Japan’s spectacular Yaeyama Islands lie at the southwestern tip of the country's island chain.
A world away from the capital city, here you'll discover pristine beaches, crystal clear aquamarine seas surrounding islands of jungles and mountains that uniquely define the character of these sparsely-populated outposts.
A visit to the Yaeyama Islands offers an experience unlike any other.
Adventures In The Yaeyama Islands
by Rob Dyer
The Ryukyu Archipelago
You might not be familiar with the Yaeyama Islands. They're part of the Ryukyu archipelago of islands stretching southwest from Kyushu, all the way down to Taiwan.
The better-known Okinawa is part of the Ryukyu chain. Well, the Yaeyama Islands lie beyond that. Ishigaki, the main administrative island for the group, is a 1 hour flight from Okinawa.
VIDEO: Okinawan Folk Music, Ishigaki Island
The 12 Yaeyama Islands
12 main islands make up the group:
See: Iriomote, Yubujima and Taketomi Triple Island Tour HERE
A 3 Hour Flight From Tokyo
To give you some idea of just how remote these subtropical islands are, Tokyo is a 3 hour flight away at best. While on a clear day Taiwan is visible from Yonaguni Island.
Or, to put it another way, Taiwan is just 67 miles from Yonaguni Island, whilst Tokyo is more than 1,200 miles away.
If you're looking for unspoilt isolation, beaches, waterfalls, crystal clear seas, mangrove forests, water buffalo pulling wooden carts, tradition, and a culture that's barely changed for hundreds of years, then this is the place for you.
Swimming or diving in the coral reefs found here you'll come across dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and white sharks.
See: Mangrove Canoeing and Jungle Trekking on Iriomote HERE
See: Scuba Diving Tour on Ishigaki Island HERE
A Different Language
They even have their own languages - Yonaguni and Yaeyama. Around these parts, Japanese is the second language.
They even have their own languages - Yonaguni and Yaeyama
Where To Stay In The Yaeyama Islands
VIDEO: Water Buffalo Cart Crossing to Yubu Island
Yaeyama Islands Travel Planning Services
Have some questions about exploring Japan's Yaeyama Islands? Want help planning a Yaeyama itinerary? The Real Japan offers some services that you might like to take a look at.
Further Japan travel guides, books and checklists are available in The Real Japan Travel Store.
Have you been to the Yaeyama Islands? If so please leave a comment below.
Travelling In Japan When You Don't Speak The Language
If you want to travel in Japan but don't speak the language, check out my guide book How To Travel In Japan Without Speaking Japanese.
About the Author
A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of TheRealJapan.com.
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Yaeyama Islands Tours
Scuba Diving Tour on Ishigaki Island HERE
Iriomote, Yubujima and Taketomi Triple Island Tour HERE
Ishigaki Half-Day Snorkeling Tour HERE
Mangrove Canoeing and Jungle Trekking on Iriomote HERE
Half-Day Bus Tour of Ishigaki HERE
Discover more about the Yaeyama Islands HERE
Browse accommodation in Yaeyama on Booking.com HERE