It is located about 2km east of Iriomote Island, and is between Ishigaki Island and Iriomote Island, and part of Taketomi. It is separated by “Yonara waterway”, which is famous place as Manta can be seen (common name is Manta way). Since rice cultivation was possible from ancient times, it has the rich tradition of agriculture in the Yaeyama district. Sugarcane and rice are mainly cultivated now.
Made famous as the place where the Japanese TV Drama “Churasan” was filmed, Kohama Island (Kohama-jima) has quickly been discovered as a favorite tourist destination. The circumference of the island is 16.6 kilometers and there is a total of 501 people living on the island. “Chura” is a local dialect and means “beauty”. Kohama can be reached by boat from Ishigaki port in just 30 minutes. As the last boat goes back at 5:45pm a day’s tour around the small island is always a good idea. The highest elevation of 99 meters offers you a scenic panorama view all over the island and beyond.
Kohama’s main industries are sugar and tourism. The island is now home to two new resort hotels and many inns. A whole view of surrounding islands can be commanded from Ufudaki, which exists in the center. The whole region and the circumference ocean area of the island are specified as Iriomote National Park.
Getting to Kohama Island
The ride by ferry to Kohama Island is about 25 minutes from Ishigaki. There are many boats leaving each day with the first departure at about 7am and the last at about 6pm. Tickets to Kohama Island can be purchased from the ANEI Kankou Ferry or from the Yaeyama Kankou Ferry. The roundtrip cost is 1960 yen per person.
Upon getting to Kohama Island, you can then use rent a car, bicycle, or scooter, or the bus to explore. The Kohama Koutsu Company (0980-85-3830) offers rides from the port to the city for 150 yen and also offers one hour island tours for 1500 yen per person. Rental cars are about 1500 yen per an hour, bicycles are 250 yen per an hour, and scooters are 800 yen per an hour. The island is quite hilly so it would be best to rent a scooter. You can find a rental shop right across the street from the ferry terminal.
Services in Kohama Island
There are a few stores, a gas station, and also a post office on the island. You should be able to find everything that you need when in the town area. After venturing out into the sugar cane areas, you may find it hard to locate any kind of stores. Still, you may be able to find an occasional vending machine.
Lodging in Kohama Island
On the island, there are lodges where the locals treat you with great hospitality, and private beaches and resort hotels where you’ll find peacocks, and also subtropical flowers that bloom profusely. The largest resort on the island is called Yamahari Resort Haimurubushi. It is designed for a long stay and is a full service resort hotel offering watersports, beachfront, spa, petting zoo, and a golf course.
|Villa Hapira Pana
|Minshuku Omoshiro Sou
|Minshuku Kayama Sou
|Yamahari Resort Haimurubushi
Please remember that if you are staying at a minshuku, they may not provide you with a bath towel. You might have to bring our own so please check when making your reservations.
The most famous sight in Kohama Island is the “sugar road”. This road was used during the filming of the show “Churasan”. Sugar is still a very important aspect of Kohama’s economy. Sugar in Kohama is all cut by hand. Some people come from all over mainland to work in the fields. They are provided with free lodging and no pay….still, this is enough to get people to come to the island.
On this island where the flow of time is gentle and relaxing, the custom of wearing extravagantly woven kimonos such as Konjigasuri and Jyoufu for festivals and ceremonial events still remains. It is for this reason that the women on the island continue to weave while they pray for the happiness of the family. Experience the work of such elegant and loving women by trying your hand at small coaster weaving. In addition, in November there is a sugarcane harvest that most of the men and women of the island participate. Experience making fresh juice and brown sugar with the sugarcane that you harvested.
If you are interested in the “Sugar Cane Harvesting Experience” you can try to work as a volunteer at the Kohama Island Farm. The work period is from about 1-3 months and includes no pay. You will receive a place to stay as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The field working hours are usually from 8am-6pm. Although a very tough volunteering job, it can be rewarding. Please call 090-5939-3418 or 090-7926-9055 for more information. Basic Japanese ability is a requirement. Most sugar cane harvesting begins in December.
You should also take the time to go to the Ufudaki lookout. From this lookout, you can see almost all of the island as well as Iriomote and Hateruma Island. Take some time and explore the beaches on the island. If you have time, you may also want to explore and take a short trip over to the neighboring Kayama Island. It was once inhabited by people who raised cattle. Now it is known as “Rabbit Island” for the 1000 rabbit that have multiplied on the island. The island is an excellent spot to do snorkeling from.
