Travelling to Japan is high on the wish list of many people (especially Japan Fans), but has to be postponed by COVID. Still, you can always dream! And – as my Japanese friend Akiko says – there is no better fun than anticipation. That is why we are starting a new column as of today, by none other than Edo Japan Travel.
“When thinking of travelling to Japan, well-known places such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Takayama often come to mind,” says Edo, “These places are also often known for the many tourists they receive, both from Japan and from outside Japan. But there is much more: Japan has something for every type of traveller, a diversity of sights such as nature, culture and history. Because of this, there is much more to see than just the well-known places. And because of the crowds at the well-known attractions, my advice is also definitely to get off the beaten track and seek out the ‘Hidden Gems’!”
As the first item in this new section full of hidden gems, we take a virtual look at the Iki Islands, via the most beautiful photos on Instagram, carefully selected by Edo – yup, the Japan Fan who already put together this taiko concert! But we start with an “overview”, a nice film by the government and some basic facts. Enjoy!
Iki Islands (壱岐島, Iki-no-shima) also known as Iki Archipelago (壱岐諸島, Iki-shotō) is an archipelago of 23 islands, of which only 4 are permanently inhabited with a total population of about 28,008 people. Iki Island archipelago lies together with Tsushima Island in the strait of Korea that runs between Kyushu and South Korea. Here, the Ike archipelago lies between Tushima and Kyushu. It is a hidden gem known, among other things, for its Iki Beef and clear blue waters with white sandy beaches.
Together with the neighbouring island of Tsushima, Iki Island falls within the Iki-Tsushima Quasi-National Park. The islands have a volcanic origin that has not been active for 400,000 years. The highest point is Takenotsuji with a peak at 212.9 metres above sea level. The islands have been inhabited since the Japanese Paleolithic era (40,000 – 10,000 B.C.). Various objects have been found from the Jōmon, Yayoi and Kofun periods.
How to get to Iki? The islands can be reached both by plane and by ferry. The flight (by small plane) departs from Nagasaki Airport and takes about 30 minutes. There are also some ferry terminals in Ashibe, Ishida and Gōnoura, which connect Iki with mainland Japan, such as Fukuoka and Kitakyushu.
The islands are full of attractions, such as the Iki City Ikikoku Museum, where you can enjoy learning the history of Iki-no-shima. Take a look at the official website of the museum or read more in English here. Another hotspot is the Harunotsuji Archeological Site, this historical site is a collection of historical ruins of a kingdom described in a Chinese historical book. There is also the fascinating Soroku Tomb (Soroku Kofun), which is a 100-metre-high burial mound lying on a hill, built in the middle of the sixth century.
Of course, there are also many beautiful shrines to visit on the Iki Islands, like Sumiyoshi Shrine and Kojima Shrine. Follow the links below to enjoy the beautiful photos by Instagrammers @pochi0820 and @aya01060116 .
Below is the Hakusa Hachiman Shrine as photographed by @ikishima_official
More places worth visiting are the Site of Katsumoto Castle Ruins and the Kurosaki Battery Site, as photographed by @wazentabi and @asami.mitsuhiko , respectively.
Photo spots with nice view…
…is how Edo calls the next mini category in this Instagram exhibition. Take a look and you will immediately see what he means! 😉 The first picture is of Saruiwa さるいわ aka “Monkey Rock”. As the official visitor’s guide explains:
The Saruiwa (Monkey Rock) created by nature over many years looks just like a monkey facing away! It appears in a legend because it is a mysterious sight. It is also said to be a pillar built by the gods so that Iki-no-shima will not be washed away. In addition to its giant and unique shape, the superb view of the beautiful setting sun you can see over the rock is noteworthy. We recommend enjoying both the land and sea views. There is a shop nearby, so you can buy souvenirs (e.g., T-shirts, original products and marine products) here.
Here is a beautiful photo of this particular rock, by the Instagram account @ikiisland :
Another intriguing place with a mysterious legend is Oni no Ashiato (Ogre’s Footprint) in Makizaki Park おにのあしあと（まきざきこうえんない). In the words of the official website:
This is a popular spot with a superb view that is said to be of a footprint made by a demon planting his feet in order to save a whale. This large hole with a circumference of 110 meters was created by nature over many years. It has become a famous fishing spot and many anglers visit. It is said that there are two footprints because the large demon straddled Iki Island. The other footprint is thought to be on Tatsunoshima.
Here is a pretty picture of the “Ogre’s Footprint”, again by @ikiisland:
ki has a maritime climate with the most pleasant travel temperatures from May to October. As in other regions of Japan, most rain falls in June and July. Iki Island is a wonderful place to enjoy sightseeing and beaches. Tsutsukihama beach, Ishida, is one of the most popular. Watch the video below to see why…
And this is just one of the beautiful beaches. Popular among surfers are Kiyoshihama beach, Ashibe, or Ohama, Ishida. And Nishikihama beach, Ishida, or Twins Beach, Gonoura are more in demand by scuba divers and other water sports enthusiasts.
Iki islands is a beautiful and versatile location, perfect to fit into your trip, for example, when visiting Kyushu. Hopefully, with this little blog by Edo Travel, this gem has become a little less hidden! Next time, a new, relatively unknown location. If you have a tip, please let us know by commenting below, by email or by posting in our Facebook group.
Finally, some nice and interesting websites to find out more or to read back:
- GajinPot: Iki Island – GaijinPot Travel
- JNTO: Iki Island (Ikishima) | Nagasaki Attractions | Travel Japan | JNTO
- Fukuoka now Iki Island Summer Adventure! | Fukuoka Now (fukuoka-now.com)
- Discover Nagasaki Learn about Iki Island! | Featured Topics | DISCOVER NAGASAKI/The Official Visitors’ Guide (discover-nagasaki.com)