Okinawa Tourist Attractions: How to enjoy Ishigakijima

okinawa

Introduction

Ishigaki Island is a beautiful island located in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, that attracts visitors with its rich nature and diverse activities. Located in the heart of the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki Island boasts a diverse natural environment with emerald green waters, white sandy beaches, and tropical forests. The island is an ideal location for outdoor activities such as diving, snorkeling, and hiking, as well as a popular destination for relaxing resorts.

The charm of Ishigaki Island is not limited to its natural beauty. Local culture and history are also deeply rooted in the island, offering many discoveries and impressions to visitors. Ishigaki Island offers many events and festivals where you can experience the traditional Okinawan culture and learn more about Okinawa through interaction with the local people.

Furthermore, Ishigaki Island is also a treasure trove of delicious gourmet food. Restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy fresh seafood and unique Okinawan cuisine are scattered all over the island. Especially, dishes using Ishigaki beef and island vegetables are a must-try when you visit.

Access is also very convenient. Ishigaki Island has Ishigaki Airport with many direct flights from Naha and mainland Japan. There is also good access to the surrounding islands, and you can use Ishigaki Island as a base to explore other beautiful islands.

In this article, we will introduce in detail how to enjoy Ishigaki Island. We cover sights, activities, dining, access information, and other useful information for your visit to Ishigaki Island. When planning your trip to Okinawa, be sure to visit Ishigaki Island and enjoy its natural beauty and rich experiences.

History and Culture of Tourist Attraction

Ishigaki Island has a rich history and culture along with its beautiful natural environment. This section details the historical background and cultural features of Ishigaki Island.

Historical Background

The history of Ishigaki Island dates back to the Jomon Period, approximately 4,000 years ago. In the 14th century, it became a part of the Ryukyu Kingdom and flourished as an important trading center. During this period, Ishigaki Island prospered through trade with China and Southeast Asia, and its influence can be seen in the current culture and customs.

Ishigaki Island has historical buildings such as “Ishigaki Castle” and “Miyara-dennai” built in the 16th century, where you can feel the prosperity and cultural richness of those days. Ishigaki Island also played an important role as a political and religious center during the Ryukyu Kingdom period.

Cultural Characteristics

The culture of Ishigaki Island has its own unique characteristics that are different from those of the main island of Okinawa. In particular, local festivals and traditional events are a valuable experience for visitors. For example, the “Ishigaki Island Festival” is held every November and includes local music, dance, and a traditional parade. This festival is an event that brings the entire island together and is very popular among tourists.

On Ishigaki Island, a traditional musical instrument called “sanshin” is widely loved. The sound of the sanshin symbolizes the unique musical culture of Okinawa, and can be heard everywhere on the island. Folk songs and dances enjoyed with sanshin performances are recommended as part of a deeper understanding of Ishigaki Island culture.

Ishigaki Island’s food culture is also unique. Dishes using Ishigaki beef and island vegetables are a part of daily life for the locals and are highly appreciated by tourists. Ishigaki beef, in particular, is characterized by its tenderness and flavor, and can be enjoyed as grilled meat or steak.

Ishigaki Island is a place with its rich history and culture. Visitors can enjoy a profound cultural experience while experiencing the unique blend of the island’s past and present. Visit Ishigaki Island and fully experience its history and culture.

Places to visit

Ishigaki Island is an attractive tourist destination with rich nature and a variety of activities. Here we will introduce the recommended time to visit, main attractions, and points to note at the sightseeing spots.

Suggested time of year to visit

The best times to visit Ishigaki Island are spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). These seasons have mild weather and are the best time to enjoy sightseeing and activities. Spring in particular offers beautiful scenery with cherry blossoms in full bloom. Summer (June to August) is the best season to enjoy ocean activities, but the climate is hot and humid, so adequate heat protection is necessary.

Major tourist attractions and popular spots

Ishigaki Island has many attractive tourist spots.

