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Iriomote Island

Iriomote IslandMap of Iriomote Island Iriomote Island ("Iriomotejima" in Japanese) is the second largest island on Okinawa Prefecture after Okinawa Island.
It is located about 25 km west of Ishigaki Island.

The main part of the island is roughly 20 km square, and a peninsula with complex coastline extends at the southwest part of the island.

The island is mountainous, and the whole area is covered with natural subtropical forests.
The main mountains are over 400 meters high, but two main rivers (Nakama River, Urauchi River) flow down from the mountains.

The rich forests have many kinds of endemic species of animals, birs and plants.
Especially, Iriomote wild cat is well-known.

In this island, malaria had been present since ancient times.
So it had been difficult for people to settle down in this island, and only a few small settlements had been established.
Malaria was eradicated in 1950s at long last.
As a result, the rich nature has been preserved.

Today, only some small villages are still dotted along the coast.
The ports are Oohara on the southeast coast and Uehara on the northwest coast.
Only a road in this island runs along the western, northern and eastern coastlines through the village.
The inland of the island has only a few trails.

On this only main road, route bus is operated 6 to 8 times a day.
We can use a rental car or a sightseeing taxi, but we have to have an appointment.

We can enjoy the nature in this island.
Basically, to visit the inland, we use the tour boat or rent a canoe on the main rivers.

There is a large resort hotel on the northwest coast.
It was opened in 2004, despite the opposition from the islanders because of the destruction of the natural environment.
I hear that many shops around the villages refuse the hotel guests to do shopping in their shops.

There are some minshuku in each village.
I recommend that you stay these minshuku with Japanese familylike atmosphere.

Main spots in Iriomote Island

  • Nakama River /1/ : One of main river flowing toward southeast coast.
    At the mouse of the river, there is Oohara Port where the ship from Ishigaki Port comes.
    The length is about 13 km, and rich mangrove forests grow along the shore of the downstream site.
    The tours by plasure boat are popular.
    A big tree of Sakishima-suou (looking-glass mangrove) about 400 years old is a sight to see.
  • Iriomote Wildlife Center /2/ : The institute of the Ministry of the Environment.
    It is located near Komi district about 7 km north-northeast of Oohara Port.
    It has protected the rare creatures in Iriomote Island, and we can learn them by the stuffed animals and photos.
    And we can see the rehabilitation of damaged Iriomote wild cat on the video monitor.
  • Yubu Island /3/ : A small island located about 10 km north-northeast of Oohara Port.
    It is a sandy island and only a dozen people live on the island.
    The sea between this island and Iriomote Island is very shallow, so the water buffalo carriages across this sea are popular.
    Originally, the people in this island had done farm work on Iriomote Island. They used this carriage as as the transportation.
    The water buffaloes are very clever and obedient.
  • Pinaisaara Falls /4/ : A waterfall near Funaura Cove on the north coast. The height is about 55 meters.
    The main road runs over the cove, so we can see this waterfall on the bridge.
  • Star Sand Beach /5/ : The beach where we can find much star sands.
    A star sand is a foraminiferal shell. Foraminifera is a very small protist living in the sea, and the shell is in the form of a star.
    It is found in the tropical zone in western Pacific Ocean.
    Taketomi Island is famous for star sand, but we can find them more than Taketomi island.
  • Urauchi River /6/ : One of main river flowing toward northwest coast.
    It is about 19 km long and is swollen with a volume of water. It is the longest river in Okinawa Prefecture.
    Around the mouth, mudland is formed, so wide mangrove forests spread.
    We can join the river tours at Urauchi Bridge near the mouth of the river.
  • Mariyudu Falls /7/ : A waterfall about 8 km upstream from Urauchi Bridge.
    It is formed in a succession of two small falls. And the waterfall basin is circular in shape.
  • Kanpiree Falls /8/ : A waterfall about 250 meters upstream from Mariyudu Falls.
    Along the river about 50 meters wide, there are a series of some low falls like stairs.
Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

How to get to here

By ship

By high-speed ship, from Ishigaki Port, about 35 minutes to Oohara Port, about 40 minutes to Uehara Port.

Nakama River Mangrove trees along Nakama River
Old Sakishima-suou Pleasure boat of Nakama River
Photo by freesozai.info
Iriomote Wildlife Center Stuffed Oriomote wild cat
Water buffalo carriage of Yubu Island
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
On the carriage
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Pinaisaara Falls
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Canoeing to Pinaisaara Falls
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Star Sand Beach
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Star sands of Iriomote Island
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Urauchi River
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Mangroves at the mouth of Urauchi River
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Mariyudu Falls
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com
Kanpiree Falls
Photo by Ishigakijima-umibe.com

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