very edge of the sidewalk to pass on. We made it past relieved knowing we would make it to our homes that night. I found out later that some of the other teachers in Uken that lived in Naze, were unable to pass after that and were stranded for another night. I think we were pretty lucky to pass from what I heard.

I live in Amami-shi and my commute to Uken-son takes me through Sumiyo-son on Highway 58 and then I switch to Highway 85 which leads the rest of the way to Uken-son. Thursday night, I was able to catch a 2 1/2 hour boat ride from Koniya to Amami-shi (Naze), and reached my home early Friday morning.

The roads in Sumiyo-son aren't completely open but are only open during the daytime and are closed at night. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the times they're open is 7:00am to 10:00pm. Yesterday, it took 2 hours to drive to Uken-son to pick up my car which usually only takes me 45-50 minutes. I figured the traffic would be backed up pretty bad in Sumiyo-son today considering how many people need to go to work in the morning at the same time so I left at 6:30am to get to the blocked areas early. To my surprise, the roads weren't backed up at all and it only took me an hour and 30 minutes to get to work today. I was even more surprised when it only took me an hour and 15 minutes to get home in the afternoon. Although the roads are still bad, they are getting easier to traverse.

It's only at the end of this post that I realized I keep spelling Sumiyo wrong. If you look in my previous post, I spell it Sumio. Not that big of a difference but, lol.


alex said...

your blog is so cool.

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Keep the language clean please. I have family that see this. Tell us what part of the world you're in.