  • Kabira Bay: It is a beautiful bay with emerald green sea and is selected as one of the 100 scenic spots in Japan. We recommend taking a glass boat to observe the underwater coral reefs and tropical fish.
  • Tamatorizaki Observatory: Located in the northeastern part of Ishigaki Island, it is the best view point from which you can see the whole island. On a clear day, you can see all the islands in the distance and it is popular as a great photo spot.
  • Ishigaki Yamaimura: A theme park that recreates traditional Okinawan houses and gardens where you can learn about local culture and history. Visitors can also enjoy various hands-on programs such as Ryukyuan dance and sanshin performances.
  • Shiraho Coral Reef: One of the largest blue coral reefs in the world is located in this area, and visitors can enjoy the beautiful underwater world through snorkeling and diving. The diversity of marine life is also abundant and the natural beauty of the area is impressive.
  • Yonehara Beach: With its crystal clear waters and white sand, this beach is a great place to enjoy snorkeling and barbecues. It is also a great place for families and picnics with friends.

Points to note at tourist attractions

When visiting Ishigaki Island, you should keep in mind a few things to keep in mind.

  • Protect the natural environment: The nature of Ishigaki Island is very precious. When visiting, please help protect the environment by using good manners and taking your trash with you.
  • UV Protection: UV rays are very strong on Ishigaki Island, so be sure to wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Transportation: Renting a car is the best way to get around Ishigaki Island. Public transportation is limited, so it is recommended to reserve a rental car in advance.

Ishigaki Island is a fascinating tourist destination that combines beautiful nature and rich culture. When you visit, be sure to keep these highlights in mind and be prepared to enjoy them comfortably. We hope you will fully enjoy your wonderful experience in Ishigaki Island.

Access

Access to Ishigaki Island is very convenient from both domestic and international destinations. You can visit the island smoothly using major transportation methods. Here, we will introduce in detail how to access Ishigaki Island.

Access by Airplane

The main means of access to Ishigaki Island is by plane. Ishigaki Island is served by Shin-Ishigaki Airport (Nannujima Ishigaki Airport), and flights arrive and depart from Japan and abroad.

Access from within Japan.

  • There are direct flights from Tokyo (Haneda and Narita Airports). The journey time is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.
  • There are also direct flights from Osaka (Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport)**, which take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • There are also direct flights from Fukuoka Airport and Naha Airport, and the travel time from Naha is approximately 1 hour.

International Access

  • Direct flights are available from Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport). The travel time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Other international flights can be accessed via Naha Airport.

Access by ferry

As the center of the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki Island has frequent ferry services to other remote islands. From Ishigaki Port Terminal, you can easily access to the surrounding islands such as Taketomi Island, Kuroshima Island, and Iriomote Island.

Main ferry routes.

  • Taketomi Island: Approx. 10 minutes
  • Iriomote Island: Approx. 40 min.
  • Kuroshima Island: Approx. 30 min.

Ferry schedules and fares vary depending on the season and weather, so it is recommended to check in advance.

Getting Around Ishigaki Island

Car rentals, buses, and cabs are available for getting around Ishigaki Island.

Car Rental.

  • Renting a car is the best way to get around the island freely. There are many car rental companies near Shin-Ishigaki Airport and Ishigaki Port. It is recommended to make reservations in advance.

Bus.

  • There are buses operating on Ishigaki Island. It is easy to use as it connects major sightseeing spots and accommodations. It is convenient to check the bus schedule and route map in advance.

Taxi.

  • Cabs are readily available at airports, ports, and major tourist attractions. They are convenient for short distances or during times when public transportation is not available.

Gourmet

Ishigaki Island attracts visitors not only by its beautiful nature but also by its delicious food. There are many restaurants where you can enjoy dishes made with fresh local ingredients and traditional Okinawan cuisine. Here, we will introduce some of the recommended meals and restaurants in Ishigaki Island.

Gourmet

Ishigaki Island is known as a place where you can enjoy delicious food made with fresh local ingredients along with beautiful nature. Here we introduce some recommended meals and restaurants in Ishigaki Island.

Snow Salt Steak Ishigaki – Teppanyaki

Snow Salt Steak Ishigaki is a Teppanyaki restaurant using Ishigaki beef, a local specialty. Especially, the steak with snow salt is an excellent dish that enhances the flavor of Ishigaki beef. You can enjoy the steak cooked in front of your eyes, providing a special dining experience.

Address: 14-12 Misaki-cho, Ishigaki City, Okinawa, Japan

Original Ishigaki Beef Cutlet

As the name suggests, Ganso Ishigaki Beef Cutlet is proud of its cutlet made from Ishigaki beef. The crispy batter and juicy Ishigaki beef are a perfect match, and you will be impressed by its deliciousness after taking a bite. It is a luxurious dish that you can only taste in Ishigaki Island.

