The gorgeous Japanese island that belongs on every bucket list

Sep 02, 2021

When you think of Japan, images of cherry blossoms, snow monkeys and neon-lit cities will likely come to mind – not necessarily sandy beaches and coral reefs. But this is set to change in the coming years as visitors return to the southern island of Ishigaki.

Before Covid-19 put a pause on international travel, the Okinawa islands of Japan were enjoying a huge surge in popularity. Back in 2018, Ishigaki was named TripAdvisor’s “most trending travel spot” based on the amount of positive reviews the destination received from travellers.

With the 2023 Japan cruise season recently launched, and Ishigaki featuring as a port on many itineraries, this trend is expected to resume quite rapidly.

Here are a few things you may not have known about this subtropical “off the beaten track” region of Japan:

1. The world Ishigaki in Japanese means ‘Stone Wall’.

2. The oldest wooden building in Okinawa can be found on Ishigaki. It’s called Torinji Temple and was built in 1614.


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3. A bridge connects the Ishigaki to a manmade island affectionately known as Cat Island. As the name suggests, the area has a huge feline population.

4. Approximately 50,000 people call the island home.

5. It’s an absolute haven for nature lovers, with lush rainforest walks, cool swimming spots and and rivers ideal for kayaking.

For those interested in exploring this striking region, the upcoming 2023 Princess cruise season offers an easy opportunity, with Ishigaki and Okinawa confirmed as ports on many roundtrips from Tokyo. However, Australian travellers are advised to get in quickly; with the northern hemisphere already cruising and booking again, those who wait may face disappointment once borders reopen.

Thankfully, those on the fence can hold a place with a small up-front deposit, which remains fully refundable until 181 days before departure. Those who book through Travel at 60 before Tuesday 7 September 2021 can even halve this up-front amount!

Have you had the chance to visit Japan? Which area offered the most surprises? Share your thoughts below!

Is Ishigaki on your bucket list?

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