I have found the truth regarding rumors that “dying is illegal”, “being NEET is illegal” and “even Japanese can easily get permanent residency and start a business” in the world’s northernmost settlement of the Svalbard Islands.

“Dying is illegal!?” This rumor about Svalbard is circulating the internet. What will happen if you die in this town? Will violators be imprisoned for life? Besides that, there is an unusual town where Japanese people can get easily get permanent residency. On the 16th stop of the Domain Island Tour, I went to Svalbard to find out the truth. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) is “.sj”.

◆Where are the Svalbard Islands?

Svalbard is an archipelago in Norwegian territory, approximately halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the Arctic Circle. The largest town is called Longyearbyen and is the most northern settlement in the world. Many things here can be prefaced with “The World’s Northernmost…” From April to August is the time of the midnight sun, meaning that the sun doesn’t set for months.

= Table of Contents =

◆The Northernmost Town in the World “Longyearbyen”

◆An Archipelago with more Polar Bears than People

◆Dying is Illegal!? Being NEET is Illegal!?

◆It’s Easy for Japanese People to get Permanent Residency and Start a Business?

◆ “The World’s Northernmost…” Found Around Svalbard

 ①The World’s Northernmost Ghost Town: “Pyramiden”

 ②Eating at the World’s Northernmost Sushi Restaurant

 ③Other “The World’s Northernmost…

◆Interesting Things in Svalbard

◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & Test the Internet Speed

◆The Phantom Domain “.sj” and the Norwegian Domain “.no”


◆The Northernmost Town in the World “Longyearbyen”

Longyearbyen, the main town of Svalbard, is the northernmost settlement in the world, with a population of over 1,000 people. I arrive at Longyearbyen Airport well after midnight.

But, take a look at my photos. During August, the time of the midnight sun, it’s so bright you can’t believe its late at night.

At the airport, a bus waits for passengers from the incoming flight. I ride the bus to the center of town. I need to tell the bus driver the name of my hotel.

Opposite the airport, I found this interesting signpost, which is not surprising in the world’s northernmost town, I guess. From here it is 5,581 km to New York and 6,830 km to Tokyo. It sinks in to me just how far I’ve come, once again.

It takes about 10 mins. to get to the center of Longyearbyen. From the blue skies of Saint Vincent, the last place I visited (domain “.vc”), to the grey skies of Svalbard.

For people to be able to sleep at night, the hotel has unique black blinds to keep out the midnight sun.

I spot some snowmobiles, a winter mode of transportation. Many of them are made by Yamaha.


◆An Archipelago with more Polar Bears than People

There are about 3,000 polar bears on the Svalbard Islands. In contrast, the human population is about 2,600. So, there are more polar bears than people. Polar bears usually live on the ice, near the seals and other prey, so there is little fear of them coming into town. However, it’s well known that if polar bears start eating human food, they will remember the taste and the location and will keep coming back. For this reason, the residents of Svalbard are very careful about food storage.

If you go a little distance out of town, you’ll see a polar bear sign like this one.

If you go past the sign, you need to carry a gun with you. A warning shot is used to scare off the bears, but the guns would only be used to actually shoot a bear if someone were attacked. It’s important to give a warning shot first because the population of polar bears is declining due to global warming.
These guns were for sale in a corner of the Mountaineering equipment shop in the town center. I was really surprised to see guns for sale in a shopping area.

At the entrance to many buildings, such as supermarkets and restaurants, there are signs that prohibit carrying a gun inside. Though it seems there have never been any crimes committed with these guns. I feel very safe, maybe because of the bright midnight sun.

I wasn’t able to see any real polar bears, but I did see polar bear illustrations all over town. When you visit, look for a cute, Instagram-able polar bear to take a picture with.

These stuffed toy polar bears are being sold from a fridge. But the fridge is not running.
By the way, do you know the difference between a polar bear and a white bear in Japanese? Actually, their official name is polar bear, so there is no difference.

f you want to know more about polar bears, I recommend the northernmost museum “Svalbard Museum”. You can get a close-up view of the museum’s main attraction, a real stuffed polar bear. Getting this close, you get an overwhelming sense of the polar bear’s size and power. Also, you can learn about the polar bear’s ecology and relationship to humans, as well as the history of Svalbard.

This male polar bear ignored several warning shots and kept approaching humans in March 2005, unfortunately he had to be shot and killed.

