WELCOME TO ISHIGAKI, JAPAN
Ishigaki is a tropical treasure 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 Forest.
These lush green Yaeyama palmtrees are only growing in Ishigaki and Iriomote island.
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.
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.
Although a bit hidden, a place to try if you’re in need of bread and cake, Pina Colada bakery. Try the donuts. There is a chance you’ve never tasted better before (closed Monday-Tuesday).
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 Mape in the north of Ishigaki. Mape 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.
We show you a selection of markets, our site will be updated with events, dates and locations.
Sanbashi market is one of those kawaii markets selling handmade products, food & drinks which will give you a fun insight in local Yaeyama. This market is located in the ferry port area (ocean side).
Some of the markets are only organised once, some grow to become a bigger market, some stay small and cosy. One of these small markets is ‘Nuchi gusui’ Market. Nuchi gusui means ‘life’s medicine’ and is a saying which is often used here.
Shiraho Sunday market is located in the 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 takes place.
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 to (sometimes) cheaper prices than usual. Many locals go here.
In the city hall, event space (free entrance).
On the other side of the building, local creatives sell their handmade goods at a small handcraft market on the same dates.
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 lovers. One of those events is Great Earth, which is organised every year in October.
No competition, every age, everybody smiling and enjoying Ishigaki’s stunning nature
Ishigaki is quite big and hilly, which is really good for cycling. 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 guides are offering tours such as manta ray diving (90% chance to see manta!), snorkelling, kayaking or hiking to one of the waterfalls or viewpoints. Make your trip unforgettable by planning a tour.
Ishigaki is a tropical treasure, with a lot to offer. It touches your heart.