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Tue, Oct. 9, 2018 Iki:Island of Beauty and Promise
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The island of Iki lies off the coast of Kyushu, facing out towards the Korean Peninsula. In ancient times, Iki was an important crossroads for international exchanges. These days the island is a modest paradise of unspoiled nature, with beautiful beaches, gentle landscapes and excellent seafood. Just an hour away from Fukuoka by high-speed ferry, it makes an ideal tourist get-away.On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Mai Rapsch explores Iki and meets some of the people who are keeping its traditional charm alive for future generations.

Tsutsukihama Beach
Tsutsukihama Beach
Iki boasts numerous white-sand beaches, both large and small, which are perfect in summer for swimming and other marine activities.
For more information, contact the Iki Tourist Association.
Tel: +81 (0)920-47-3700
Katsumoto Morning Market
Katsumoto Morning Market
This market traces its history back to the Edo Period (17th-19th century) as a place where goods were traded. Specialities include seafood and local produce.
Open: 8 a.m. to 12 noon
Address: 204-1 Katsumotoura, Katsumotocho, Iki City
Minatoya Guesthouse
Minatoya Guesthouse
This popular guesthouse, which opened in 2016, also offers a range of activities such as fishing and sea kayaking.
Address: 257 Ashibeura, Ashibecho, Iki City
Tel: +81 (0)920-40-0190
Harunotsuji Ruins
Harunotsuji Ruins
This is one of the largest archaeological sites in Japan dating back to the Yayoi Period (300 BC-300 AD), when rice farming and the use of metal tools were first introduced to Japan. The site is now a park that tells the history of exchanges with the Asian continent.
Address: 1092-5 Fukaetsurukifure, Ashibecho, Iki City
Tel: +81 (0)920-45-2065
Ikikoku Museum
Ikikoku Museum
Visitors can observe valuable cultural assets and artifacts that have been excavated in Iki.
Address: 515-1 Fukaetsurukifure, Ashibecho, Iki City
Tel: +81 (0)920-45-2731
To reach Iki from Tokyo, flights from Haneda to Fukuoka Airport take about 90 minutes. A 20-minute taxi ride will bring you to Hakata Port. From there, the jetfoil ferry service to Iki takes about one hour.
Travel Log

Traveler: Mai Rapsch > More Info


Occupation:Conference interpreter (German & Japanese)

Length of residence in Japan:about 2 years

Reason: To pursue a career I love in a place that lets me feel at home and offers great food.

Traveler's Archives:

> Toyama: A food culture rich in umami

I wouldn't describe myself as a religious person at all, but the moment I set foot on the beautiful Island of Iki, a somewhat spiritual feeling overwhelmed me. Everything seemed so profound: the different shades - sometimes emerald green, but also deep blue, turquoise, grey or even pitch black - of the ocean; the sound of birds and insects residing in the rich-green forests towards the inlands; the mystical aura of the countless shrines I passed while wandering around; and the sheer, breath-taking view of the sun rising from the ocean and coloring the entire sky…

There were numerous times when I just couldn't help but stop and take a deep breath, happy and grateful to be able to witness all of this natural beauty. Iki strongly and effectively reminded me of the fact that nature already provides the most essential ingredients for me to feel truly happy and satisfied.

Talking to the inhabitants of the island strengthened this impression. From the young elementary school kids who helped me build a scarecrow to the cute and talkative grannies at the local market - everybody seemed to love their life in Iki. Although roughly 500 people are leaving the island every year (while the total number of inhabitants is only 28,000 people), I didn't have the feeling that this island was suffering from this large-scale depopulation. This might be an overhasty and naïve conclusion, after just a short stay in Iki: but to me it seemed like everybody was deeply satisfied about their life on the island, and willingly open to share it with an outsider like me.

When I stayed at Minatoya, for example, a lovely guesthouse run by a young couple in a creatively renovated old house, I immediately felt so welcome - as if I had returned home from a long journey. The delicious dinner, prepared with local seafood caught by the owners, was not only served to the guests of the accommodation, but also shared among neighbouring families. When we all sat outside, laughing, eating and chatting under the clear sky, I just felt like being part of a huge family.

As I also learned during my journey, intercultural and personal exchanges have a long history in Iki, and date back to ancient times, when Iki functioned as an important hub for exchange between mainland Japan and neighbouring nations.

Today it is much easier to reach the island than in historical times. And I can only recommend everyone to visit this hidden gem, and be reminded that beauty and happiness do not necessarily need to be created, but just arise from nature and the openness of people.

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