Taxis are safe and abundant in the downtown area of Ishigaki. Not many drivers speak English so if you need help, please come to the resort center/concierge desk and we'll be happy to help.
DID YOU KNOW ?
A little bit of history
What is now the prefecture of Okinawa used to be the independant kingdom of Ryukyu until 1609 when a clan from southern Japan invaded the islands. Until then, Ryukyu was in the center of trade between South-east Asia, Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan, and as such, had a distinct culture. Although nowdays considered a part of Japan, there are still important remnants of a non-Japanese culture which together with its geographical location make Okinawa a different Japan inside Japan.
Papayas are often thought of as fruit, and of course they are. But the people of Ishigaki and Okinawa eat them more as a vegetable than as a fruit. Unripe green papayas are peeled and cut to be pickled, cooked in stir fried dished or used in simmered dishes. This is why when you go to the local market, you'll see more green unripe papayas than yellow ones. The taste? Not bad at all! Try a dish while you're here!
If you're into tofu, you'll want to try the local tofu while you are here. It is much firmer than the Japanese tofu and is great in stir-fried dishes. Tofu no Higa is one of the oldest tofu shops: they make it daily and you can also eat it there. BTW, the local tofu is called shima-dofu (or island tofu).
Latitudes and distances
Did you know that Ishigaki's latitude is 24.33 degrees? Honolulu's is 21.26 and Miami's is 25.72! See how tropical we are !! And about distances: Ishigaki is 2,000km from Tokyo but a mere 275km from Taipei in Taiwan! Wow!
WHAT TO PACK
Renting a car is s GREAT way to visit the island of Ishigaki. Roads are nice and not crowded. But if you're considering renting a car, an international driver's license is a must (one issued under The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic of 1949. Japan has not ratified the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968 so licenses issued under this convention are not valid). Tourists from France, Germany and Switzerland may rent a car if they have an official translation of their licenses (no translation provided by the hotel). Word of advice: check with Japanese embassies in country of origin to see what is needed to drive a car here.
Ishigaki, and surrounding islands, are in a sub-tropical area. Sun block, sunglasses and hats are musts, especially during the summer. You can purchase some here but bringing your own is simpler.
Cash or card ?
Most larger establishments will accept credit cards but smaller shops and restaurants only take cash. Best to have with you Japanese yen when you arrive in Ishigaki; next best thing is US dollars. And if you need to withdraw cash from your credit card, you must go to the main post office in town where there are ATMs that will accept non-Japanese issued credit cards.
Well Plugged ?
Electric power in Japan is 100 volts and 50 or 60 hz. North American standard grounded and non-grounded sockets are used. You may want to bring your own adapters for your electrical appliances: check first in country of origin to make sure you bring the correct equipment. And don't forget your cell phone and digital camera battery chargers as well !
Bring your own
Of course, there are supermarkets, drug stores and stores that sell clothing in Ishigaki. However, best bring things you are accustomed to use (especially medication). You may buy clothing here but sizes are rather limited and you may not be able to find exactly what you need.