[Why I Travel to Entô] “I came to empty myself” | Entô guest, Ms. Maiko Komatsu. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep.02


Interview Ama town

Yumiko Shiramizu

[Why I Travel to Entô] “I came to empty myself” | Entô guest, Ms. Maiko Komatsu. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep.02

"A journey to Entô is like travelling to a remote and exotic country that can only be reached by ferry.

Even though it is far away, why do I want to visit it again and again?

What makes Entô so different and worth visiting?

Customers who are planning to visit the Oki Islands, or those who have already visited, may think this way.

In this series [Why I Travel to Entô], we ask Entô guests about their reasons for visiting the island and the abundance and light they found during their stay.

Ms. Maiko Komatsu, who has visited the island for the fifth time describes her trip to Oki as "a trip where I determinately come to empty myself."

Click here for the first part:
[Why I Travelled to Entô] "I like the atmosphere and lingering sound of this island. " | Ms. Maiko Komatsu. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep.01

Text by: Yumiko Shiramizu
Photos by: Nana Sato
Interviewer & Editor: Takuro Konmatsuzaki
Translation by: Nicharee Plubsiri

"Take some time for yourself without any specific plans or schedule."

── As you get older, the way you travel changes.

Ms. Komatsu I have changed. When I was young, I focused on figuring out how to efficiently get to the places I wanted to go and the foods I wanted to eat. One day, I suddenly realized that what I was doing was probably just like work, and I was just following a set schedule.

Of course, it's fun and I get to go on the route that I chose beforehand, but when I try to make sure I follow a schedule and move on time, I feel like I'm just following a guidebook.

After that realization, I stopped looking at guidebooks. Having no plans makes the trip more fulfilling and makes me want to go again. But on the other hand, I do miss out on things like early bird sales and discounts, they almost have no meaning to me as I never get to use them.


── It's true that since you don't make any reservations in advance, it might be difficult to benefit from discounts. Since this is your 5th time here, please tell us about any memorable experiences you have had during your stay so far.

Ms. Komatsu I think it was during my first stay, that it suddenly started to rain. When the rain stopped and I went outside to go to the bathroom, there was a big rainbow.

I remember thinking that I wouldn't be able to do anything today, but then I was a rainbow, so I remember feeling like it was some ing of a reward. Perhaps it's because I live in the heart of Tokyo that's why everything feels so fresh and enjoyable.


I came with a determination to empty myself

── You seem to enjoy these subtle changes in nature and what happens before your eyes. Even though Oki and Tokyo are in the same country, they have completely different environments. Do you experience any changes in your state of mind when the environment differs from your normal life?

Ms. Komatsu I am determined to empty myself. After all, when I'm in the city, it's where I live and work, so my mind is always busy, but when I come here it is completely different.

── So you're here for this kind time of environment?

Ms. Komatsu Yes. You'll be empty in no time. I hardly mentioned to anyone that I was going to Oki so that I could travel with peace of mind and forget everything.

── Is Ms. Komatsu with an empty mind different from the usual Ms. Komatsu?

Ms. Komatsu To other people, I might not seem different from my usual self. However, inside me, the things that are spinning around in my head feel extremely calm and slow down.

It's strange how I feel, but it's like I'm back in my childhood, doing whatever I want without any sense of responsibility, like going outside and catching crickets and grasshoppers (laugh).


── Just like how you mentioned that you were born and raised in Minatomachi, which is a town surrounded by the sea, I guess coming to Entô would make you feel like you have returned home and back to being yourself.

Ms. Komatsu It's kind of strange that I feel happy when I have become completely empty. What I thought was cool was when I came to this island there was a poster that said "There is nothing we don't have / We lack nothing in what we don't have" which means anything is possible.

Rather than thinking about the meaning of the words, I was instantly able to relate to them. Like "so true!" that's exactly what I thought. Every time I visit, I come home fully recharged, so maybe I'm here to confirm or rethink something.

── The word empty generally means running out of battery/energy, so how does coming to "empty" yourself turn into a "recharging" experience?

