Masataka Araki / Owner of the gift shop “Pukari-do”
A tour operator becomes the owner of a gift shop that carries products unique to Yakushima
Look for a bright blue sign beside the main road, near the Yakushima airport. The white, wood building nearby is Pukari-do, a gift shop with a selection of attractive and delicious Yakushima products.
The owner, Masataka Araki, moved here from Yokohama with his wife. He had visited Yakushima many times before as a tour operator bringing tourists to the island from Tokyo. When visiting Yakushima, he fell in love with the view of the mountains from the Anbo river which runs through the center of the town of Anbo. His first thought, “I want to show this view to tourists who visit Yakushima!” After moving here, Masataka-san continued to work as a tour operator for a while. Then he opened a small gift shop by the Anbo river.
“I really enjoy running this gift shop. When I meet customers who have come to Yakushima to have a good time, their energy is contagious.”
The gift shop and the Araki’s home are now in a more convenient location, near the airport. The shop is full of locally-made Yakushima souvenirs that the Arakis have selected. Masataka-san’s wife, Mari-san, used to work as a designer and the shop also sells a variety of souvenirs of her own design: masking tape, notebooks, handmade accessories, and bracelets with colorful natural stones and Yakushima cedar balls that are quite popular and pull at the heartstrings of their female customers.
In collaboration with an island-based confectioner, Pukari-do sells “Shimacafe (literally “island cafe”) New York Cheesecake” which makes use of locally-grown fruit. Pukari-do also produces a local, sweet soy sauce called “Kanro.”
Since 2012, the Arakis have been making a free map of the island’s cafes and restaurants. At first, they had intended only to advertise their own shop, but then they decided to produce a map that would “make customers and islanders happy” so they gathered information and added it to their map. The map got better every year, and this year they made an English version. Masataka-san said, “It makes me happy when a customer comes to the shop carrying one of our maps.”
Masataka-san has worked as a tour operator on two different occasions. He told me, “I want to find ways to bring more people to Yakushima and to see that they have a good time while they are here. I want to work on both mechanisms.” Listening to him talk, I sensed that his perspective is somewhere in the middle, between that of a tourist and that of an islander.
Written by Sanpo-tei, Rei Ogata
- 719-39 Koseda, Yakushima Township
- Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture
- Telephone: 0997-43-5623
- URL: http://www.pukarido.com