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Ishigaki is an island west of Okinawa Honto and the second-largest island of the Yaeyama Island group. It is within the City of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture. The city functions as the business and transport center of the archipelago. There are a limited of must-see attractions, however Ishigaki's beaches are among the most spectacular in Japan. Star Cruises operates luxury cruises from Keelung (near Taipei) between late April and the end of October.
 
Kabira Bay, located at the northwest corner of the island is a stunning emerald blue bay with a perfect yellow-white beach, dotted by craggy islands. There is no swimming allowed, so the closest you can get is a glass-bottom boat tour. The view of the bay from nearby Kabira Park is spectacular.
 
Sukuji beach is 2km west of Kabira and boasts one kilometer of white sand beach, equipped with changing rooms, showers, toilets and other essentials. The view from the beach is stunning and on a clear day Uganzaki lighthouse is visible in the distance.
 
Yonehara offers nice sand and better coral reefs within easy snorkeling distance. The reef begins within meters of the beach and hosts enough life to interest experienced snorkelers and beginners alike.
 
The balmy, subtropical climate draws countless visitors to its sandy shores, but Ishigaki offers much more than your typical island getaway. It is the cultural, political and economic center of the Yaeyama Islands, originally founded in 1908 as Yaeyama Village and becoming Ishigaki Town in 1926. Ishigaki was elevated to city status on July 10, 1947. A hilltop Shinto shrine which dates back to 1614 is the perfect place to start your exploration of this lovely town. Noted for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters to which snorkelers flock for a glimpse of the island's famed manta rays, Ishigaki Island offers many opportunities to commune with nature. Ishigaki has palm forests, mangrove-lined rivers suited for kayaking, and jungle-covered mountains perfect for hiking adventures. Amidst such natural beauty, you'll find an abundance of cultural sites with ties to the island's rich history. The Yaeyama Museum displays historic artifacts as well as traditional cultural items, and a visit to the well-preserved Miyara Dunchi, built in 1819, is a rare example of a samurai-style residence. Be sure to leave time in your busy day to sample some of the sweet island pineapple and to shop for the island's famed black pearls, a most special souvenir.
 
Where You are Dock
 The port of Ishigaki is located at the center of the city near the bus terminal. There are two parts: the central Rito-sanbashi for services to nearby islands, and a second unnamed pier at the southeast corner of the port for long-distance services to Yonaguni and slow boats to Hateruma.
 
Attractions
 
Kabira Bay - glass bottomed boat tour
The beautiful, turquoise waters of Kabira Bay are one of only two cultivation sites of black pearls in Japan. A glass-bottom boat showcases the bay's colorful underwater world and coral reefs.
 Ishigaki Island is most famous for its Kabira Bay, a stunning bay of emerald green waters.which you can explore on a glass boat. But behold, you are not allowed to swim, because the water is full of poisonous snakes. Among numerous more great spots is the northern most tip of the island.
 
Tojin Tomb (Chinese Tomb)
Honoring the memory of Chinese laborers killed during a sea mutiny in the mid-1800s, this ornately decorated monument raises awareness of this tragic occurrence, centered off the coast of Ishigaki.
 
Taketomi Island
Board a ferryboat to this petite island, the site of a perfectly preserved Ryukyu village where traditional red-roofed architecture, local crafts and transportation by water buffalo cart are a way of life.
 
Iriomote Island
Okinawa's second largest island's dense vegetation, lush mangrove forests and Iriomote National Park welcome outdoor enthusiasts to kayaking, hiking and beach adventures.
 
Tamatorizaki Observatory
Take in panoramic views of the ocean and colorful reefs, Cape Tamatori, Ibaruma Bay and the majestic hills of Ishigaki's northern peninsula from the observation deck of this popular photo spot.
 
