Ishigaki Island, Okinawa: 1 Hour From Taiwan, a Course for Experiencing the Best of Japan and a Tropical Resort
The Yaeyama Islands are located at the most southwestern tip of Japan. One of the islands, Ishigaki, is a beautiful island floating on the sea about 430 kilometers southwest of Naha. It boasts the third largest area within Okinawa prefecture, behind the main island and Iriomote Island. New Ishigaki Airport, which opened in 2013, has a long runway and large terminal building. The airport directly connects the island and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in 3.5 hours, and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in just over 1 hour.
The best part of Ishigaki Island has to be the magnificent subtropical ocean surrounding it. Kabira Bay is especially famous for its transparency, and achieved a three-star rating by the “Michelin Green Guide Japan” in 2009. Underneath the emerald blue surface extends a coral reef where countless tropical fish and rare sea creatures live. Visitors can fully enjoy its beauty by casually riding a glass boat or sea kayak. The sea turns a brilliant gold color as the sunset reflects in the water at dusk.
Ishigaki Island has prospered as an important point for marine traffic since long ago. Since ancient times, ships, people, and cultures have come and gone from the south. During the middle ages however, it fell under the rule of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and like the other islands of Okinawa, became subject to the collection of taxes by the Satsuma Domain in the Edo period. The island has strongly and gracefully overcome a rough history, such that cannot easily be imagined from its beautiful natural scenery and year-round warm weather.
If you visit Ishigaki Island, we highly recommend trying out Ishigaki Beef. There are various types of branded cattle around Japan, but Ishigaki Beef is special even among those. This is because calves of Ishigaki Beef cattle are purchased by cattle farmers from other regions outside of the prefecture, and raised to become branded cattle of those areas. It is not too much to say that the large and powerful cows of Ishigaki support the Japanese cuisine of Wagyu itself.
Beef of cattle raised under plenty of sunshine in their hometown of Ishigaki just has to be delicious. The beef has a strong sweet and refreshing taste, and has a delicious impact that you won’t be able to forget. And thankfully, visitors to the island will be able to enjoy the fresh local beef at a more reasonable price than in other regions. Ishigaki beef can be enjoyed in various forms such as the standard teppanyaki or steak, as well as yakiniku and horumonyaki (grilled offal). If you add some awamori, a popular alcoholic beverage made locally, to your meal, you might just want to stay and live on Ishigaki Island.