Quaint village scenery, beautiful beaches, and a distinctive charm
Immerse yourself in traditional Okinawan life on Taketomi Island, surrounded by coral reefs and stunning white-sand beaches. Discover the island’s unique heritage through its townscapes and crafts, and relax on its pristine shores. The island is easily accessible from Ishigaki Island, and makes the perfect getaway for a day trip or an overnight stay.
- Strolling the streets of a traditional town
- Beautiful beaches and spectacular sunsets
- Learning about the time-honored tradition of minsah weaving
About Taketomi Island
The compact island of Taketomi is approximately seven kilometers west of Ishigaki Island, just a short ferry ride from Ishigaki Port. It is part of Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park and is surrounded by the Sekisei Lagoon, a protected coral reef home to hundreds of species of coral and a variety of other marine life. Coral is ubiquitous on the island, with many walls and walkways made of coral remnants.
Traditional Ryukyu village
The island’s most striking feature is its beautifully preserved Ryukyu village. Limestone walls with hibiscus and bougainvillea hedgerows skirt wooden houses with traditional red-tiled roofs. Many of the roofs are guarded by shisa statues, a mythological guardian lion. Take a leisurely walk along the white coral sand streets for a laid-back introduction to the village.
Kondoi Beach, on Taketomi Island’s western side, has an expansive beachfront with soft white sand. The beach is popular for swimming and is equipped with basic facilities like toilets, changing rooms, and picnic tables. The shallow sandbar stretching far into the ocean makes it safe for children to play in. Nishi Pier (West Pier), is a 10-minute walk from the beach, and is an excellent spot for watching the sunset.
Kaiji Beach (Star Sand Beach) is famous for its star-shaped grains of sand. The “sand” is actually made up of the pointy husks of tiny shelled organisms called foraminifera. Note that it is prohibited to take them from the beach. Because of the strong currents, swimming is not allowed at the beach, but you can take a stroll along the shore, and examine the star-shaped sands under a magnifying glass at one of several beach stalls.
Ways to explore the island
The island’s compact size makes it easy to get around on foot or by bicycle. There are numerous places to rent bicycles at the port and in the main village, a 15-minute walk from the ferry terminal.
Another way to explore Taketomi Island is by walking the Taketomi Island Natural Education Walking Path, which starts from Visitor Center Taketomi Yugafu-Kan. A total of six kilometers, the walk takes you through the village, past the Taketomi Folk Craft Museum, and along the beaches on the western shores of the island.
The Tanadui Festival (Seed Festival) is held on Taketomi Island over two days in September of Okinawa’s lunisolar calendar. Join this 600-year-old festival to pray for the grain harvest and to see traditional song and dance performances.
Taketomi Island was once the center for traditional minsah production, a type of cloth distinguished by its ribbed texture with stripes and checked patterns. At the Taketomi Folk Craft Museum, visitors can experience Yaeyama minsah weaving through demonstrations and displays. The colorful dyes for the cotton threads are made from locally grown plants.
Where to stay
Most of the accommodations on the island are cozy guesthouses and minshuku—Japanese-style family-run B&Bs. For visitors who wish to enjoy contemporary comforts blended with rustic Okinawan charm, there is a luxury resort on the eastern side of the island.
Getting to Taketomi Island
Taketomi Island is accessible by high-speed boat from Ishigaki Port. Boats depart every hour and the journey takes 10 minutes.