Many of my friends and even family are still slightly confused about where I actually live, even though it’s been almost four years now!
Ishigaki one of the most southern islands in Japan. A 3 hours 30min flight from Tokyo or one hour from Okinawa. It is actually closer to Taiwan than any other main island! The only way to get here is by flight, with the exception of cruise ships departing from Taiwan and back (not the other way around). Fortunately, many airlines offer tourist discounts because Ishigaki is well worth visiting!
But this is not where you get your typical Japan experience. The whole Okinawa prefecture (which Ishigaki is part of) was until 1879 known as the Ryukyu kingdom boosting its own very special culture and traditions. Ishigaki is in fact where many mainland Japanese themselves go for holidays! So if you also feel like you need a break from big cities, big temples and just want to relax and see some nature Ishigaki is perfect. The island has some of the finest beaches in Japan and the coral reefs are just a few swim strokes away from the shore at some parts. Besides Ishigaki there are also many other islands to explore that are easily accessible by boat (the closest one, Taketomi, is just 10min away!).