- The Umubiraki (Opening of the Sea Ceremony) celebration marks the opening of the sea to swimmers. It is the first sea opening ceremony in all of Japan. The celebration also includes the Miss Yaeyama Pageant, contests, and an offshore fishing tournament. The location of this event rotates each year between Ishigaki’s Kabira Bay and Kohama Island.
- To the Island where the sugarcane fields spread across the land, gently swaying in the wind. Being invited by the sound of the loom that echoes from the house or the smiles of the local people working up a sweat out in the sugarcane fields, you will gradually feel the island’s kindness as you experience the everyday life on the island.
Harvesting sugarcane is one aspect of the island life. The sugarcane which grow to be about 2 meters long are cut down by the root after chopping off the leaves. In the experience, after harvesting the sugarcane, you can squeeze the stalk and quench your thirst with its sweet refreshing juice. In addition you can take this juice and boil it down and pour it in a mold to make “brown sugar”.
Location: Kohamajima Farm Number of people: 1-10 Time: 10:00-15:00 Time needed: 1 hour Season: November-May Days Open: Everyday
Sign-up deadline: 1 day in advance
- The women on the island weave Kimonos for their families which include Splash Patterns and Jyoufu Linen. The people of the island wear kimonos as a ceremonial dress for festivals and other celebrations. Try this lovely experience of using your hands to bring health and happiness to your family.
Location: The Kohama People’s Reference Center Number of people: 1-3 Time: 10:00-16:00 Time needed: 1 hour Season: January—December Days Open: Monday—Tuesday
Sign-up deadline: 3 days in advance
[Inquiries] Kohama Island Traditional Textiles, Sugarcane Juice, Brown Sugar Making Reception: Kohamajima Kankou Co. Lid. Tel: 090-5939-3418 Address: 3208-1 1 Kohama, Taketomi Township Hours: 7:00~ 19:00
Appointments required and accepted until noon the day before
- Yonara waterway is between Iriomote Island and Kohama Island, it is a passage of the huge ray, and it is very famous place as “Manta(Ray) way”. From the reef by the side of the Iriomote Island near center of the waterway, the creatures of the sands, such as a garden eel and goby, are also seen. It will be crowded with tourist who enjoys diving in a season from April to June.
Nagaki is an enclosure for capturing the fish of the world’s largest class, which is in the southern coast of Kohama Island and attains to width of 12m and a length of 1.2km. Nagaki is the device, built by stone to enclose seawater on the shore, fishes are captured by the ebb and flow of tide. A long time ago, it is said that it was built for the court lady of this island who served the Ryukyu king. The people of this island took the lady’s name and called it “Shimannda-Gaki”.
- The house of Eri, the heroine in the drama “Churasan”, was a beautiful house with a red tiled roof, overflowing with the Kohama mood.
- The best way to get around the island is riding a bicycle so that you can leisurely cut through the salty sea breeze. Once you go up the gentle slope with endless sugarcane fields you can hope for a beautiful view of the ocean.
- There are many different types of corals living in the ocean between Kohama Island and Kayama Island. By snorkeling in the ocean, you can observe coral reefs and subtropical fish so beautiful it’s breathtaking.
Kohama Island (Kohama-jima) Scenery:
Want to know more about Kohama Island? Here are some links…
Hirata Tourism Company – “Kohama”
Okinawa Island’s – “Kohama Island”
Kohama Island – Okinawa2Go Tour Operator
Kohama Island, Taketomi-cho (Taketomi Town)
Kohama Island Snorkeling Tour By Anei Kanko Co., Ltd
Haimurubushi Hotel in Kohama
Risonare Kohama-jima Resort Hotel (Japanese)
Pushynushima Ishigaki – Kohama Diving (Japanese)
Kohama Car Rental (Japanese)
Kohama Island Tourist Information Kohama Island (Kohama-jima), Taketomi-cho (Taketomi Town), Yaeyama-gun (Yaeyama District), Okinawa Prefecture 907-1292, Japan TEL: 0980-73-8739, 0980-83-1530 (Ishigaki office) FAX: 0980-73-3397, 0980-88-6051 (Ishigaki office)
Website: http://kohamajima.net/ (Japanese)