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Beside their coastlines, there are other insistent geographical features that identify islands. In Okinawa, there is the great escarpment of Tindahanata on Yonaguni-jima Island, while Ishigaki Island has the strangely occult form of Mount Maapee, shaped like a sorcerer’s hat.

Iejima Island is defined by a weirdly splendid peak, best seen from the coastal roads of mainland Okinawa’s Motobu Peninsula. This is Gusuku-yama, or Mount Gusuku, a 172-meter peak at the epicenter of the island. In the Okinawan language, “gusuku” denotes “fortress.” In local dialect, the mountain is rendered as Ijimatatcchu, the name retaining the island’s martial associations.

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