Anything but icky.
Despite sounding similar to the English word “icky,” Iki Island is the opposite of anything unpleasant. Located in the Tsushima Strait, north of the mainland of Nagasaki, Iki is actually an archipelago made up of several inhabited and uninhabited islands.
Iki has a long, fascinating history. People have called Iki home since prehistoric times and artifacts have been found dating as far back as the Jomon period (14,000 – 300 BC). Burial grounds that date back to the Kofun period (250 – 538 AD) have also been uncovered. You can learn more about the island’s history and see several of the objects discovered by visiting the Iki City Ikikoku Museum in southeastern Iki.
Hoping to lie back and get a nice tan? Possibly even go surfing?
Or perhaps grabbing a snorkel and an air tank is more your scene? Iki has you covered. Noted for its clear, blue waters and white sand beaches, the island has several beaches to choose from.
Tsutsukihama beach, Ishida, is one of the most popular beaches, with campgrounds nearby available for rent. Surfers will likely want to hit up Kiyoshihama beach, Ashibe, or Ohama, Ishida. For diving and other water sports, head for Nishikihama beach, Ishida, or Twins Beach, Gonoura.
Iki Island is noted not only for its great beaches and history, but also its spiritual presence. The island has 150 registered Shinto shrines. Additionally, you’ll likely spot little stone statues in sets of seven placed near the sea. These statues of the Buddhist deity Ksitigarbha are called “jizo” in Japanese and are said to be the protector of women and children.
Don’t miss Iki’s Saruiwa, or Monkey Rock. Found along the western edge of the island, the rock’s formation looks like a sitting monkey. This seems fitting as in northeastern Iki, you can see about 230 stone monkeys placed for prayer and luck at Ontake Shrine.
For panoramic shots of Iki’s lush landscape, you can hike or drive up to Mt. Takanotsuji to reach Iki’s tallest point. Located in southern Iki, it stands at 212 meters.
Local food favorites include beef, if you don’t mind splurging, and fresh seafood. Of the latter, they’re especially known for their ika (squid) and uni (sea urchin). Iki not only produces its own beef, but also it’s own mugi shochu – an alcoholic beverage distilled from barley and typically known for its high alcohol content. Several of the distilleries offer tours, which happily include tastings at the end of the tour.