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Miyako Island

Miyako IslandMap of Miyako Island Miyako Island ("Miyakojima" in Japanese) is located about 300 km southwest of Okinawa Island.
It has a roughly right-trianglar shape, and it is about 25 km both from north to south and from east to west.

About 5 km west of Miyako Island, there are Irabu Island and Shimoji Island. A narrow channel like a river are between both islands.

About 2 km north of the northern tip of Miyako Island, there is Ikema Island. Ikema-Ohashi bridge connects both islands.

And about 1.5 km southwest of Miyako Island, there is small Kurima Island. Also, Kurima-Ohashi bridge connects both islands.

Miyako island is relatively flat, and the highest point is only 115 meters high.
The land is formed by limestone, so there is no river in this island, because rain water is alomost absorbed into the land. And it is the only island among the main islands in Okinawa where no poisonous snake "habu" lives.

In the sea about 5 to 22 km north of Ikema Island, broad coral reefs called "Yabiji".
It spreads within about 17 km from north to south and about 6.5 km from east to west, and the area almost appears above the surface of the sea at every spring tide.

In 1873, a German merchant ship sailing from China to Australia ran aground in the south of Miyako Island in a typhoon.
An islander found it, but it was impossible to rescue the crews by boat on the stormy sea at night.
So the islanders gave them courage by overnight bonfires on the shore.
The next morning, some islanders rescured 8 suvivors by two boats on the stomy sea.

The islanders took good care of them. And after they had stayed in Miyako Island for about a month, they came back to Germany.
The story of them was appered in a newspaper in Germany, then it created a sensation.
Wilhelm I (1797-1888), the first German Emperor, knew the news, then he was deep-moved by the humanity of the islanders.
The Emperor send a naval ship to Miyako Island in 1876, and gave a monument as a sign of thanks to Miyako Island.

When the 26th G8 Summit was held in Okinawa in 2000, Gerhard Schröder, the Chancellor of Germany, conducted goodwill visit to Miyako Island.
Since that, this island is one of the centers of cultural exchange between Japan and Germany.

In Miyako Island, we can see the beautiful beaches and the spots associated with old Miyako and German.

The central area is Hirara district on the west coast, and has Hirara Port. (Now this port has no service of passenger ferry.)
And Miyako Airport is about 4 km southeast of Hirara district.

There are some resort hotels, and many small minshuku (Japansese style inn) or resort inns in this island.

Route bus is operated in the island. The buses run from Hirara to the various places in the island.
But they run only 3 to 7 times a day on each route.
To tour around Miyako Island, you had better rent a car or motorbike, or use a sightseeing taxi.

Main spots in Miyako Islands

  • Monument of Humanity from German Emperor /1/ : The monument given from German Emperor in 1876.
    It is located in the center of Hirara district near Hirara Port.
    On the monument, the story about the distress and rescue work is inscribed in German and Chinese.
  • Tomb of Tuyumya Nakasone /2/ : The old tomb located to the northeast of Hirara Port.
    Tuyumya Nakasone was the lord who unified Miyako Island in the late 15th century. He built this tomb for his dead father.
    It is designated as a nationally important cultural property.
  • Jintouzei Stone /3/ : An old stone pillar located about 1 km north of central Hirara.
    The height is 143 centimeters.
    "Jintouzei" means "head tax", and it is said that the people who were taller than the stone had to pay the tax.
    But it is said that the story was not true, so it is unknown why this stone was stood.
  • Sunayama Beach /4/ : The most popular beach in Miyako Island.
    It is located about 4 km north of central Hirara.
    "Sunayama" means "sand mound". We must pass over a hill of white sand to reach the beautiful beach.
  • Shimajiri Mangrove Forests /5/ : The mangrove forests along the coast of an small cove.
    It is located about 9 km north of central Hirara.
    The walking trails to see the forests are set up.
  • Cape Nishi-Henna /6/ : The northern and western tip of Miyako Island.
    It is located about 14 km north of central Hirara.
    About 2 km north to this cape, there is Ikema Island, and Ikema-Ohashi bridge is about 1 km to the east. Some large windmills for wind-power generation stand around this cape.
  • Ikema Island /7/ : A small island to the north of Miyako Island.
    We can visit this island across Ikema-Ohashi bridge 1,425 meters long.
    There is Ikema Marsh in the center of the island. Many wild birds come here.
  • Monument of five brave men in Hisamatsu /8/ : Japanese-Russo War started in 1904.
    Russia was going to move Baltic Fleet from Baltic Sea to Sea of Japan in May 1905. But Japan army didn't confirm where the fleet was navigating.
    At last, an observer in Miyako Island found the fleet around the island. But he had to go to Ishigaki Island about 100 km west of Miyako Island to report to the headquarter by telegraph.
    So five fishermen around Hisamatsu district crossed the sea by boat to send the message.
    They rowed the boat toward Ishigaki Island for 15 hours and ran to the telegraph station in Ishigaki Island for 5 hours.
    Finally, the important message was send.
    But the same information had already been delivered from the other patrol ship an hour before.
    Then, Japan won the war.
    About 30 years later, this fact was introduced and they were given a citation for bravery.
    And this monument was built.
  • Kurima Island /9/ : A small island to the southwest of Miyako Island.
    Kurima-Ohashi about 1,690 meters long connects both islands.
    There is Ryugujo Observatory, and we can see the scenery of the beautiful sea.
  • Ueno German Culture Village /10/ : The theme park introducing Germany culture.
    The museum, the house for children, and accommodation facility are in the site.
    In the museum, two pieces of doneted "Berlin Wall" are displayed.
  • Cape Higashi-Henna /11/ : A narrow cape about 2 km long at the southeast end of Miyako Island.
    Wild waves are washing the cliffs.
  • Yabiji /12/ : The broad coral reefs to the north of Ikema Island.
    It is one of the popular diving spots in Okinawa.
    Many boat tours are operated.
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 airplane

About 50 minutes from Naha Airport.

Monument of Humanity from German Emperor Tomb of Tuyumya Nakasone
Jintouzei Stone Sunayama Beach
Shimajiri Mangrove Forests Cape Nishi-Henna
Ikema-Ohashi bridge Ikema Marsh
Monument of five brave men in Hisamatsu A view from Ryugujo Observatory
Ueno German Culture Village Berlin Wall
Cape Higashi-Henna Boat to Yabiji passinf under Ikema-Ohashi
Yabiji Coral reefs around Yabiji

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