Ishigaki City is filled with historical sites, shopping, and natural beauty. By simply walking around the town, one can see traditional Kawaraya houses as well as stone walls. In some areas, you feel as though you have stepped back in time. Within the city you can also find a Citizens Hall, Public Library, Municipal Yaeyama Museum, as well as the World Peace Bell. The shopping arcade Abayani has an array of fruits, vegetables, fish, as well as clothing and souvenir items. Shiyakusho road offers a variety of shops and restaurants for you to explore. Misaki-cho is red light district which features late night bars, Japanese style pubs, snack bars, and numerous restaurants.
With a population of about 46,000 people, Ishigaki Island is also the center of transportation and government for the Yaeyama region. In addition to Ishigaki’s stunning scenic beauty and tropical weather, the island is also rich in history and culture. Ishigaki is also home to the prestigious Ishigaki ITU World Cup Triathlon. Over 70% of the Yaeyama region population is on Ishigaki Island. The outer Yaeyama islands include Iriomote, Taketomi, Kuroshima, Hateruma, Hatoma, and Kohama. All of these islands can easily be reached using Ishigaki’s extensive ferry system.
Ishigaki Downtown Self-Guided Walking Tour
The sightseeing route starts in the central Misaki-Cho district area. As you walk down the main road, you will pass by numerous shops and restaurants. Although it may seem empty during the day, the area comes to life at night with various restaurants, Japanese-style pubs, and snack bars.
After passing the post office and the bank, make a right turn onto Yui Road. You will see the Yaeyama Museum on your right. The entry fee into the museum is only 200 yen. Over 5,000 artifacts as well as cultural treasures are on display in this museum. Although the museum is not very large, it is a good place to get a glimpse into Yaeyama’s past. After the museum, head back towards the post office. After passing the post office, turn down the first left. You will see an entrance to the local marketplace known as Ayapani Mall on your left. This mall-like market is known for its wide selection of produce, meats, and souvenirs.
After you are done in Ayapani Mall, make your way back to Wharf Street. Walk uphill and you will see a sign which says “Miyara Dunchi”. Turn left down the road and you will see the Miyara Dounchi House on your right. The house was built in 1819 by Area Officer Miyara Pei-chin Toen. This national cultural property includes a one-storied structure, hip tiled roof, and a rock garden. There is a small fee of 200 yen per person that you will need to pay to the caretaker of the house.
After seeing the Miyara Dounchi House, you can continue walking down the same road until you reach the next main intersection. Turn left and walk straight down until you hit Yui Road. At Yui Road, turn right and follow the road. After about 5 minutes, you will see the Gogendo Shrine and the Tourinji Templeon your right. Both of these religious structures were built in 1614. Tourinji is a Buddhist temple which is part of the Myoshinji sect of Rinzaishu. The statues found at the main gate of this temple are the last remaining ones of its kind in all of Okinawa. The statues were made by pressing together pieces of Michelia compressa. Gongendo Shrine is located next door to the Tourinji Temple. Gongendo Shrine was destroyed by the great tidal wave of Meiwa in 1771. It was later rebuilt in 1786. The shrine features a hipped roof structure and a wave style structure that has three rooms.
At the next traffic light, turn left onto Tourinji Nishi Street and continue straight down. Turn left onto the road which has the city auditorium. This will take you past Shinei Park and the World Peace Bell. Just like the one that is found at the United Nations Headquarters, this bell is rung during the International Day of Peace. There are three world peace bells located in Japan. The bells are created by using coins and medals from countries around the world. World Peace Bells can also be found in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Mongolia, Australia, Philippines, Argentina, Ecuador, Spain, Uzbekistan, and New Zealand.
The route will take you back into the main downtown area where you started. We hope that you have enjoyed this mini tour of the downtown area. Be sure to explore the many shops and restaurants that the area has to offer. Explore, relax, and have fun!
For those of you that are interested in traveling to the outer islands, Hirata Tourism Company has friendly English speaking staff that can help you on your way. Their office is located in front of the remote island ferry port. Relax, stroll the city, experience Yaeyama hospitality, and have a wonderful stay here in Ishigaki.
Other Spots of Interest on Ishigaki (You can get to these spots by taxi)
Ishigaki City Govt., Ishigaki City Hall/ Ishigaki City Culture Center 14 Misakicho, Ishigaki City (Ishigaki-shi), Okinawa Prefecture, 907-8501 Tel: 0980-82-9911, 0980-82-2809, 0980-82-1243, 0980-82-2226 Fax: 0980-83-1427, 0980-83-0782