If you want to see polar bears in the wild, there are plenty of tours you can take, so you might be able to see them.
There is also something called “Polar bear jokes” in this area. Best to know before you visit.


Dying is Illegal!? Being NEET is Illegal!?

From 1918 to 1919, the Spanish influenza was pandemic worldwide. An estimated 500 million people were infected and some 50 to 100 million people died. The Spanish flu came to Longyearbyen as well, but due to the extreme cold, if a body was buried, it froze, allowing the virus to live on. For this reason, there’s a rumor on the internet that dying in Svalbard is illegal, for fear a pandemic virus will live on to re-infect future generations.

When I asked the local authorities if this was true, they said to me “If that were so, what could we do to punish a corpse?” There did seem to be some inconsistency there.
It turns out that “dying is not illegal” on Svalbard, but there are some particular regulations and circumstances around dying.

①You cannot be buried on Svalbard

This is connected to the unique climate of Svalbard. Because of the severe cold, bodies buried in the ground don’t decompose. If a corpse doesn’t decompose, viruses etc. will remain in the corpse, therefore, the government prohibits burials for fear of a virus living on to re-infect people.

As Svalbard has no crematorium, bodies are shipped to Norway, where they are cremated and then the ashes returned to Svalbard for burial.

②Medical Care on Svalbard

The locals told me that there is only one hospital in the Svalbard Archipelago, with one doctor and several nurses. When a woman needs to give birth, she usually goes to the Norwegian mainland because the hospital is not well enough equipped on Svalbard.

Besides giving birth, there are many other treatments that are not available on Svalbard, so people go to the hospitals in Norway.

For this reason, many people who are ill or facing death, end up meeting their end in hospitals in Norway, not on Svalbard.
For these two reasons, I supposed the false idea came about that dying is illegal on Svalbard. It’s not illegal to die, but most people meet their end in Norway, and then are buried on Svalbard after being cremated in Norway.

Being NEET is illegal (Not in Education, Employment or Training) that is, you can’t live in Svalbard if you don’t have a job. Unemployed people will be immediately deported. However, if retired and unemployed people can prove that they have sufficient means to support themselves, they will not be deported, so really, it’s ok to be NEET if you have a lot of money.

[reference]

Is It Illegal to Die in Longyearbyen, Norway?

A Harsh Climate Calls for Banishment of the Needy


◆It’s Easy for Japanese People to get Permanent Residency and Start a Business?

Japan is one of the member nations of the Svalbard Treaty. Citizens of treaty member nations can go to Svalbard without a visa, they can live there, start a business or work part-time. In front of the supermarket, children open a street stall.

In order to clarify these matters regarding permanent residency and doing business, I went to the government office to ask “Can I open a Sushi restaurant on Svalbard?”

I went inside and explained the situation, then I was taken to a private room for a consultation.

First, about permanent residency on Svalbard. If you are from one of the member nations you have the same rights as a Norwegian citizen, so you can have permanent residency without a visa. However, because it’s so cold, most people can’t live here long term, the average people can stand it seems to be about 4 years. Incomes on Svalbard are lower than in Norway, but it seems if people have their own reasons for coming here, such as ‘they want to spend their time doing more interesting things than making money’ or ‘they feel it’s worth it, because Svalbard is not as developed as mainland Norway’ etc., then they can make it work.

What about a Business? As with permanent residency, a citizen of a treaty member nation can open a business without a work permit. So yes, I can have a sushi restaurant. The most difficult part of starting a business on Svalbard (in this case a sushi restaurant) is securing a location. The area allocated for businesses in Longyearbyen is more limited than you might expect. But, if you could overcome this difficulty, there would be no other problem.

I was also given advice to look for work on sites like “Facebook and nav.no”.
There seems to be a temporary need for part-time workers. I actually checked some of these sites earlier and there was one for a watchman to “warn if a polar bear starts to approach”. I’d like to try my hand at this, if the job is still available.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1880619582227141/

 

https://www.nav.no/

 

The biggest challenge of living on Svalbard is adapting to the harsh climate. So, if you want to become a Svalbard resident, that is ‘a guest of the polar bears, the true residents of the islands’, please contact the Svalbard government office. A kind person will answer your inquiries.


