Takata Mikako, Writer / Editor Author of “Hello! Yakushima”
“This island is full of places it would be a shame to just pass through.” Those are the words of Takata Mikako, an editor and writer who also operates the Issou Coffee Roastery at the Miyanoura ferry terminal together with her husband.
The Takatas are from the town of Isso, located on the island’s north shore. Although Takata-san claims to have been an “indoor person” when she was young, she did walk on country roads with her friends, climb trees and fantasize.
“Yakushima’s a place that stirs up one’s fantasies.”
Takata-san recently published her book, “Hello! Yakushima” (in Japanese) with Anonima Studio. This compact, easy to handle book is filled with information selected by Takata-san. It will surely engage the interest of travelers, people here temporarily for work, people who have resettled here, and even those who have lived here all along. And for first timers on the island, she has arranged information by location and included basic travel information.
“Working in my coffee shop, customers would tell me ‘I had no sense of the island’s scale and it took me longer to get there than I had expected.’ Or I’d overhear a customer saying, ‘There are a lot more shops on Yakushima than I had expected. If I’d known I’d have brought my mother along.’ Hearing this talk made me aware of the need for a book that showed the island’s scale and the number and variety of shops and the like, a book that offered a rough overview of the island.”
Takata-san doesn’t like to drive and she organized her book to start on the west coast of Yakushima and to follow the island’s circular shape clockwise. She doesn’t want for those traveling by bus or rent-a-car to waste their time going back and forth, but to enjoy the island in an efficient manner. The photographs in the book were taken by Yu, a photographer who lives on Yakushima. In that sense, the book is a collaborative effort by two Yakushima residents, filled with vignettes and beautiful scenery you’d miss if you didn’t know what to look for, or where to look.
“Now that the book is in print, I realize the many other things I wanted to say, the many things I left out.”
After she graduated from a university in Tokyo, Takata-san stayed on in the city and worked for an editing firm and a publisher, doing reporting, writing and editing work. What she learned then, she tells me, has informed her work on this book. “Hello! Yakushima was a collaborative effort by a cameraman, a designer, an illustrator, an editor and, more than anything, the people of Yakushima. I’d always been in the editor’s role whereas this time I was the book’s author and I was given the opportunity to experience what that is like.” Knowing the difficulty of being an editor, she said that, from the start, she made the commitment to “listen to other people’s ideas.”
The red lighthouse on the book’s cover is located in and is a symbol of Isso, the town that Takata-san is from. “Hello! Yakushima” was lovingly made by Takata-san so that newcomers to the island will not lose their way. And for those who living elsewhere when they read this book, they’ll want to come to the island right away.
Written by Sanpo-tei, Rei Ogata
- Issou Coffee Roastery
- Miyanoura Ferry Terminal, 2nd Floor
- 1208-1 Miyanoura, Yakushima Township
- Kumage County, Kagoshima Prefecture