Monkey Rock 猿岩 Saruiwa
This large rock on the west side of the island is around 20 minutes drive from Gonoura. Access is along narrow winding country roads, but it is well-signposted and is certainly worth the visit. From the carpark, you’ll immediately be able to see Iki’s most-famous primate. While facing the monkey, take a look up to your left. There’s a short 5 minute walk uphill to a look-out point. You won’t see the monkey from there, but you will get great views of the sea and island. From the carpark, walk along the road in a downhill direction for 50m and you’ll come to a large World War II gun position strategically positioned to protect the monkey from marauding Americans. The gun was never fired in anger and only the concrete shell remains as evidence of the cushiest WWII posting in the Japanese army.
Takanotsuji 岳の辻 Iki’s highest point (212m)
Sakyobana is a symbol of Iki Island - an interesting rock formation protruding from the sea on which a colony of cormorants have taken up residence and given the rock its distinctive white tint. As you face Sakyobana, head to the right to visit the tiny shrine and look over the impressive cliffs which drop steeply into the sea.
Shoni Park 少貳公園
A great little park by the sea shore next to one of Iki's biggest shrines. Walk down and clamber over the rocks protruding into the sea. When facing the ocean, to your right (south) you’ll see an observation tower overlooking the sea. Follow the path on the seashore round in that direction. The path is cut through tunnels and kids are likely to enjoy it. Unfortunately this is an area where the tides bring in a lot of refuse from the sea so it can be filled with discarded fishing nets and floats. Nevertheless the path heads round towards Iki shrine and in a small circle back round to Shoni park. There’s a good chance you’ll pass a sushi restaurant called Hogetsu. It’s on the road just 50 metres from Shoni Park car park. It’s excellent! Make a point of stopping in for lunch/dinner. Shoni Park is also a designated (free!) camp site with basic cooking facilities.
Iruka (Dolphin) Park イルカパーク
In the 1980s, Iki's fishermen were slaughtering dolphins - which they blamed for their reduced fish catches - on the beach of nearby Tatsunoshima. Captured on film by some American activists, the world-wide outrage was partially responsible for the fishermen halting their activities, and instead the islanders set up a dolphin park. The dophin park is in the north of the island just a few minutes drive outside Katsumoto Town. Entrance charge is just 200 yen for adults. Alternatively, you can purchase a 1000 yen (800 for kids) entrance ticket which allows you to feed and touch the dolphins (may require reservation on the day)
The venue has a mini-museum, and at 14:30 there is a fun class in Japanese teaching you about the dolphins.
The dolphin shows are at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00.
The dolphin park briefly features in the U.S. documentary film "The Cove" because Iki's Dolphin Park (and most dolphin parks in the country) allegedly purchase their dolphins from Taiji.
Devil's Footprint / Makizaki Park 鬼の足跡 ・ 牧崎公園
In the south west of the island, around 15 minutes drive from Gonoura town is Devil's Footprint. At first glance it looks like the sea has gradually eroded a footprint-shaped hole in the rock. But actually what happened was that a huge demon (oni) planted one of his feet here while he was trying to catch a whale. In case you're wondering the other foot was placed on Tatsunoshima, a small island just off the shore of Katsumoto Town in the north of the island which has a similar footprint feature. There are some steep cliffs from which you can watch the waves crashing in - especially impressive on windy days and with a bit of effort you can walk down to the sea across the volcanic rock down to the sea.
Ondake Shrine 男嶽神社 (男岳神社)
Situated in Ashibe, this shrine sits at Iki's 2nd highest point overlooking the north and east of the island. The "speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil" monkeys at the car park welcome you to the shrine. Go through the red Torii and following the creepy path up through the trees to the shrine. In the past, farmers prayed at the shrine for the health of their cows. Stone cows were left at the shrine in the hope that the new-born calves would be predominantly female (thanks to their reproduction value). For some reason, over time the cows became outnumbered by an amazing assortment of stone monkeys.
