When I visited Iki Island, I met friendly locals who were more than happy to show off their favorite places. They were proud of Iki and shared the places they liked most with their stories of the island, so I could witness a way of life that may have existed since history began on Iki Island. Here is a list of the recommended best places according to Iki Island locals.
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. The boat tour is available 6 times a day from March to November.During the tour, the captain of the boat pointed at the red rock table covered with emerald green sea water and explained that this was his most favorite place. Almost everyday, he came here and saw the same scenery, however he could sense the universal beauty of nature here. The weather was perfect and he showed us the beautiful blue sea with the red rock spread underneath. It was a very impressive experience for me.
When I landed on Tatsunoshima Island, I was the only person there. A caretaker had cleaned up a beach house in preparation to open the beach. The caretaker tried to explain the route to see around by using a map, but he changed his mind and guided me around the island in his spare time.The main attraction of Tatsunoshima Island is to witness how geological stratum have been formed in the Iki area. The goblin’s footprint and snake valley of Tatsunoshima Island are famous, but the caretaker said he liked the cliff with Katsumoto Layer with red stone. We went to the edge of the cliff and saw the red stone together. On the way, he told me how he took care of his family and raised his son as a fisherman. He also explained how current climate changes are affecting the circumstances of Iki Island.
Tatsunoshima Island was full of charm at every turn and it was a great way to spend an hour or so soaking up natural beauty. The area is eroded by wind and waves naturally and there is no gate so I could easily go to the edge. The caretaker really worried that some visitors approached the edge too close for taking photos. On rainy days, it would be dangerous to see around due to the slippery site. So keep away from the edge!
Katsumoto Port prospered from whaling and had one of the richest families at that time living here. We could see the glory of those former days still now. One example is Shomogu Temple which was built in the early Nara era in the 8th century. The main building was rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by the whaling family. The main gate was constructed in the 16th century and the wood grain appeared to tell the long history of being exposed to the sea breeze.I joined a tour to visit historical sites and our knowledgeable guide said he loved the ox stone statue at Shomogu Temple. He had researched Iki’s history and found who made it and how they had carried the ox stone statue to the temple. The ox stone statue itself is quite cute and I could see how the face’s expression revealed the character of the sculptor.
It has no name, but is a beautiful lookout. When I was preparing for a walk from Akarui Noson Inn, the landlady recommended to walk to higher ground to see the Tsushima Nada Sea. I followed her advice and met a local lady who had lived on Iki Island for nearly 80 years. She explained that every day she came here to see the comings and goings of ships. It should be just everyday life, but she looked like she was very much enjoying it.The site itself is just vacant land from which to view the Tsushima Nada Sea. What differentiates Iki Island from other tourist spots is the fullness of picturesque areas and the passion of the locals who love to enjoy the island’s life.
Souroku Tumulus is one of the biggest tumuli on Iki Island. The wide view of the site and the size of the tumulus is unforgettable. The owner of Souvenir Inn also said Souroku Tumulus is one of her favorite places to visit. Currently, it is forbidden to climb up to the top of the Tumulus, but the surrounding space is huge and you can enjoy the bright blue sky here.
Irukabana means shaped like the nose of a dolphin, and it is a port in the southern Iki Island. It is en route from the 382 Prefectural line, so I didn’t have a chance to visit there. However, the owner of the Souvenir Inn strongly recommended to go there next time.
Head to Ashibe Port from Fukuoka or Tsushima Island and drive to Katsumoto Port to take a tour boat to Tatsunoshima Island while enjoying the blue sea. See the rock layers and stay at the beach until you are satisfied. Return to Katsumoto Port and walk around the neighborhood, visiting Shomogou Temple to see the Ox statue. Stay at Akarui Noson Inn and take a walk to the hill to enjoy the sunset. Next day, visit Souroku Tumulus and drive to Irukabana Port and then back to Ashibe Port.