Old Coral Walls of Amami
Old Wall Of Coral -- Kakeromajima (Amami), Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/80 sec, f/4, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Wall Of Coral

The roads of southern Japan's Amami Islands used to be lined with walls built from dead coral, but now only a few such remnants of the past remain. During our trip to Amami, we visited the most western village on Kakeroma-jima (the island outlined in purple on this map) and found some of the old walls. Some were quite tall, perhaps two meters.

Old Walls of Coral and lots of sticks -- Kakeromajima (Amami), Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 40mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Walls of Coral
and lots of sticks

The five sticks seen leaning against the walls in the image above are an example of what one often saw while driving around Kakeroma-jima: long sticks placed at frequent intervals along the road. It turns out that these are for pedestrians to fend off habu, poisonous snakes that are active during all but the coldest months. It was sufficiently cold while we where there that habu were not a worry, but they are a real concern during most of the year, as their bite is excruciating at best, fatal at worst.

When Fumie's grandmother was a little girl, the grandmother's mother lost the use of a leg to a habu bite. One can imagine it was traumatic enough for the one losing the leg, but during those hard times (in the 20s? 30s?), it caused great hardship for the entire family.

Kakeromajima (Amami), Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/640 sec, f/4, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos

I'm not sure how old the coral walls are, but I'd guess at least as old as the trees in the picture above. The picture below, taken further along the road, also gives some indication of the age.

Old Friends -- Kakeromajima (Amami), Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Friends

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Thanks for these nice coral wall pictures!
It’s a pity they don’t do these walls anymore and replace them with bricks.. Can one learn how they are built? I would love to make one.

I read somewhere they replace them with brick walls so that habu dont hide in them.. Habus are certainly an issue but if one is careful enough it shouldnt be an issue. It s not like they are everywhere anytime. They are mostly nocturnal… or come out in the evening.. or so I was told.

I came across one at 2am in seitouchi, sokaru. He was taking the whole length of the beach trail in the back… He didnt even try to hide so I took a dead branch and had him climb on it.. I was surprised that he wasnt even aggressive.. that was until I put him on a tree and tried to bring him down again with a long metal stick I found outside someone’s yard.. It was a bit forceful so I suppose he didnt like that. He kept trying to bite so I had to be extra careful.

While taking pictures and crouching in front of him I realised my legs were shaking… Even after having handled snakes since the age of 6, it s still really scary to be faced with one knowing the bite can be extremely painful and do irreversible tissue damage..

Is there any stats on the number of bites? And is it possible to buy some serum and learn how to keep it and dose it etc..?

— comment by JM on July 5th, 2010 at 11:08pm JST (7 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

So beautiful. Looks Mediterranean. Before reading your posts I’ve never heard of Amami. Thanks. (Actually I would have been interested in your answer to William about living there.)

— comment by Anne on September 9th, 2012 at 1:41am JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink
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