Get around
By bus
Azuma Bus operates services throughout the island radiating from the bus terminal on Sanbashi-dori, just across the street from the port. The most useful services connect to the airport (¥540) and Kabira (¥700).
Two multi-day passes are available for frequent bus users: a 5-day pass ("Michikusa Free Pass"; whereby "free" in Japanese means "can be used freely" and not "free of charge") for ¥2000 and a 1-day pass for ¥1000. Both passes can be used on all scheduled buses.
Note that while bus service from the city center to the airport and along the southeast coast of the island (as far as Shiraho), is regular and quite frequent (it starts at 6:30am, and then there is a bus leaving every 15 minutes between 7am and 9pm), service on the other lines is not really geared toward tourists, and if you are staying outside the urban part of Ishigaki you may want to rent a scooter or car for the duration of your stay. With careful planning, however, the bus will get you around the whole of the island and let you visit Kabira Bay or the famous snorkeling area at Yonehara Beach for a few hours' stay. At the bus terminal you can get a detailed bus schedule in English that covers all bus lines except the recently established loop line in the downtown area (staff at your hotel or guest house should be able to tell you whic hstops to use and at what time). The downtown loop line has been in service since October, 2013. At least once every hour a bus leaves the terminal to service the downtown area and the adjacent areas to the west (Arakawa, Makira) and the east (Hirae, Maezato). The flat fare is ¥200 per trip. (Fares may possibly go up, since the sales tax was increased on April 1, 2014.)
By taxi
Taxis are available at the airport, at the ferry terminal, and in front of some of the larger hotels. For other locations, the best way to get one is to make a call to the radio dispatch system that most companies are part of. The dispatchers usually do not speak English, so you may need to ask someone at your hotel or guest house to make a call for you. Flagging a taxi down in the street is perfectly OK but rather unreliable - most taxis that pass by, especially on minor roads, are on the way to an appointment. The only exception is in the late evening hours in the downtown area, because at that time you can see many taxis slowly cruising the streets around the drinking establishments looking for passengers. Flag fall is around ¥450 (it varies depending on the type of car), and the meter ticks at alarming speed after 2 kilometers. (Fares may possibly go up, since the sales tax was increased on April 1, 2014.)
By car
There are many car rental companies in the island and many hotels offer car rental at a discounted price from ¥2000 to ¥4000 per day. Inquire at your accommodation. A drive between Ishigaki and the furthermost point of the island is about an hour and a half. A note of caution: the recent increase in tourist numbers, following the opening of the new airport, means that even outside of the peak season there are days when no car can be had - if it is important that you have a car you may want to book one in advance.
 
Beaches
 
 

Ishigaki's beaches are among the most spectacular in Japan.

Kabira Bay (川平湾 Kabira-wan). At the northwest corner of the island is this stunning emerald blue bay with a perfect yellow-white beach, dotted by craggy islands — but no swimming allowed, so the closest you can get is a glass-bottom boat tour (¥1000, 30 min). You can walk along the coast from bay to bay, but beware of the fast-moving tides that may trap you if you dally too much in the evening.
The best free landside views are from Kabira Park (川平公園 Kabira-kōen), a promenade complete with viewing pavilion that stretches along the coast above the beach itself.
Sukuji Beach (底地ビーチ), 2 km west of Kabira. One kilometer of white sand beach, equipped with changing rooms, showers, toilets and other essentials. The view from the beach is stunning and on a clear day Uganzaki lighthouse is visible in the distance. The sea is the shallowest to be found on any of Ishigaki's beaches, which is great if you fancy a relaxing paddle in the ocean, but swimmers should look elsewhere. Trees at the rear of the beach provide partial shade from the sun throughout much of the day.
Yonehara (米原). Offers nice sand and better coral reefs within easy snorkeling distance. Indeed, the reef begins within meters of the beach and hosts enough life to interest experienced snorkelers and beginners alike. Caution should be taken however as Yonehara's rip currents are notoriously strong. Signs in the parking area describe which areas should be avoided. There is a campsite located behind the beach with the facility to rent gear.
Tōjinbaka (唐人墓), Tōjin no haka stop on the Kabira Resort Line. This ornately decorated Chinese-style "Tang People's Grave" commemorates the sorry fate of some 400 Hokkien Chinese coolies, who mutinied and ran aground on Ishigaki on their way to California. Pursued by the British navy and American slavers, those captured were killed, so many headed into the mountains where they starved or committed suicide, and only a lucky few were taken under the wing of friendly locals and protected.
Nearby is also a newer (2001) bilingual monument of angular concrete, dedicated to three Americans shot down over Ishigaki in April 1945, during the closing days of World War II. After being captured and tortured, two were beheaded and one was used for bayonet practice, and monument duly notes that such things are not fair play according to the Geneva Convention.
Kannonzaki Lighthouse (観音崎灯台 Kannonzaki-tōdai). A little lighthouse on a little cape, not open to the public but there's a little park and viewing pavilion next to it. Not worth much of a detour but conveniently located across the road from Tōjinbaka.
Kannon-dō Temple (観音堂). Rounding out the trio of low-key attractions around Tōjinbaka is this quiet Okinawan-style wooden temple, with a grand lantern-lined staircase but little to see when you get there. The toilets, however, are kept in excellent shape.
 
