The first rule of any road trip is to make sure you have a good map. This is where I think my friends and I went wrong on Ishigaki Island.
We rented a car from our guesthouse and left with the same hand drawn map that had gotten us lost the day before. We are really smart and clearly learn from our mistakes.
When we looked at our map and this useful website about Ishigaki in English, we felt a bit overwhelmed with which part of the island to explore.
We definitely wanted to lay on some beaches, see the landscape of the island, and see a little bit of history if possible.
We started our road trip by heading southwest towards Oganzaki Lighthouse. After circling the area a few times thanks to the lack of detail on our poorly drawn map we finally found the unmarked road that led to the lighthouse. In case you are keeping count, this is the second time we have gotten lost.
The lighthouse itself is pretty but not anything special. The coast surrounding the lighthouse was what made this part of our road trip really worth it. The coast is rocky and dramatic with green grass, cliffs, and bright blue water. There are even a few beaches that can be seen along the coast from the lighthouse.
After exploring the area around the lighthouse, we got back in the car and decided to head back up the peninsula the opposite way we came hoping to different views of the coast. BAD IDEA. We got lost again. Oh dear.
We eventually found our way back to the main road though after driving through tons of lovely smelling dairy farms. It was cool to see the dairy farms though so I guess I’m glad we got turned around a bit.
Next we went to the Toujin Tombs. At this historical site, they have a memorial for the 3 US soldiers from WWII who crash landed on Ishigaki Island and killed there. There is also a memorial for the Chinese workers that crashed on Ishigaki traveling from California. Their history is quite interesting and you can read a brief summary of it here.
These memorials were small and had almost no information in English. If you are in the area you should stop there because I do think the history is interesting and that we should remember the more unfortunate parts of Okinawa’s history, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. There isn’t a lot to see, read, or learn at the actual site unless you can read great Japanese.
I think it’s unfortunate that these memorials don’t have much to them. They have great potential to be a great way for people visiting Ishigaki to experience history and to learn about Ishigaki’s heritage.
Something else to think about is that you should plan where you are going to eat lunch before you leave. We had a hard time find a combini or any kind of restaurant while driving around the rural island. We just drove in circles looking for a place to eat lunch. More confusion for the girls without a proper map. Yay.
Next road trip on Ishigaki, we will come prepared with a bento for everyone. We ended up having to eat lunch at a resort restaurant which was delicious but far ore money than we wanted to spend. Plan ahead people. Winging it in the countryside is risky!
We ended our day chilling on bothFusaki Beach and Yonehara beach. We turned our phone GPS on in order to get there. We were officially done trying to figure out this map. Both beaches were beautiful, but sadly it was an overcast and cloudy day. Don’t worry though, we still got our naps in.