Address: 2-7 Okawa, Ishigaki City, Okinawa

Teppen

Teppen is an izakaya where you can enjoy creative cuisine using fresh ingredients from Ishigaki Island. Especially, sashimi using local seafood and arranged menu of Okinawan cuisine are popular. You can spend a pleasant time with delicious dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.

Address: 10-19 Misaki-cho, Ishigaki City, Okinawa

JA Ishigaki Beef Specialty Restaurant Teppan! Lucky

JA Ishigaki Beef Specialty Store Teppan! As a specialty restaurant of Ishigaki beef, Tetsuroku offers the best quality Ishigaki beef. The Ishigaki beef is tender and juicy to enjoy in Teppan-yaki style, and once you try it, you will never forget the taste. Especially, the special Ishigaki beef course meal is perfect for a luxurious dinner.

Address: 7-24 Misaki-cho, Ishigaki City, Okinawa

Shopping

Ishigaki Island is a fascinating tourist destination that combines beautiful nature and rich culture with shopping. There are many great spots to purchase local specialties and souvenirs. Here we introduce some of the best shopping spots and specialties in Ishigaki Island.

Ishigaki Beef Steak Flavor Crackers

Ishigaki Beef Steak Flavor Crackers are snacks that you can enjoy the flavor of Ishigaki Beef, a specialty of Ishigaki Island. It is characterized by its crispy texture and rich flavor of Ishigaki beef and is very popular as a souvenir.

Place to buy

  • Public Market
  • Ishigaki Airport Terminal Shop

Island Garlic Shrimp Crackers

Island Togarashi Shrimp Senbei is a spicy rice cracker made of Island Togarashi and shrimp produced in Ishigaki Island. The perfect balance of spiciness and shrimp flavor makes it a perfect snack with beer.

Place to buy

  • Nanujima Shopping Street
  • Ishigaki Airport Terminal Shop

Beni imo tart made from 100% beni imo produced in Ishigaki Island

The Beni Imo Tart made from 100% red sweet potato produced in Ishigaki Island is a sweet treat unique to Ishigaki Island. It is characterized by the natural sweetness and moist texture of the red sweet potato, and is perfect as a teacake or dessert.

Place to buy

  • Ishigaki Airport Terminal Shop

Beni Imo Kit Kat

Beni Imo Kit Kat is a special Kit Kat only available in Okinawa with the flavor of beni imo (red sweet potato) added to the chocolate. It comes in small packages, making it a perfect souvenir for family and friends.

Place to buy

  • Ishigaki Airport Terminal Shop
  • Public Market

Okinawa Mango Jelly

Okinawa Mango Jelly is a dessert made with plenty of fresh Okinawan mangoes. With its tropical flavor and smooth texture, it is a refreshing sweet perfect for hot summer days.

Purchasing Spots

  • Public Market
  • Nannu Island Shopping Street

Summary

Ishigaki Island is a beautiful island located in Okinawa Prefecture that attracts visitors with its rich nature and diverse activities. The diverse natural environment includes emerald green ocean, white sand beaches, and tropical forests. Spring and autumn are especially ideal for sightseeing due to the mild climate. You can visit beautiful spots such as Kabira Bay, Tamatorizaki Observatory, and Shiraho Coral Reef.

Ishigaki Island has its own history and culture. There are many opportunities to experience local culture such as traditions from the Ryukyu Kingdom period, Ishigaki Island Festival, and Sanshin (Okinawan guitar) performances. There are also many restaurants where you can enjoy dishes using traditional ingredients and fresh seafood. Ishigaki beef and Okinawan soba noodles are especially a must.

Access is also convenient, with direct flights from Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Naha, etc., using the New Ishigaki Airport, making it easy to visit. Also, from Ishigaki Port, you can take a ferry to the surrounding islands.

Shopping in Ishigaki Island is also not to be missed. You can purchase local specialties and souvenirs at the public market, Nannu Island Shopping Street, and Ishigaki Airport Terminal Shop. Especially recommended are Ishigaki beef steak flavored rice crackers, island Togarashi shrimp crackers, Beniimo tart, Beniimo Kit Kat, and Okinawa mango jelly.

Ishigaki Island is an attractive tourist destination with beautiful nature, rich history and culture, delicious food, and ample shopping. Please visit and fully enjoy its diverse attractions. The wonderful experiences you will have in Ishigaki Island will make your trip even more special.