THERE'S A RIGHT WAY and a wrong way to enter Hoshinoya Okinawa. As I get out of the car that picked me up from Taketomi harbour and reach the clean, white, limestone walls of the resort, I'm faced with two entrances: one on the left and one on the right. I must enter and leave by the left entrance, hotel staff tell me; the right one is reserved for the gods. I do as instructed. The last thing I want to do in a place as calm and peaceful as this is invoke the wrath of the gods. Taketomi is a small island, a hidden gem in the subtropical Yaeyama islands, part of the remote southern Japanese region of Okinawa, It's a short ferry ride from Ishigaki which recently opened a gleaming new airport. The island has only about 350 people living on it, an uncrowded, unhurried place for travellers to get away from it all. The sun's beaming when I arrive. Blue skies and clear sparkling oceans. I'm given some herb tea and a light tofu pudding while I check in, then a golf cart carries me to my villa. At the limestone walls to the villa, I remember to take the left doorway, leaving the gods' side unused. I slide the villa's door aside and take my shoes off at the entrance to protect the tatami mat inside. When I later look around the town and visit a traditional Taketomi wooden house, I see just how similar it is to the design of Hoshinoya's villas. Inside, it's spacious, uncluttered, elegant. The wall frames are made from Japanese cedar, with flooring and other furniture in a dark wood called Imbuia. As well as several sections of tatami mat flooring, there are other classic Japanese elements, including sliding paper doors and, in a paper-walled bedroom, a futon. The villa has a comfy lounge area, complete with iPod dock and Wi-Fi, looking out onto a walled courtyard at the front. Even at the big open window, there's a feeling of privacy, sectioned away from any of the other villas. Flowing from the living room is a modern, smartly lit bathroom area with a free-standing bathtub at the centre and a big shower room. At the heart of the resort is a long sleek dark pool. There's also an on-site spa, though I don't find time to use it. Instead, I borrow a slightly rickety old bicycle from the hotel and explore the island, including white-sand beaches. At night, I eat in the hotel's restaurant. They serve Ryukyu Nouvelle, an interesting fusion of French cuisine with local ingredients. Okinawa used to be called the Ryukyu Kingdom and was independent from Japan. It's not surprising at all that they use local produce. Okinawa is famous for having one of the world's healthiest diets, with plenty of fresh fish and seafood, local seaweeds, tofu, vegetables and fruit, all of which helps inhabitants to live longer lives. And healthy here doesn't mean scrimping on taste. There's a fantastic, flavourful ripened tomato gazpacho with fresh basil from the hotel's herb garden, then Taketomi prawn-and-carrot rolls. The main is a delicious sea bass with ginger, and to finish, fresh mango from the Yaeyama islands served with Hagoromo Farm goat milk ice cream. The meal's also unusual in Japan for the fact that the French-style cooking requires the use of knife and fork. After a comfortable night on the futon, I make my way back past the pool to the restaurant. Breakfast again makes use of healthy local produce, with Okinawan tofu pancakes served with a local fruit sauce, poached egg, tofu, warm mackerel and local vegetables. I make my way into town and take a ride on a cart pulled around the village by a lumbering water buffalo. Her pace perfectly captures the island's vibe: very, very laidback.