◆”The World’s Northernmost…” Found in Svalbard

①The World’s Northernmost Ghost Town: “Pyramiden”

Discovered by Sweden in 1910, Pyramiden is located on Spitsbergen Island. In 1927, it was sold to the former Soviet Union, and became a busy mining town. But the coal mine closed in 1998, and the entire town was abandoned.
Owned by the Russian company “Trust Arktikugol”, it is now a popular ghost town. The infrastructure has been improved and there is a hotel there open for business.

I’m going on a ghost town tour by boat.

The boat crew and guide.

Not only can we see the ghost town on the tour, but also glaciers and dramatic cliffs.

It’s a surprisingly spacious boat, with room to get seasick in peace, or if a polar bear attacks there’s space for running away.

In winter, the sea is frozen so you can go to Pyramiden by snowmobile. On our way to the ghost town, we pass the Nordenskiöldbreen Glacier and observe many cliffs full of seabirds.

August is nest-building season. I was able to see a variety of birds including the Atlantic puffin.

I found a seal drifting on an ice berg.

I tried zooming in. It was far away but I could see it moving a little. In other words, we could have polar bears nearby.

This tour includes barbecued whale meat for lunch and whiskey with glacier ice.

Wow, I’m excited to drink whisky with ice from a glacier right in front of the glacier! While I’m waiting expectantly for my whiskey, two of the crew throw a kind of net into the ocean. It catches some of the ice drifting by. The 1st time they missed, the 2nd time they got it. Locally procured ice! I was so engrossed with the surrounding scenery, I didn’t pay attention to the ocean, but I have a feeling it was a little dirty.

On the deck, the crew crushes the ice they caught.

This ice tastes of history, formed over many years.

Although the color of the water where the ice was drifting was a bit worrisome, it goes without saying that the whisky tasted better than ever before. Please note, there isn’t always drifting ice, and even if there is, they might not be able to catch any, so there’s no guarantee that you can drink whiskey with glacial ice if you join this tour.

We arrive at Spitsbergen 2-3 hours after we left Longyearbyen. From this point on we’ll have a Russian guide. He explains the history of Pyramiden and the life of people at those time in an easy-to-understand way.

Pyramiden has a variety of buildings such as apartments (with names like Paris and London), pools and sports facilities, schools, cultural centers, including music halls, dining facilities for residents, and warehouses for storing food. You could see that it used to be a prosperous town. The people who worked here at the time had generous support from the government, it seems that housing and food were free.

The world’s northernmost Lenin statue. According to the guide, this Lenin statue is one that is commonly found around Russia (mass produced).

At the cultural center behind the statue of Lenin, the former library has been partially renovated into a souvenir shop and small cafe.

You can buy Russian vodka in Pyramiden, but most Russians have never heard of the place. However, since Pyramiden is historically significant for Russia, in recent years more people are coming to sightsee here.

As a ghost town, I had the idea that Pyramiden would be in ruins, but the central part of the town has been completely renovated, so there’s no impression of “ruins”. Rather, it was impressive that almost everything from that era of Russia remained intact.
The coal mine a little way away does have a bit of a ruined atmosphere. I wanted to go in, but it was not part of this tour.

For some reason, this apartment building alone has become a residence for birds. Even the guide says “Why did the all the birds choose this building exactly?” It’s mysterious. The birds are so noisy all the time.

②Eating at the World’s Northernmost Sushi Restaurant

A sushi restaurant in the Svalbard Islands. I went because I had to try the world’s northernmost sushi restaurant.
It’s called “NUGA Sushi & Noodles”. I’m thinking that ocean-going fish caught near the Arctic Circle must be strong, healthy fish.

The restaurant was in “Hotel Svalbard The Vault”

I ordered “Kyoto” off the menu.

The roll had broken a little by the time it was served, but the salmon was amazing! So, I can forgive them if the rice is not a good as Japanese rice.
European sushi often has fruit in it, or complicated arrangements, but this place keeps it simple.

I see that there is ramen on the menu. I order the chicken ramen. This is the northernmost sushi restaurant in the world.

The soup is a little thinner than it would be in Japan, but this is not bad ramen. The noodles are very tasty, but I feel like they are a little soft, like Chinese style noodles. It’s a creative ramen with crispy chicken. Also, broccoli.

I ordered gyoza dumplings as well.

The taste of the gyoza is quite different from the taste I’m familiar with. The skin is crispy but the sauce is sweet. It might be better to think of it as a “Svalbard dumpling” and eat it with different expectations.
The world’s northernmost sushi restaurant; “NUGA Sushi & Noodles” was also the world’s northernmost ramen shop.

