The gateway to Southeast Asia. Attractions include Japan's only subtropical national park and houses with red tiled roofs offering scenes of olden Okinawa.
Yae-yama Islands, an archipelago lying 450 kilometers to the southwest of Okinawa Main Island, consist of Ishigakij-jima, Iriomote-jima, Taketomi-jima, Kohama-jima, Kuro-shima, Hateruma-jima, Yonaguni-jima and several other islands.
Iriomote-jima, Okinawa's second largest island after the main land, lies approximately 18 kilometers to the west of Ishigaki-jima Island. Over 90 percent of the island is covered with subtropical virgin forests. The island is designated as a Quasi-National Park due to its large number of precious animals and vegetation, such as Iriomote wildcats, declared a special protected species. In the basins of the Nakama-gawa and Ura-uchi-gawa rivers, where dense mangroves grow, there are boat and canoe routes along which you can enjoy an unscathed natural environment.
On Taketomi-jima Island, approximately four kilometers southwest of Ishigaki-jima Island, you can see a side of Okinawa much like it was in olden times. There are many houses with red tiled roofs surrounded by stone walls, and a visit to historical spots by water buffalo carriage is a big attraction among tourists on the island. Also, in the southwestern part of the island are two of the major beaches in Okinawa, Hoshizuna-no-hama, a beach covered with star-shaped sand crystals, as well as another beautiful beach with shallow water.
Kohama-jima Island has a pastoral landscape with sugarcane fields and farms. It also has modern resort facilities, making it a great place to try marine sports and play golf.
Kuro-shima Island's main industry is the production of beef. Herds of cattle, that outnumber the island residents ten to one, are pastured there. The beach in the southeastern part of the island is a good snorkeling point with various species of colorful fish to be seen.
Hateruma-jima Island, lying 63 kilometers to the southwest of Ishigaki-jima Island, is the southernmost inhabited island in Japan. There is a monument designating it as the southernmost point in Japan, and many tourist attractions, such an observation tower for viewing stars. In summer you can see the Southern Cross with the naked eye.
On the other hand, Yonaguni-jima Island is the westernmost place in Japan. It is 117 kilometers from Ishigaki-jima Island, and just 111 kilometers away from Taiwan. It lies on the border between Japan and Taiwan, which can be seen in the distance several times a year. Also, 100 meters off the southern coast of the island is what appears to be an undersea ruin, which is quite popular among divers. Some controversy has been raised as to whether it is a man-made or natural structure.
[Air] 3h 25 min from Haneda to Ishigaki Airport.
[Air] 2h 50 min from Kansai International Airport to Ishigaki Airport.
[Air] 1h 35 min to Yonaguni Airport, and 30 min to Ishigaki Airport.
From Ishigaki Port Rito Terminal: 30 min to Ohara Port (the eastern part of Iriomote-jima Island), 10 min to Taketomi-jima Island, 30 min to Kohama-jima Island and Kuro-shima Island, 60 min to Hateruma-jima Island by high-speed ship.