WELCOME TO ISHIGAKI, JAPAN
Ishigaki is a tropical Japanese island and the gateway to the other islands of the Yaeyama archipelago.
Around 50.000 inhabitants live in Ishigaki, the majority of them live and work in Ishigaki city. Most of the accommodations and facilities in the Yaeyama archipelago are in Ishigaki city, which makes the island a convenient and lively place to stay.
Ishigaki’s countryside has less facilities, but instead breathtaking and often ‘hidden’ beaches, the famous Ishigaki gyu (cattle), colourful coral, sugarcane fields, pineapples, jungle, mangroves….and a national monument; the Yaeyama Palmtree Grove.
HOW TO GO AROUND ISHIGAKI
Explore the island with a rental a car, or maybe a motorcycle or scooter. The bus is ok, but service is only a few times a day in the countryside and you may not reach the best places. Arrange an International Driving Permit in your country before travelling to Japan.
If you still plan to use public transport, read our page about public transport on the Yaeyama islands.
Try to rent a bicycle to explore Ishigaki town for that typical local atmosphere.
WHERE TO GO IN ISHIGAKI
Kabira Bay on the north coast of Ishigaki is the most famous view point on the island. A visit to watch the calm emerald water in this bay is one of the holiday highlights of many travellers.
It’s prohibited to swim here due to several reasons, but glass bottom boats show you Kabira’s underwater world without the need to jump in the water yourself.
Kabira is also famous for it’s black pearl cultivation. The shop not far from the entrance to the bay sells these magnificent pearls and they display how these pearls are cultivated. Kabira village has several restaurants and souvenir shops.
Ishigaki is good for hiking. Read about the best hiking trails in Ishigaki. Several mountain paths lead to stunning viewpoints. One of these mountains is Mount Nosoko Māpē in the north of Ishigaki. Māpē is 282 meters high, the full hike takes about 45 minutes. There is also a shortcut which takes only 15 minutes. Be careful if it rained, it can get slippery on your way up. In the video we show you the legend behind this mysterious mountain and one the best views on the island.
For a picnic, hike, run or playing around with your kids, we recommend Banna Park. Located in the southeast of Ishigaki, not far from the city, this large park stretches out over a wide area with trails, bridges and roads connecting each other. Many species of tropical plants, butterflies and birds can be spotted here.
Stroll around in Ishigaki city with it’s shopping arcades and small streets.
Shiraho Sunday market is located in the former WWF (Japan Coral Reef Conservation Center). Every Sunday a selection of shops and creatives sell their fresh vegetables, home made local recipes and craft. Sometimes accompanied by live music or workshops.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
The island bursts of festivals and events. Many traditional events take place in July & August.
Every year in November or December the Yakimono (pottery) Festival with local ceramic artists takes place inside the city hall, which is designed by the famous architect Kengo Kuma.
Japan is the place for pottery and also in the Yaeyama islands many potters create beautiful handcrafted pottery. During the festival, potters from all around the Yaeyama islands sell their pottery.
The local government is promoting Ishigaki as sports island. And that’s not without a reason. As well as the good but challenging climate as it’s natural surroundings and facilities make this island a perfect environment for sports enthusiasts.
Ishigaki is quite large and hilly, which makes this island a real challenge. If you plan on cycling yourself, and not only in the city area, we recommend you to rent a road bike if you’re used to it.
Renting a bike is definitely a fun and challenging way to explore the island. You could go round the island in one day or on a more relaxed pace, in two or three days combined with sightseeing. More about cycling on the Yaeyama islands.
Independent (eco) guides are offering tours such as manta ray diving, snorkelling, kayaking or hiking to one of the waterfalls or viewpoints.