③Other “The World’s Northernmost …”

  • “The world’s northernmost tourist information center.” If you want to enjoy Longyearbyen safely, I recommend taking a tour. This is where I booked my tour to Pyramiden.

 

  • “The world’s northernmost tourist information center.” If you want to enjoy Longyearbyen safely, I recommend taking a tour. This is where I booked my tour to Pyramiden.

 

  • “The world’s northernmost post office. There were a lot of postal boxes.

 

  • “The world’s northernmost museum”; the North Pole Expedition Museum. The who and what of those trying to reach the North Pole is explained here in detail. In those days, trying to reach the North Pole was a daring and incredibly difficult endeavor.


◆Interesting Things in Svalbard

① This town map is helpful to figure out where you want to go in Longyearbyen. I think it takes about an hour to walk from one side to the other.

 

②When you want to go to Pyramiden or other places beside Longyearbyen, this is a guide of available boat tours.

 

③A “Sushi Kit” for sale in the supermarket.

 

④A statue of a coal miner in the center of town. I wonder if the local people meet up here, like at the statue of Hachiko in Shibuya?

 

⑤The “Svalbard Buss og Taxi”, where you can take a two hour ride around Longyearbyen with a local guide as your driver.
This is the view from the top of the hill, about 10 minutes from Longyearbyen.

I also saw a flock of birds like geese.

This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Currently, the area is under construction, so we couldn’t go close. Construction will be finished soon.

I was surprised to see quite a few wild reindeer near the town area. They don’t seem to have any natural enemy.

This is a facility for sled dogs. Getting in shape for the winter performance.

Thank you, knowledgeable local taxi driver!

 

⑥If you want to eat something unique to Svalbard instead of just sushi or ramen, I recommend “Gruvelageret” in Longyearbyen.

They only have dinner courses, with very specialty dishes.
“Local mushroom ravioli with winter-dried reindeer and mushroom sauce” on the left,
and “Arctic char with king crab sauce and baked beetroot” on the right.


◆How to Purchase a SIM Locally & Test the Internet Speed

At Svalbard Airport, I couldn’t find anything like a communications kiosk, so I couldn’t get a SIM card.

I looked for a prepaid SIM card for travel in the supermarket, but I couldn’t find it, so this time I used “GlocalMe”. Around Longyearbyen it works just fine. When I measured the speed at fast.com, it was faster than I expected. Because we are so far north, the Internet may be an important means of communication (or of killing time).


◆ The Phantom Domain “.sj” and the Norwegian Domain “.no”

The country code top level domain (ccTLD) assigned to the Svalbard archipelago of Norway is “.sj”. However, although it is registered to a route server, the registry policy is to not use the domain name. So, “.sj” is a domain that no one can use. In Longyearbyen, I found “.no” the Norwegian ccTLD being used, rather than “.sj”.

  • Restaurant “KROA”, (in the right season, you can eat seal steak here.) This waitress has been living in Svalbard since February 2019.
    https://www.kroa-svalbard.no/

 

I thought “The World’s Northernmost Town” was going to be a remote, lonely area for solitary exploration. But actually, August isn’t that cold, and it seems like this is a summer get-away place for elderly Europeans.
I guess I’ll have to come back in winter to experience the truly harsh climate of Svalbard.


The following is a summary of the places visited during the Domain Island Tour.

 

■For Access Details to the Svalbard Islands,Click Here

■ For “.no” Domain Details and Application, Click Here

 

Have Pirates Come Back to Life in “Dangerous” Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

I started off this Island Domain tour series by first flying 40 hours one-way to get to Tuvalu. Now I’m on the 15th stop of the Domain Island Tour; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (I will refer to both as Saint Vincent in this post.) The ccTLD (country code top level domain) is “.vc” often used for “Venture Capital”. All dollar notations in the article are East Caribbean Dollars. * 1 ECD $ = 40.96 Yen

◆Where is Saint Vincent?

Located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, and made up of Saint Vincent, a volcanic island, and the Grenadines, which are coral reefs, this country is a part of the British Commonwealth.