The good: Scuba and snorkel central. A solid compromise for those who want peace and quiet without going to the true boonies. Ishigaki caters to families via numerous resorts and beaches, and to scuba divers with sites such as the legendary “Manta Scramble,” where giant manta rays gather.
We highly recommend staying in or around Kabira Bay, which features beautiful beaches and tropical vistas. Once twilight falls, watch for the colonies of giant flying foxes the size of lap dogs. Don’t worry: they only suck fruit, not blood.
Must-see: If you forget your flippers, the glass-bottomed boat tours are a good substitute. They cost 1,000 yen ($11) for 30 minutes and are run by several companies in Kabira Bay. Head to the beach; you can’t miss them.
The bad: Kabira may be the island’s most beautiful bay, but it’s off-limits to swimmers due to strong currents and boat traffic.
Plenty more beaches are within walking distance; Sukuji Beach is good for sunbathers and Yonehara for snorkelers.
The ugly: Divers in particular may want to avoid January and February, when seas are at their roughest. Independent sorts may chafe at the regimented, group-oriented approach of some Japanese dive operators. We’ve had more luck with bilingual and foreign-run operations than those that cater specifically to Japanese.
 
Eating Out
There are plenty of eating options in central Ishigaki, although many of the fancier places are open only for dinner. The stretch of Sanbashi-dori between the piers and the bus terminal has a good selection of reasonably priced Okinawan places, most of which offer affordable set lunches.
Budget[edit]
Banna, Misakicho 1-8 (On Sanbashi-dori opposite bus terminal). Okinawan izakaya that also offers reasonable set meals, open 9 AM to midnight. Try their goya champuru set for ¥750. 
Beach, Okawa 209 (Inside Ayapani Mall). This friendly stucco-walled beach café trapped in a mall offers the Okinawan speciality taco rice in both "standard" (Mexican-ish) and "original" (Asian chicken) versions for ¥800 with tea/coffee or ¥1000 with a draught Orion beer. Open 11:30 AM to 10 PM daily.
Kafka, Corner of Ayapani Mall. One of the very few places where you can get a coffee and a sandwich before 10am. 2nd floor of a building directly behind the Yaeyama Post Office. Open daily from 9 AM 
Masan-do, Shiyakusho-dori. Specializes in Yaeyama soba, ¥500 for a basic bowl, ¥800 for the soki version with a big hunk o' pork on top. Add your namecard to the vast collection on the walls. Open daily from 11 AM to 9:30 PM. 
Paikaji , (Near the main post office). A nice izakaya. Good space, good food. Open 5 PM to 12 PM (Closed Sundays). 
Mugiwaraboshi , Misakicho 3-2F (Above bus terminal). Even locals come here for Yaeyama soba (¥400+). Generously sized set lunches from ¥700. Open daily except Monday from 10 AM to 9 PM. 
Taniwha, Ohkawa 188 (About 50m north of Yui Road (walk up between 'P-Time Pachinko' and the car rental shop)). A bit old-fashioned, but the owners are very personable and can speak some English. Cakes, Japanese style curry, and sandwiches for ¥400-500. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon to midnight.
Uechi Jersey Bokujo Soft Cream Hanbaiten, Okawa 281-2 (on Yui Road), ? 090-9571-6750. This is the place to sample milk-flavored ice cream, made only from the milk of local Ishigaki cows. ¥300 per cone, open 11 AM to 7 PM daily.
 
A hint for shoe-string budget travelers: food is generally not cheap in Japan, but food hygiene rules are strict and certain kinds of foods that spoil easily come with "sell by..." expiry dates. Therefore supermarkets offer items that are about to become unsellable at a discount (20-50%), depending on the urgency (especially in the evenings). Decent quality prepared meals (bento, salads, etc.) as well as sashimi, sushi, and milk can therefore at times be had at a considerably reduced price if one is prepared to go shopping later in the day.
 
Shopping
Souvenir shops abound, particularly around the port. On the more standard items (such as beni-imo tarts) prices appear to have been standardized, with the same prices offered at the supermarket, downtown, or even at the airport. The exception is Ayapani Mall , a covered shopping arcade just west of the post office, at which certain stores offer a store-wide 10% discount.
Ishigaki-shi Tokusanpin Hanbai Center , Ayapani Mall 2F, Okawa 208. This city-sponsored retail center sells only authentic Ishigaki-made products, ranging from handicrafts to food items. 
Tezukurikan Kobo Uminchu , Misakicho 4 (Sanbashi-dori just south of port), . Home of the ubiquitous Uminchu T-shirts worn by approximately half the local population. A vast variety of designs from ¥2625. Yashiya, (Next to Tojinbaka). This little factory-shop cooks up tasty cane sugar candy, sold on premises for ¥500 per cake. You can also view the making process, which basically consists of mashing up sugarcane and then boiling the juice until it turns into brown sugar candy. 
Koubou Tumeya ,  0980-83-8201 (yumeya@m78.com),  Shisa  is a traditional Okinawan decoration, often found in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog. This workshop makes Shisa using traditional materials from the island. A visitor (of any age) can also make a Shisa with a step-by-step guidance from the staff. 
Aoqua Ishigaki Snorkeling and Seakayak Tour Guide 148-3 Fukai, 050-3133-1390,. 5. Snorkeling and Sea-kayak touguide in northern part of Ishigaki. ¥10,000-








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