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Ishigaki Island Highlights

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285 Ishigaki, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa-ken 907-0023, Japan
The Tōrin-ji Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple was originally built in 1614 and because a 1771 tsunami wiped out much of the city, it is Okinawa’s oldest wooden building. Its carvings (the two big guys on either side of the main gate) also clock in as...
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178 Ōkawa, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa-ken 907-0022, Japan

Built in 1819, this is the kind of house a rich samurai might have lived in (although not here; samurai didn’t live in this area—this house was built for a local official). While you can’t go in the house proper, a lot of...

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Kabira Bay is the place to go for black pearls. Black pearls are more commonly associated with Tahiti, but because pearl cultivation was first developed in Japan, there are a couple of pearl farms in Okinawa. Black pearls actually range from deep...
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4-1 Tonoshiro, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa-ken 907-0004, Japan
Yaeyama Museum is small, interesting and worth a trip just to see some of the oldest human remains found in this part of the world, dating back about 24,000 years. Note that any item in the museum that’s over, say, 200 years old is not Japanese;...
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Taketomi Island, Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture 907-1101, Japan
Taketomi Island, just a short boat ride from Ishigaki, is the closest thing you’ll find to traditional Okinawa. About 300 people live on the car-free island, so you have to walk, bike or take an oxcart to get around. Make time for Kihoin Temple...
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2 Chome-5-18 Hamasakichō, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa-ken 907-0013, Japan
Beef from these southern islands is along the lines of Kobe beef but not as famous and generally a lot harder to find. Expect lots of marbling, so if fatty meat isn’t your thing, skip it.
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2468-1 Arakawa, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa-ken 907-0024, Japan
In this lovely traditional setting, tiny buildings scattered around the well-manicured grounds serve as dining areas. Customers are entertained by dance and samisen (a cross between a guitar and a banjo, but with only three strings) performances....
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The Yurateiku Market is small enough for a fairly quick run-through, but it’ll have most of what you’re after, including Ishigaki salt and awamori, the local booze. The market is also where locals come to do their shopping, so you’ll see some...
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The Yonekoyaki Craft Center offers Japanese and Okinawan arts and crafts and is the place to hit if you’re after a shisa, the Okinawa guardian dog/lion sort of thing. Usually found in pairs—mouth closed on the right shisa, open on the...