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Photo By: PIXTA/ genki
Ryukyu Islands
Largest City

Taketomi Island (Taketomijima)

Ride a water buffalo and learn about Okinawa’s Ryukyu culture

By Elizabeth Sok

Long before Okinawa and the surrounding islands were colonized by Japan in the 19th century, the Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent state that forged relationships with China, Taiwan and Japan, and had its own language and culture that were both distinct and influenced by its powerful neighbors. As a part of the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Taketomi Island or Taketomijima is an effort to preserve Ryukyu culture.

Visitors to the island will see the characteristic red-tiled roofs which became emblematic of Ryukyu culture during the twentieth century and shisa, the mythological lion-like figures that stand guard on houses and buildings.

Activities in Taketomi

Taketomi Island

Photo by: PIXTA/ スカイウォーター Learn more about the island while on a water buffalo-drawn carriage.

As you disembark, you’ll have a few options as to how to get around the island’s five square kilometers. At about six kilometers in length and taking around two hours to complete, the Taketomi Island Natural Education Walking Path is a great way to see the island at your own pace. Along the way, you’ll be able to hit up the most popular spots, including the Taketomi Folk Craft Museum, Taketomi Village, Kaiji and Kondoi Beaches, as well as bask in the beautiful nature Taketomi has to offer.

If hiking is not your cup of tea, how about a thirty-minute tour of the village and the surrounding area while being pulled by a water buffalo? Guides will give information about the island’s history and culture, and treat you to music played on the sanshin, a traditional Ryukyu instrument.

Kaiji Beach

Taketomi Island

Photo by: PIXTA/ 空 Crystal clear waters

Okinawa is known for its spectacular beaches and Taketomi is no exception. Kaiji Beach is best known for its sand which appears to be in the shape of stars. While certainly a unique sight and one which you can purchase a bottle of at local shops, this sand is actually the shell remains of tiny marine organisms called foraminifera. However, please don’t take any sand away from the beach yourself as it is forbidden.

Although the strong currents at Kaiji Beach mean that you cannot swim there, Kondoi Beach is perfect for a dip. Whether you have your own snorkel or need to rent one, underwater exploration is welcome. With its white sandy coastline and pristine blue waters, you’ll have plenty to enjoy in and out of the water.

Things To Know


The tours start from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and cost ¥2,000

How To Get There


By boat

Taketomi Island is accessible only by ferries which leave from Ishigaki Island’s ferry terminal. Departures start as early as 8:45 a.m. and as late as 5 p.m.

The cost for a roundtrip ticket is ¥1,340.  

Where To Stay

Hotel Peace Island Taketomijima
  • 112-1 Taketomi, Yaeyama-gun Taketomi-cho, Okinawa, 907-1101 Japan
  • ¥23,500 - ¥23,500
  • 4.26/5 (232 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island
  • 1955 Taketomi, Yaeyama-gun Taketomi-cho, Okinawa, 907-1101 Japan
  • ¥117,394 - ¥322,452
  • 4/5 (29 reviews)
  • 1.0 km
Beach Hotel Sunshine Ishigakijima
  • 2484 Arakawa, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa, 907-0024 Japan
  • ¥19,800 - ¥125,400
  • 4.43/5 (199 reviews)
  • 4.8 km
Grandvrio Resort Ishigakijima Villa Garden
  • 2481-1 Arakawa, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa, 907-0024 Japan
  • ¥26,219 - ¥162,137
  • 4.49/5 (804 reviews)
  • 4.8 km
Nuchigusui no Yado Coco (Ishigaki Island)
  • 1585-134 Arakawa, Ishigaki-shi, Okinawa, 907-0024 Japan
  • ¥19,264 - ¥35,584
  • 4.5/5 (21 reviews)
  • 5.2 km

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