ISHIGAKI ISLAND OVERVIEW
Ishigaki island (Japan) is a part of Yaeyama islands archipelago. It's the most populated island, counting about 50 000 inhabitants.
The island surface is 229 km².
By the surface, the biggest island of the archipelago is Iriomote : 290 km².
Yaeyama archipelago is located on the same latitude than the Hawaiian islands. On the west of Ishigaki, Taiwan coasts distance is about 250 km. China is about 500 km. Yaeyama archipelago is the most Western and Southern point of Japan.
Ishigaki city is mainly located in the South of the island. Then there are few villages here and there. Ishigaki port is located in the South as well and is a link to the other Yaeyama islands. The airport is located on the east coast.
The road network is well developed, also rent a car is good way to discover the island. Using buses, taxis or scooters is also possible.
Rent bicycles to discover the island seems difficult (but not impossible) regarding distances, the landscape and the climate.
Yaeyama islands archipelago
From Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka or Hong-Kong, you will find direct flights to Ishigaki. During the season (April - October) you will also find direct flights from Taiwan (China Airlines).
Inside Okinawa prefecture itself, Ishigaki is linked to Naha (Okinawa island), Miyako island and Yonaguni island with everyday flights.
ANA and JAL are the biggest Japanese airline companies.
Peach Airline and Solaseed air are low cost airlines with flights to Ishigaki.
Flights travel time
※Tokyo (Haneda/Narita) - Ishigaki : 3 hours
※Osaka (Kansai airport) - Ishigaki : 2 hours
※Naha - Ishigaki : 1 hour
※Hong-Kong - Ishigaki : 2 hours (Hong-Kong Express, low-cost airline)
Visit the other islands of the Yeayama archipelago.
At the port you can take a high-speed ferry for the other islands of the archipelago. There is a car-ferry service but it is costly and not adapted for tourism. Therefore the better option will be to rent a car again at destination if you want to move by your own.
Ferries travel time
※Ishigaki – Taketomi : 15 minutes
※Ishigaki – Hateruma : 1 hour 10 minutes
※Ishigaki- Kohama: 25 minutes
※Ishigaki – Iriomote: 45 minutes
※Ishigaki – Yonaguni: 4 hours
(or 35 minutes by plane)
Ferries timetable: HERE
Ishigaki's climate is subtropical. The weather is unforeseeable. In the same day, winds can suddently turn and weather totally change. During winter, the weather is cloudy and windy; sunny during summer time.
Humidity level is high on the island, especially during the rainy season, continuing about 6 weeks (from May 9 to June 23). Actually this rainy season (called 'tsuyu' in Japanese) is not the most rainy of the year.
Generally, temperatures keep being higher than 20 degrees all year round. However, in January or February, it is possible to find the highest drop down to 15 degrees. However this continues on just for few days.
In summer time, it is very hot (more than 30 degrees) and very humid. Down town, the heath can be stifling, but on the seaside there is always a breeze. Please be very careful with the sun ultraviolet rays. They are very strong from early spring to the end of autumn.
Typhoons season starts in July and ends in November. In case of a typhoon, all the flights are cancelled. After a typhoon the sea temperature decreases, which is also important for the coral reef life.
It is in summer and autumn that the sea water is the warmest, reaching 30 degrees or more. For pleasant temperatures, end of May - beginning of November is the best. In summer, please remain vigilant about the habu jellyfish ('habu kurage' in Japanese). As much as possible use water shoes and rash guards to avoid being stung.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Until the end of the 19th century, the Ryukyu islands (archipelago starting from Yaeyama islands to Okinawa islands) was an independent kingdom. In 1879, Japan annexed the islands. At the end of the second world war II, in 1945, Ryukyu islands were run by an American government called United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands. It's only in 1972 that Ryukyu islands are given back to Japan.