= Table of Contents =

◆Taking a Walk Around “Dangerous” Saint Vincent

◆Pirates Come Back to Life

◆Searching for a Pirate Ship in Fort Charlotte

◆Why Don’t You Eat More Fish? The Cuisine of Saint Vincent

◆The Oldest Botanical Garden in the West and the Known Origin of the Maracas

◆Provisional World Heritage, an Ancient Caribbean Petroglyph

◆”Little Tokyo” Made with Help from Japan

◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Local Internet Speed

◆A Visit to the “.vc” Domain Registry


◆Taking a Walk Around “Dangerous” Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent was ranked eighth in the world for murder rates in 2016, and one must be on guard against theft and robbery in the streets. On high alert, I start my walk in the capital city, Kingstown.

An internet cafe caught my eye, almost immediately. In Tonga, I had to walk all over to find an internet cafe, how about in Saint Vincent?
I climb to the second floor on stairs that have the same color as the flag of Saint Vincent.

At the entrance.

As I step inside, I can see that one corner of an electronics shop is an internet cafe.

I got a 15 min. trial plan for $ 2 (about 80 yen). Opening up the browser.

Checking the URL, and it was the Saint Vincent ccTLD “.com.vc”. Next, to measure the connection speed.

On the speed test site the speed was 10 Mbps. Unlike internet cafes in Japan, the surrounding people didn’t seem to be watching video sharing sites like YouTube. To look something up, this speed is just fine.

In Saint Vincent, I was able to find a comfortable internet environment.

I found a shop with many people coming and going, it was a KFC like we have in Japan. I somehow feel relieved to see a shop I know. There’s no McDonald’s in Saint Vincent, so this KFC is a valued fast food restaurant.

It was lunch time and there were many people.

Glancing at the menu, there are many desserts too.

I ordered the “Zinger” similar to the Chicken Fillet Sandwich in Japan, with fries and a drink. $ 17.05 (about 700 yen).
The “Zinger” is universally loved, with freshly fried chicken and a spicy mayonnaise sauce.

For my drink, I chose a fizzy drink called “Red Kola Champagne”. I thought it was a Cola, but the spelling was not the same.

As red as strawberry syrup, I thought it would be very sweet, but actually it was a kind of sour fruit juice. Apparently, this drink comes from Trinidad and Tobago, another Caribbean country. I guess this is an item limited to the Caribbean.


◆Pirates Come Back to Life

My image of the Caribbean is strongly connected to Pirates. From 1660 to 1730, Pirates were the most active in the Caribbean. Nowadays, there are many anime series, movies etc. that draw inspiration from pirates, such as ONE PIECE, with its Shirohige (Whitebeard) and Kurohige (Blackbeard), modeled on a real pirate named Edward Teach who overran the Caribbean. Although some may think that pirates are a thing of the past, in fact, there were 71 maritime incidents of piracy in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, an increase of 163% over the previous year. Saint Vincent is also considered a hotbed of piracy.
Do you think I might actually meet a real pirate here? !

First, I went to Wallilabou Bay, where “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed, to learn about pirates.

It’s about 30 minutes drive from Kingstown.

This is a very ancient-looking building. On the door says “Port Royal Set Buildings”. Port Royal is a town in Jamaica, and in Pirates of the Caribbean, this building was a film set for a scene supposed to take place in Port Royal.

Leaning on the wall like that, the coffins remind me of beach parasols.

As you enter the building, there are pictures of the leading performers and a schedule.

Pictures of cast members, including an adorable behind the scenes shot of Johnny Depp who played Captain Jack Sparrow.

Not only photos, but also props and set pieces were on display.

I thought that this was another set, but when I entered the building, it was a warehouse not connected to the movies, with many old phones and registers. But, why is there a straw hat here? … (first photo, lower left) Is the most famous pirate in Japan coming?!

In the days when pirates gathered together in Port Royal, it was called “the richest and the worst city in the world.” As a warning to others, pirates who were caught were executed and left to hang at the entrance of the port. Looking toward the cove, you can see an arch-like rock. It may be the rock from which a pirate’s corpse was hanging in the movie.

Although dead in the sights of the artillery from the set, it’s not a pirate ship.

There was also a real “pillory” (a kind of instrument of torture.)

And a dog taking a rest on the set. Even if I bribed him with bones, it’s unlikely he could sneak the jail key for me.

The cafe next to the set has a nice lunch selection, so you can enjoy a meal while thinking about movies.

Admission for these sets is free. This is where you can get the real Caribbean pirate feeling. Now I feel that if I happen to encounter a real pirate, we could understand each other.


◆Searching for a Pirate Ship from Fort Charlotte

I went to Fort Charlotte, which is west of Kingstown. From the top of the fortifications, which were completed in 1806, you can see Kingstown and Bequia, one of the islands of the Grenadines.

