Iki Island in Nagasaki Prefecture is featured as one of the first born 8 islands in Kojiki, the oldest chronicle composed in the early 8th century. It is located in western Japan and is filled to the brim with beautiful views, kind-hearted locals and delicious & affordable foods to try. It’s got that small island charm but it never really feels overly touristy or crowded.
After traveling in Tsushima Island, I visited Iki Island to experience and explore the neighboring surrounds there.
The Tsushima current distributes one of Japan’s biggest and warmest currents and this has the effect of a warm climate with moisture all year around. Iki Island is known to have a widespread range of underwater sinkholes which retain water. There are many drinkable wells on the island and Tokiwai well near Gonoura Port is the easiest one to visit from town.Nagasaki Prefecture consists of several islands and has less plains than other prefectures, and Iki Island has the second largest plain which produces rice, melons, asparagus and strawberries.
When I visited there in June, fresh melons had just harvested from fields and were available at market. I met locals there and they were energetic and the market was full of rich vegetables and fruits. People fish at Genkainada sea, and catch turban shells, abalone and sea urchins. You can also buy fresh seafood at the market.
Culture and History
Iki has thousands of shrines with a sense of awe to nature and also evident is its culinary culture. Exploring Iki Island is to step back into another era and experience a unique interaction of cultures and nature.The many historical sites in the region are what make Iki Island so magical. Sometimes, I found the name of a historical site on a map and I tried to find it by entering the small bushy area covered with tall bamboos or native trees, but I could never find it. The historical sites were named several hundreds of years ago and became unexplored sites throughout the ages.It’s got that small town flavor with a population of 28,000 and you can also enjoy convenient life near Ashibe Port or Gonoura Port. You will notice a huge pink signboard of a famous shopping mall or a yellow signboard promoting a drug store.
It is easily accessible from Hakata Port in Fukuoka Prefecture and it takes 65 mins after boarding from Hakata Bayside Place in Fukuoka, by the high speed jetfoil. It is a popular tourist destination for Kyushu (western Japan) residents and beyond.
There is no direct flight to Iki Airport except via Nagasaki Airport which takes 30 mins. You can transit from Haneda Airport in Tokyo at Nagasaki Airport to Iki Airport. I took a high speed jetfoil for 65 mins from Izuhara Port on Tsushima Island to Ashibe Port on Iki Island.
How to Travel
Iki Island is 17 km long and 15 km wide. It is a round shape and a flat island located in the Genkainada Sea. It is covered with plains and hills and the highest peak is the 222-meter Takenotsuji.
Iki is full of charms and attractive activities and the sites are spread throughout the island, so an excellent way of seeing around is by renting-a-car. If you want to exercise more, rent a bicycle at any stands near the ports and spend the day seeing the main shrines, tumulus and signature spots. Iki Island has a cycling festival every June and it is quite nice to cycle on Iki Island to enjoy the nice weather.
When to visit
Best time to visit: March to October for dolphin watching, June-August for heavenly outdoor sports.
How long to stay
A one-night stay would be the most popular way to visit Iki Island, but extending your trip a day or two means you’ll get to see shrines and parks that are more off the beaten track, like Kojima Shrine and Komakizaki Park and then you’ll have plenty of time to relax at Yunomoto hot spring.