Ishigaki Island is a hub island to visit Yaeyama islands. 8 islands comprise Yaeyama Islands including, Ishigaki, Taketomi (10 mins by Ferry), Kohama (25 mins), Kuroshima (25 mins), Iriomote (40mins), Hateruma (1 hour) and Yonaguni (4.5 hours or 30 mins by air). With its convenient location, one night stay on Ishigaki Island is becoming more of a common for travelers. To help you plan your visit, here’s quick guide to visit Ishigaki Island.
Where to eat & shop
The pottery at Izumiya Inn, Taketomi Island was so lovely, and I heard I could buy them at Gokouya. Unfortunately, Gokouya was renovating its shop when I visited and I was disappointed. However, I found the pottery of Gokouya at Yachimunkan on Ishigaki Island. I bought two rice bowls and needle bowls. At the same time, I was looking for glasses for summer drinks, I found blue glasses similar to Taketomi Island’s blue sea. Each shop has collected various kinds of pottery and glasses according to their own taste. It was enjoyable to see around and choose my favorite dishes.
One of my friends who shared the room at Izumiya Inn recommended to eat Ishigaki beef at Papyon. When I visited JA Farmers’s Market Yaeyama Yurateiku, I dropped by the restaurant. The Ishigaki Island beef tasted very tender and juicy. The service of Papyon was so professional. I heard that the restaurant became much more popular after one Japanese TV program reported on it. Reservation is recommended.
My friend also recommended Sayoko’s Santaardagie on Ishigaki Island. Santaardagie is a traditional donut in Okinawa. I bought two, but I could not resist to buy one more. I confessed I could not stop eating to the owner, and she tried to comfort me by saying she ate 6 usually in a blink of the eye. While staying at the shop, continuously local people and tourists came and bought Santaardagie. In the shop, a thanks letter from the local Elementary School students was on the wall.
I did not have a chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables on Taketomi Island, so I visited Ishigaki City Public Market in Euglena Mall. The size of the market is small, so you can take a look in less than 30 mins. You can buy fresh meats and fish there.
I also went to JA Farmers’s Market Yaeyama Yurateiku, 10 mins away from the Ishigaki City Market by walk. At the market, various kinds of fruits and vegetables were available. I bought Passion fruits and Star fruits. The Star fruits were sour, so I marinated them with honey at home. I could enjoy Passion fruits with soda for about a week after my trip to Taketomi Island. Black rice was very reasonable too. You can cook it with white rice and it will turn a black purple color. I ate it at Izumiya Inn and enjoyed it very much.
How to visit Ishigaki Island
I took a direct flight to Ishigaki Island from Tokyo, however there are several choices to visit Taketomi Island. The popular way is to transit from Naha airport to Ishigaki Island from other areas. One of the guests of Izumiya Inn flighted back to Naha from Ishigaki Island to Tokyo. She said she was going to visit pottery artists near Naha City the capital of Okinawa Prefecture.
Yaeyama Islands – An Introduction
The public bus from Ishigaki Airport to Ritou Tarminal takes 20 to 30 minis. At Ritou Tarminal, you can find various tours to visit other Islands. I didn’t have a chance to visit all eight islands, but Taketomi local people recommended to visit all of them. One guest at Izumiya Inn on Taketomi Island said she decided to work at Kohama Island’s resort hotel after she visited there and toured around by motorcycle. She strongly recommended to rent a motorcycle not a bicycle due to the large number of steep slopes on Kohama Island.
One Ishigaki Island local said Taketomi Island’s blue sea was the most beautiful in his life, but a Taketomi Island local believes Kuroshima Island’s blue sea is more beautiful than Taketomi Island. Next time, I really want to visit Kuroshima. Yonaguni Island is in the west part of Japan and is 111 km away from Taiwan. I heard you can see Taipei from Yonaguni Island. I understand that many people have been coming and going from Japan to Taipei using the Kuroshio Current from ancient times.
Open hours: 10:00-19:00
Open hours: 11:30-14:30/17:00-22:00
JA’s Farmers Market Yaeyama Yurateiku
Open hours: 9:00-19:00
Each shop is located a 10 min walk from Ishigaki City Public Market. 2 hours is enough to see around. I visited this area to buy souvenirs for 2 hours including lunch, before my departure to Tokyo.