Sky Observation Tower
Japan's southernmost island, Hateruma, is home to Japan's southernmost astronomical observatory. The island enjoys transparent and steady skies while its latitude permits observation of the Southern Cross constellation in whole as you overlook the south until the sea horizon under dark summer skies.
The dome on the third floor shelters a computer controlled 200mm (8 inch) Nishimura refractor, old but in excellent condition. Other equipment includes a CCD camera, an SRL camera and a small Vixen 80mm refractor.

Next to the dome is a large roof deck on which you are free to set up your own telescope or enjoy the universe with a pair of binoculars together with other visitors.

On the second floor is a gallery of panels explaining the solar system and photographs of the southern cross and other constellations taken with the 200mm refractor on Hateruma. Next to the gallery is a small planetarium room, the "star dome", which shows the constellations as they change with the seasons. It is operated with a panel of buttons and recorded explanations which is great for kids.

The entrance is on the first floor (basement) with the reception, rest rooms and the office.

The observation tower is run by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) with headquarters in Tokyo, Mitaka.
9305-1 Hateruma, Taketomi-cho,
Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa 907-1751
Phone: 098-085-8112

Closing days:
Every monday and during New Year.

Admission fees:
Adults: 300 Yen
Children: 150 Yen
Groups over ten: 200 Yen per person

Three times a day, a boat leaves Ishigaki harbour for Hateruma. Since there is no boat back in the night you would stay in one the guest houses (minshuku). The tower is located on the south-east egde of the island. Since the guest house owners will drive you to the tower and pick you up again, you won't need to worry about finding your way.

It is not recommended to walk from your lodge to the tower and back whilst dark (it is really dark out there) -- you will most probably not find your home among the sugarcanes or fall down the cliffs. You may wish to scout the place during daytime with a rental bicycle and get back before the night breaks in.