This would be a good place to spot a pirate ship.

They may be busy refueling.

While I waited patiently, the sun started to set.

As you can see, there’s no pirate ship, or any ship at all.

I gave up looking for a pirate ship.

I decided to check out one of the building on the premises.

There’s a display of paintings depicting the times when the people of Saint Vincent were slaves.

Fort Charlotte is a free tourist attraction. Many tourists come through, so it’s a good spot to educated people about the sad events of history. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset and for local people to come and relax. Some male tour guides may approach you to explain the history, but please be aware that these tours are not free.

Click here for the 360° shot of the sunset

Charlotte Fort (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


◆Why Don’t You Eat More Fish? The Cuisine of Saint Vincent

For dinner, I went to the “Mangoz Restaurant and Bar” in the Arnos Vale area.

I sat outside on the open terrace. Near the sea, there’s a lovely breeze.

Hairoun, a local beer, is a lager beer whose bottle resembles the green Heineken bottle. It has a mild flavor, and goes well with the somewhat oily food.

I asked them to “Please bring me the local specialty.” They brought a soup, the color of which is difficult to express in words. It’s called Callaloo soup, and it’s a blend of taro leaves and local ingredients harvested in this area. Although the color was a little off-putting, it tasted good and didn’t have that grassy smell. The price was $ 20 (about 800 yen).

The main dish was sautéed conch. The crunchy texture of the shellfish went well with the spicy sauce reminiscent of curry. Conch clams, which I also ate in Anguilla, are popular here too. The price was $ 55 (about 2,200 yen).

The deep-fried shrimp were also delicious, but since this is an island surrounded by the sea, I was expecting more fish dishes. So, I found out that although Saint Vincent has abundant fishery resources, the ordinary people don’t have that much opportunity to eat fish. Therefore, the Fisheries Bureau is trying to promote fish in the diet with the slogan “Put a Fish on Your Dish”. Surprising, but yes, it seems the people of Saint Vincent eat very little fish.

This place is open from 9:00 am.


◆The Oldest Botanical Garden in the West and the Known Origin of the Maracas

Saint Vincent, with its abundant nature, has the oldest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere. The Botanical Gardens, established in 1765.

Entry for one adult is $ 5 (about 200 yen) At the reception desk, you have the option of asking for a tour guide for a fee of $ 10 per person (about 400 yen).

As soon as I went in, a man named Cornelius started talking to me. “I will be your guide” he said. I was confused because I didn’t ask for a tour guide, but anyhow the tour started. Unsure if he was actually part of the staff of this garden, I followed him and listened to his tour.

It feels like an English garden, probably because Saint Vincent is part of the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom.

While observing the flowers and trees, Cornelius handed me a dry leaf. It’s a ylang-ylang leaf. Yiang-yiang leaves are used for Chanel No. 5, and are blended with various other fragrances. It’s just a leaf, but I give it a sniff, it certainly has a good smell.

The unexpected guide, Cornelius, cuts off the leaves and hand them back, one after another. Then he cut the trunk of a rubber tree, so the sap came out. It seems a rather daring thing to do.

Cinnamon, also well know in Japan. Of course, I know it as sticks or powder, but I haven’t had many opportunities to see it as a whole tree. The bark has a strong cinnamon smell.

The Maracas palm, with a fruit the size of my little finger.

It will grow like this, to the size of a human face. I put my iPhone SE beside it to show the size.

It is thought that the musical instrument the maraca was first made by drying this fruit.

When looking at a Mimosa tree (Japanese: Ojigiso), Cornelius takes out a lighter. He seems to be flicking the flame a bit obsessively.

Apparently, this is to show the reaction of the leaf when heated up. The mimosa leaf closed up from the tip and eventually the whole leaf drooped. He certainly goes to a lot of trouble for me, though I never asked for a tour.

He picked up and cracked a nutmeg fruit for me. If you eat too much nutmeg, the spice can cause hallucinations and lead to a most terrible death.

Finally, we came to a large cage with a Saint Vincent Amazon (or Saint Vincent Parrot) a species endemic to Saint Vincent and the national bird. Cornelius says “Hello!” but the bird doesn’t answer. Usually, the bird answers back with “Hello!”, he tells me.