After you've seen the monkeys, walk down through the shrine complex to the observation tower where you overlook Ashibe and Katsumoto. Head a few metres down the slope and you'll find a path to the left which follows the edge of the hill back to the car park.
On the main road from Ishida to Ashibe at the bottom of the one major hill lies Ankokuji temple. It's convenient location and it's huge, ancient cedar tree make a short stop here worthwhile.
Iki Shochu Genkai Distillery 玄海酒造
Situated roughly half-way between Ishida and Gonoura on the main road, this distillery is marked by a several metre high shochu bottle. The free tour through the production centre takes you through all the processes involved in making the shochu. At the end of the tour there is a free tasting area with around 10 bottles lined up for sampling. Typically no one is on-hand to count how much you drink. If you're not driving and feel that you really must abuse this generous facility, do make sure you purchase some from the distillery shop too! They can package and ship the bottles anywhere in Japan. Some types of shochu come in fancy clay containers which look great on display in your home and make excellent souvenirs. Other distilleries on the island may also welcome visitors.
Haranotsuji 原の辻の遺跡 Haranotsuji no iseki
Archaeological Remains Harunotsuji is a flat plain between Ishida Town and Ashibe Town. The area has provided important insights into life during the Yayoi Period of Japanese history (approx 300BC - 300AD) and has been designated as a site of National Historical Interest. The island's local government have put considerable effort into developing the site, culminating in the opening of an impressive new museum in Spring 2010. Although much of the historical detail is displayed only in Japanese, there are more than enough artifacts and exhibits to make the visit interesting to non-Japanese speakers. Apparently the Harunotsuji area is the 2nd largest flat plain in the whole of Nagasaki Prefecture, which since it's not actually that huge, is a good indication of the mountaineous character of the Prefecture.
Yunomoto is the island's hot spring village resort. The water is a superb dirty brown colour - (the kind where you know you are in an onsen and not just a fancy bath!). In total there are 17 hot springs in the village and most, if not all, are happy to have day visitors (i.e. those who are not staying at the attached hotel). For most people one or two will be enough, but for those with onsen-mania, there is a pass for 1500yen entitling you to visit 7 different hot springs. Most of the hot springs charge between 300 and 1000 yen and generally you pay for what you get. If you're stuck for which to choose, Hirayama near Yunomoto village centre is very good value.
This uninhabited island, just a few hundred metres off the coast of the northern port of Katsumoto has a stunning beach and some amazing rock formations. An hourly ferry runs to the island during the tourist season and a cruise boat takes you on a 40-minute cruise around the island for the best views of the local geology.
Iki Country Club (Golf course) 壱岐カントリー倶楽部
Beautiful but challenging 9-hole course in Katsumoto
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As you might expect, the beaches on Iki are one of the main attractions for visitors.
Arguably the best, and certainly the most popular beach on the island. The white sands stretch for 600m and the sea is shallow, making this a great place for both kids and adults to enjoy. In the main tourist season approx July-Sept there are eating and drinking stalls set up and various water sport activities. There are also BBQ and camp facilities right next to the beach.
Popular with surfers and windsurfers.
Nishikihama 錦浜 Location: Ishida
Used to be one of the quieter beaches, but can sometimes get a bit noisy due to the water sports centre Hawaii which is based here. Hawaii provides various activites including banana boats, jet skiing and scuba diving as well as food and drink. It's a good place to get out of the sun while enjoying a gin and tonic. The sharp drop in the sandy sea floor make this beach unsuitable for young kids and non-swimmers.
Twins Beach ツインズビーチ
Two small beaches situated next to each other with water sport activites available.
500m in length, popular year-round with surfers. It is an impressive looking beach, though it's natural beauty is somewhat diminished by the concrete tetropods piled up in the sea.
Accessible only by small ferry from Katsumoto harbour during the tourist season, the beach and surroundings are gorgeous. There are showers and toilets on the island.
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