[Why I Travel to Entô] “I feel like I have become so lively without knowing the reason why” Entô guest, Ms. Tomo Yamaguchi. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep.04


Interview Ama town

Yumiko Shiramizu

[Why I Travel to Entô] “I feel like I have become so lively without knowing the reason why” Entô guest, Ms. Tomo Yamaguchi. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep.04

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 again and again?

What makes Entô so different and worth visiting?

Guests 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 our guests about their reasons for visiting the island and the abundance and light they found during their stay.


Influenced by her partner who had traveled to the Oki Islands alone before her, Ms. Tomo Yamaguchi chose the Oki Islands for her first solo trip in ten years. She shared with us that the experience has become a source of energy for herself.

Click here for the first part:
[Why I Travel to Entô] “I want to feel something on this island” Entô Guest, Ms. Tomo Yamaguchi. The Oki Islands / Sightseeing | Ep. 03

Text by: Yumiko Shiramizu
Photos by: Tomo Yamaguchi
Interviewer: Nana Sato and Runa Sasaki
Interviewer & Editor: Educare
Translation by: Nicharee Plubsiri

Expanding New Perspectives Through Experiences

── We heard that you stayed at Entô for two nights, how did you spend your time here?

Ms. Yamaguchi I spent my time connecting with other tourists and the locals. For me, the ideal solo trip is to be able to casually talk with strangers about things like how nice the weather is today. In the past I had given up, thinking that it was only possible in the world of those who can hear.

However, on this solo trip after ten years, for the first time, I clearly stated "I'm deaf, so please write to communicate with me." Then, for example, at the Matengai Cliff in Nishinoshima Town, I was told about an even better viewing spot beyond what I thought was a dead end.

Despite facing many challenges at work, I constantly think about how to communicate better. By daring to practice this during my trip, I realised that new perspectives open up beyond that.



"Self-talk," Something That I Have Forgotten to Do For a Long Time.

── Is it true that usually you rarely have a chance to have a proper talk with yourself and recollect your thoughts?

Ms. Yamaguchi That is true. I'm juggling jobs, and when interacting with people, I focus on visual information, which uses a lot of mental and physical energy. Lately, watching Netflix to relax has become a habit when I want to rest properly. However, when staying at Entô, I felt a different kind of relaxation, which is hard to put into words, but it was a special comfort.

── In that sense, did you notice any changes within yourself before and after your stay at Entô?

Ms. Yamaguchi Although I felt it myself, my colleagues and customers have been saying to me, "You seem more lively." I believe I have gained so much energy that it can't be put into words, and it's also radiating to those around me.


The Views from the Room Fill Me With Energy

── We think we understand what you're trying to say! It seems like you received energy from interacting with people and various other things, but what gave you the most energy during your trip?

Ms. Yamaguchi That would be the view from Entô. I live near the sea, but Entô offers a view of the sea right in front of you, so close, even though you're looking from inside. I was moved by a scene I had never seen before. In the minimal and simple room, I watched the waving sea, passing ferries, and the changing colours of the sky and trees while drinking my favourite coffee. It felt like looking at beautiful art in a museum.

Since I started working in customer-related roles, my brain and body have always been working at their full capacity and I struggle with the alarm every morning. But at Entô, I woke up before the alarm to a beautiful view from the bed. Speaking about this now brings back those scenes, filling me with a warm and dreamy feeling.



Ms. Yamaguchi During dinner, I communicated with Ms. Fujiwara, a dining staff member through writing. Thanks to her I got to learn about the charm of various local ingredients. I spontaneously added breakfast for the next morning, and the view on the final morning was different and very mesmerizing. When I saw a ferry passing by, thinking I would be on that ferry going home made me feel a little bit sad, and I wanted to cherish every minute and second left.

──  It's very touching to hear about your enjoyable stay. Hearing about your trip directly like this is very gratifying.

Ms. Yamaguchi I can't quite explain it, but I feel like I have gained so much energy and become so lively without knowing the reason why.

── You might have received it during your stay at Entô, and even now, as you talk, we can feel your energy radiating through the screen.