The Botanical Gardens are open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, with a variety of plants and endemic species from the local Caribbean area. Still unsure if Cornelius is a guide or just happened to be there, we say goodbye and part ways.


◆Provisional World Heritage, an Ancient Caribbean Petroglyph

Engravings, or “Petroglyphs” made by the indigenous “Arawak” people can be found on islands of the Caribbean, although the people themselves have mostly disappeared due to conflicts with other tribes and European aggression. In Saint Vincent, you can see petroglyphs at the Layou Petroglyph Park.

Developed in cooperation with the European Union in 2009, it is provisionally listed on the World Heritage Convention list.

Admission is $ 2 per person (about 80 yen). When you enter the building, there are photos of the petroglyphs found in the Caribbean region. The lady who is receptionist / guide explained each one.

However, she used such a quiet whisper to explain, that I had to ask again and again. When you visit, be prepared to listen very carefully. In the photos, the petroglyphs can be recognized by white lines, this digital processing makes them easier to see. The real ones are lines carved in the rock, so they have no color.

Finally, we follow the guide to the site of the petroglyph.

I could see a big rock.

This petroglyph here is supposed to have been made around 300-600 AD. You can faintly see some lines on the rocks.

It was a bit hard to see, so I enlarged it and marked it with white lines. Can you see it? It seems like faces are carved on the rock. According to the guide, this is a mother and child scene.

There’s a face carved on the top of the rock as well. Much of the meaning of these petroglyphs remains unknown.

You can get close to the rock and even touch it. The lady guide took a photo with this rock. She was so quiet and whispery with her first explanation, but later all I remember is that she laughed so hard.

Why not visit and see if you can figure out the meaning of the mysterious petroglyphs?


◆”Little Tokyo” Made with Help from Japan

I went back to Kingstown. So far, I have been visiting pretty safe areas, so today I will try to be cautious about safety and walk around the capital city a bit.

While I was walking on Bay Street, I found a bus terminal called “Little Tokyo”.

Here they have a wagon kind of car modified into a “Van” which is used as a mini-bus. All routes depart from here. There were all kinds of buses. I saw a Japanese car, but so far, I don’t feel the area is very “Tokyo-ish”.

There’s a fish market next door. I was drawn in by the lively voices of people.

Many fresh fish are for sale, just like you find in Japan. In Saint Vincent it seems they also eat whale, which is sometimes called “black fish”. As a result of promoting more fishing activities using fish aggregating devices (FADs) since 2015, large migratory fish (such as yellowfin tuna and marlin) have landed in this fish market.

This lady owns a restaurant. It seems she comes to stock up on fish.

On a plaque on the outer wall it says that the Kingstown Fish Market was completed in 2005 with grant aid from the Japanese people, as proof of the friendship and cooperation between Japan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This fish market was built by Japan’s ODA project in the late 1980s.

In 2005, Japan also provided grant aid for repair work necessary due to aging.
For this reason, the fish market and the area around the bus terminal are called “Little Tokyo”.


◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Local Internet Speed

Although Wi-Fi rental services for going overseas are on the rise, certain areas are not covered. In such situations, you can buy a local SIM.

At the Argyle International Airport, I bought a SIM from FLOW, a popular communications company in Saint Vincent.

This is the SIM from FLOW. The clerk activated it for me, which is helpful. I bought a plan of 500 MB for one week. The price was $ 15 (about 600 yen).

After activation the speed result was 14 Mbps. It was no problem to look things up, and I could use it comfortably around town.

Apart from FLOW, there were no other communications companies at the airport.


◆A Visit to the “.vc” Domain Registry

The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for Saint Vincent is “.vc”. I find it being used by a local publishing company and internet service provider.

This time, I made a special visit to the “.vc” domain registry, the NTRC (National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission). I arrive at a very nice building in Kingstown.

I climbed the stairs and found a sign for the office.

Mr. Apollo Knight, director of NTRC, answered my questions. Talking about “.vc” being used as an abbreviation for venture capital and used by investment companies, he said “it was unintentional but a very good thing as the number of users increased.” He also talked about domain usage in Saint Vincent. He was a very friendly director.

“The “.vc” domain is a very cool domain. Also, Saint Vincent itself is a great place to go sightseeing!” commented the friendly Mr. Knight.

 

And after all, I didn’t experience any safety issues in Saint Vincent, but I will continue the Domain Island Tour with care and attention.

■Access to Saint Vincent Click Here

■For Domain detailsClick here