YAEYAMA islands

Star-sand shorelines to cushion along, waterfalls tumbling down emerald mountains, and not an officer in sight… its no big surprise that even Okinawans go teary when discussing the YAEYAMA ISLANDS (八重山諸島). Japan at long last fails out at this far-flung shower of semi-tropical islets, 430km south of Okinawa-Hontō and very nearly 3000km from northern Hokkaidō, and those lucky to such a degree as to make it this far are in for truly a finale. The awful news is that the Yaeyamas are no more open by ship, implying that you’ll need to take a flight from Naha or the territory – yet its justified, despite all the trouble, particularly in case you’re into plunging, climbing, kayaking or meeting “option” Japanese.

Most flights touch base at Ishigaki-jima, the most crowded Yaeyama island by a long shot. Voyagers have a tendency to base themselves here for comfort, yet while Ishigaki has its charms, you’d be frantic to come this far and not go that tiny bit further – a fifteen-moment ship ride away is minor Taketomi-jima, basically a stop edge of conventional Ryūkyū life, while somewhat further away is Iriomote-jima, pretty much altogether shrouded with wilderness and about as wild as Japan gets. Much more remote are Hateruma-jima, to the south, and Yonaguni-jima