For our last full day on Ishigaki, we rented a car so we could go explore the rest of this beautiful island.
Our first stop: Ishigaki Yaima Village.
This place has authentic replicas of traditional Yeayama houses before modern influences. You can also take part in various traditional crafts including painting Okinawan shisas, making Okinawan donuts, watching Eisa dances, and listening to traditional sanshin music. But most importantly (and the main reason I wanted to go), you can hang out and feed tiny squirrel monkeys! #ineedapetmonkey
For Nate's 33rd birthday, we decided to take a quick 15 minute ferry ride over to Taketomi-jima. The island is quite small and the residences (only 323 in 2012 #thankswikipedia) have kept traditional Ryukyu houses with red kawara (tiled) roofs, coral walls, and shiisa statues. The roads are made up of crushed coral and add to the laid back feel of the island. The island is less than 3 km wide, and less than 3.5 km from north to south. #tinybutcute
Once we arrived back on the ferry, we checked into our hotel only a few blocks from the port, the Vessel hotel. Using trusty TripAdvisor, we found a local restaurant serving the famous Ishigaki beef, Sumibi Yakiniku Takesantei only a block away from our hotel.
Again, only a little English was spoken, but we managed to get by with the help of hand gestures, my little Japanese skills, and the friendly staff. We ordered a dinner set that came with Ishigaki beef, veggies, kimchi, salad, and of course had to order some garlic (Nin'niku ニンニク (pronounced knee - knee - goo) - one of my favorite words I've learned so far! #dadwouldbeproud #ofthegarlicofcourse) This was like many Japanese restaurants, where you get to cook the food on the stove in front of you. #greatbusinessidea The Ishigaki beef was pretty good - but hard to compare once you've had the melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef!
To keep up with our tradition, we wanted to take a trip for Nate's birthday. We decided on Ishigaki island (and it's surrounding islands), which is a short 45 minute flight away from Okinawa, and part of the Ryukyu Island chain that Okinawa is a part of.
Once we arrived at the Ishigaki Airport, we took a short bus ride to the Ferry terminal, and hopped on a ferry to the less populated Iriomote-jima (jima is Japanese for 'island').
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!