Cherry Blossoms Bloom & Kerama Deer in Aka

bouquet-of-sakura

The cherry blossoms, or “sakura,” have reached full bloom here in Zamami Village.  With the first buds unfolding around February 18, the village’s mountain roads are now lined with sakura in their most well-known form.  Visitors are greeted by tropical hibiscus flowers and red Kerama Azaleas in addition to the cheery blossoms.

Some of the first cherry blossoms to bloom in Zamami Village

Some of the first cherry blossoms to bloom in Zamami Village

A hibiscus in Zamami

A hibiscus in Zamami

Kerama Azalea--a species native to the islands

“Kerama Tsutsuji”–a species of azalea native to the islands

One of Japan’s most well-known symbols, the nation’s sakura begin their year of blooming down South in the sub-tropical climate of Okinawa Prefecture.  As the springtime weather makes its way north, flowers gradually follow suit from Kyushu up to Hokkaido.  Okinawa is home to a slightly different species of sakura known as “hikan-zakura.”  Those familiar with the almost snow-white appearance of Japan’s standard sakura would be quick to note the deeper pink hue of Okinawa’s cherry blossoms.

Note the deep pink color of Zamami's "hikan-zakura" as compared to the standard Japanese cherry blossoms below.

Note the deep pink color of Zamami’s “hikan-zakura” as compared to the standard Japanese cherry blossoms below.

The standard species of cherry blossom found throughout the rest of Japan

The standard species of cherry blossom found throughout the rest of Japan (photo by Kropsoq)

Meanwhile on Aka Island, Kerama deer were recently exploring the residential area.  Kerama Deer, or “Kerama-Jika,” are a rare, nationally-protected species of deer whose entire habitat consists of only a few islands within Zamami Village.  While the occasional stag might swim his way to Zamami Island, there are no females on Zamami, and thus herds only exist on the inhabited islands of Aka and Geruma, as well as the uninhabited Kuba and Yakabi.  Kerama Deer are smaller and darker in color than their Japanese Deer counterparts.  Kerama Deer are well-known for their ability as swimmers.  During mating season, males duel for the favor of does, with the looser of the competition being forced off the given island–a rare chance to see a deer swimming in turqoise, coral-filled, sub-tropical waters.

deer-2

Aka Island and Zamami Village as a whole are in no short supply of opportunities to enjoy tranquil nature from scenic views to colorful flowers and unusual wildlife.

man-deer

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