Ms. Yamaguchi This might be the first time I've had an indescribable trip. I deeply empathised with my husband's feelings when he returned refreshed from the Oki Islands and thanked me. This birthday was also a gift from him. Although it was a solo trip, I was able to enjoy the Oki Islands thanks to the help of my husband and many other people along the way.

Whether Being Able to Hear or Not

Ms. Yamaguchi After arriving at Entô, I talked with Ms. Sasaki, saying, "It was very difficult to communicate on my way here because I can't hear." She replied, "The Oki Islands is a hard place to travel to, whether you can hear or not."

── Oh wow, that's an interesting point of view! Thank you for sharing so many interesting stories from your trip with us. So in the end, what does the Oki Islands mean to you, Ms. Yamaguchi?

Ms. Yamaguchi Although I am deaf, I see it as a place where I can feel with all my senses. It is a place where I gained so much energy, beyond what I could ever put into words. Looking back at the photos I took there before this interview, memories flooded back instantly. I've travelled to many places, but I've never been so charmed by and feel mesmerised after the trip by any other places like here.

I never thought I would be able to see myself objectively like this, but that became possible perhaps because of my trip to the Oki Islands. It's a distant place with views unlike anywhere else in Japan, making it hard to believe that I'm still in Japan, which is why I think I have gained so much from it.

I want to share what I have gained from this trip with many other people.


Postscript/Interview Side Notes

Ms. Sasaki Thank you for sharing your story.
I feel gratitude for every word Ms. Tomo said. Even though we are online and apart, I can feel your vibrant energy through the screen, and it makes me feel happy. I think the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and spreads that energy to those around you. It's like creating a positive cycle, which is truly wonderful. Since meeting you at Entô, I've felt admiration and excitement, and after hearing today's story, I want to be like you even more.

Mr. Komatsuzaki Truly, the warm feelings even reached me. Ms. Shiramizu, and Ms. Sato, how about you?

Ms. Shiramizu I was the one who suggested that we should interview you, Ms. Yamaguchi. It's true that up until now we rarely had guests with hearing disability, but it's not only about that of course. I noticed changes in the staff working on-site during you stay. People who usually don't take the lead did so, and I felt that we had welcomed a significant guest. What I saw might be minor changes in the staff, but after hearing today's story it connected everything, and it makes me feel very happy.

Ms. Sato I saw you Ms. Yamguchi for the first time during check-out, and even though it was a brief moment, you had such a lovely smile, and I wanted to meet you again. I had many questions I wanted to ask you today, and I feel like I heard everything I wanted. Your shining aura gave me energy, and I was inspired to become someone like that. Please visit us again! I want to talk more.

Ms. Yamaguchi Thank you for remembering me! I'm very happy.

Mr. Komatsuzaki The reasons Ms. Shiramizu and Ms. Sato from the editorial department recommended you among many guests have become so clear. Even through the screen, you are truly shining.

Ms. Plubsiri As someone who translated this interview from Japanese to English, I felt very warm-hearted reading the interview in Japanese and tried my best to convey everything properly in English. I was there (as a front desk receptionist) when Ms. Yamguchi checked-in and she was sparkling with a lively energy. It has been an honour welcoming her to the island, translating her and the staff's words, and sharing them with the readers in English. I truly hope everyone felt touched and inspired after reading this interview, knowing that anything is possible as long as you step out of your comfort zone and try.

・   ・   ・


At the end, Ms. Yamaguchi suggested, "As a memento of meeting everyone, how about we learn one sign language?" and she taught us how to express "Faraway Island (Entô)" in Japanese Sign Language (JSL).

Faraway: For both hands put all of your fingertips together then face both hand's fingertips together, like they are kissing, then pull the right hand away from yourself.

Island: Imagine your left hand as an island, so make a fist on your left hand, facing downward (palm facing down). On the right hand, face your palm up and place it in front of your fist, on the side that is farther from you then rotate it to the back that is closer to you, it should look like you wrote a U shape from back to front, looking from the right side. The left-hand gesture represents an island and the right-hand movement represents the sea that is surrounding the island. And there you go! Now you can say Entô in Japanese sign language (JSL).

While teaching us the sign language for "Entô" Ms. Yamaguchi seems to really enjoy herself. Seeing her talk with a smile, made us feel very heart-warming.


― 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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