Tsushima and Iki islands are sometimes combined to visit as a destination, but each has a background and history that is slightly different. The climate and natural surroundings are totally different. I wanted to see how Iki Island developed its culture and history while flourishing as a trading hub between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
I stayed here for four days and although I had come to Iki Island to know the origin of Japanese history, I could not neglect the beauty of nature, which adds to the charm of this historical place. With hills and forests to roam around, it’s one of the best islands for those who love to spend their vacation exploring the great outdoors. While there are many tremendous hikes throughout the Iki Island, these are my top picks for glorious scenery.
Tatsunoshima is located 2km from the northwest tip of Iki Island. I took a 40-minute pleasure boat tour from Katsumoto Port to Tatsunoshima Island and saw Sea Palace, Mammoth Cliff and Jagatani Cliff on the way. This tour operates from March to November.Jagatani Cliff is Katsumoto Layer in which vertical joints have been eroded by the waves. The height is about 50 meters and the boat approaches very near the cliff, when the weather permits.When I landed on Tatsunoshima, I was the only person there. I made sure when the boat would come back to pick me up and headed to the beach for 10 mins.The beach has white sand and blue sky and I could spend more than one hour by myself, but the main attraction of Tatsunoshima Island is to witness how geological stratum forms in the Iki area.The caretaker of the small island just finished his work and kindly took me to see around. He told me the northern Iki has horizontal stratum and the southern Iki has vertical stratum. As he explained, I could see beautifully horizontal layers which he likes most on Tatsunoshima.The area is eroded by wind and waves naturally and there is no gate so I could easily go to the edge. I understood why the caretaker worried about some visitors approaching too close to the edge in order to take photos. On rainy days, it would be so dangerous to walk around at this slippery site.
Komakizaki Park is the hidden highlight of Iki Island for me and it’s just a 30-minute drive away from Katsumoto Port. I prefer to visit Komakizaki Park to enjoy the sea at the fringe of the island rather than Makizaki Park where a famous Goblin’s footprint is located. It’s much smaller than Makizaki Park, but you can walk closer to the sea along the well–maintained path.
Spend some time to see Iki’s countryside as it will give you some idea of what the island looks like. The path from the parking area to the edge of Komakizaki Park was about 1 km and you can enjoy a green grass hill and blue sky and sea. When you are tired of driving and cycling, it is nice to walk in a calm and relaxing park.When I visited Iki Island, my car navigation could not guide me to Kamakizaki Park, so please follow this URL on the maps app.
Saruiwa Rock, a 45 m high basalt rock located in the west of Iki Island, is a popular signature spot due to its unique shape. Its appears like a look-away monkey and can be found at the tip of the Kurosaki Peninsula.I didn’t expect much on this tourist spot, but it was “breathtaking scenery” with the huge monkey–like rock with beautiful vertical joints.
For a stunning view over the Saruiwa Rock, my recommendation is to walk the path from the parking area to the edge for 10 mins. From there, you can take a postcard type photo of this astonishing and huge natural monument.
Ruins of Kurosaki Fort
The ruins of Kurosaki Fort, located at the same site as Saruiwa Rock, is now a war memorial and was constructed from 1928 to 1931 but was never used during the war. You can see a huge hole and understand the engineering technology in those days over 70 years ago. It is a small reminder of what happened on this tranquil island.
Makizaki Park is popular for a big imprint look like a goblin’s footprint. On a grassy field, the collapse of the edge of a sea cave caused the erosion of a footprint-shaped hole. It’s is a huge hole which measures 110 meters around and 30 meters deep. There was a tale that a goblin stood firm on his feet here to get a whale from the sea. The other footprint is said to be on Tatsunoshima Island.
Takenotsuji is Iki’s highest point at 212.8 m and I visited there to enjoy the view of Iki Island and to see the mainland and Tsushima Island. The whole landscape is completely cleared and filled with forests and rice fields.One of beacon towers used to be located here to light a signal fire as part of a line consructed from Tsushima to the mainland. The hill is covered with dense forest showing the richness of the soil.
Tsutsukihama Swimming Beach
Tsutsukihama Beach is a 600m long white sandy beach located near Iki airport. This beach is one of the most popular beaches on Iki Island, however you can encounter nice, almost private, beaches around every corner. My favorite beach was Nishiki Beach near the Pension Souvenir where I stayed. Plenty of water sports are available on Iki Island.
Iki Foundation Stone
When I visited Katsumoto Port to see Amanogahara Beach, where the Mongolian army landed in the 13th century, I visited Iki foundation stone as well. I call it a stone, but its stratum towers in front of you. Iki foundation stone is part of Katsumoto Layer deposited 25 millions years ago on the bottom of the sea. I live in Tokyo on the Kanto Plain with no huge hills or mountains, so I was lost for words in front of this natural formation.
At Uromi Beach where the Mongolian army landed, you can see Yukinoshima Rock. The Yukinoshima had been introduced already as a scenic spot in the later part of the Edo era (18th century).
Mongolian army landed at Amanogahara Beach
This is one of the most difficult places to visit. I just followed my tour guide and walked through the bush and found this stunning landscape. It’s popular to see the beautiful sunset from here but I didn’t have much courage to find it by myself.