Ms. Komatsu It's really hard to explain, but coming here fills me with energy. This may be similar to the rainbow story I mentioned earlier, but I think it's precisely because you're empty so the little things that happen in front of you become more meaningful.

── Metaphorically speaking, if there is a cup of energy, do you think there is also a cup for other emotions as well?

Ms. Komatsu I'm sure that's the case. The cup that should be empty is being filled, and the cup that should be full is empty. That's why I think I've come to this island to reverse that.


Afterward / Interviewing process behind the scence

Nana Sato (who is in charge of taking photos) had something that she also wanted to ask Ms. Komatsu.

── I think people who work at hotels generally have perfect grooming and good manners. Although the price for a room at Entô is not cheap, it is not what you would call a luxury hotel either. The staff members are all different, and as you can see, my hair is green and I think I am not an ordinary person, so I'm really curious about what guests might think.

Ms. Komatsu I think young people should do whatever they want, so I don't mind at all. Those who knew about the era of Marine Port Hotel (the name used before changing to Entô) may have some thoughts. But I think people can understand the basics just by talking to them.

── How do you feel about Entô staff's distance and demeanor with guests?

Ms. Komatsu I'm not too comfortable with serious, lengthy services. For instance, I like hot springs, but the hospitality at a typical hot springs hotel is impeccable, and I feel like I'm being watched all the time, which makes it hard for me to relax. Of course, I think it depends on each guest and their personal preference, but I think Entô's sense of distance and demeanor is just right for a solo traveler, like myself.


Ms. Komatsu was looking at the cloudy sky through the window, she told us that when taking pictures of railways, cloudy skies like today's show the steel more clearly. It seems that Ms. Komatsu had one more day of her vacation, longer than she remembered, and she said "The next day, I'm thinking of going back to Shimonoseki City for another night." She has a very flexible and creative perspective. From the beginning to the end, it was a wonderful time when we felt a sense of healing and affirmation about ourselves.


― Writer ―
Yumiko Shiramizu
Born in the prefecture of Fukuoka. From 2017–2021 she worked as a waitress at a long-established ryokan (Japanese-styled hotel) at Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto Prefecture. She came to Ama Town with her pet cat in the summer of 2021 intending to understand the future of tourism through hotels for the first time in her career in the hospitality sector. She's been employed by Ama Co., Ltd. which runs Entô. First, she worked as a housekeeper where she was responsible for cleaning guest rooms and creating spaces. She is also a part of the dining team, where cuisine represents the island's ingredients. Currently, she is working in all departments as a supporter. She's a person who cooks and writes to express her life on the island.

― Photographer ―
Nana Sato
Born in Sapporo, Hokkaido. She spent several years in the United States and became interested in Entô and Ama Town because the hometown of Entô CEO (Atsushi Aoyama) is the same as her. She moved to the island in 2022 after returning to Japan. Even within the company, her taste and style are excellent in the casual pictures she takes of her daily life. She currently works in both marketing and the front desk. She has a habit of dying her hair to colors she likes, and these days she is letting her bright green short hair flow.

― Interviewer / Editor ―
Takuro Komatsuzaki
Born in Ryugasaki City, Ibaraki Prefecture. He is the representative of Educare LLC. After living in Germany, he now lives in Omori Town, Shimane Prefecture, a town nestled in the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site. His family consists of him, his wife, and two chickens.

Nicharee Plubsiri (Yaleen)
Born in Thailand and raised in New Zealand, she moved to Japan in 2017 for her studies. Having to move to the island after her graduation during COVID-19 was an exciting new journey. She currently works as a front desk staff at Entô and as a copywriter, and translator for Oki Islands Geopark Management Bureau. Being the only Thai living on the Oki Islands, she has a hobby with the purpose of promoting Thai culture on the island by joining the local food stall events to sell Thai food that she cooked, while bringing out her unique characteristics and ideas with her handmade goods. She describes herself as a "third-culture kid" and a "jack of all trades."

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