ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort
Start with a nice breakfast at the SunCoast Cafe or the Japanese restaurant Yaeyama. Then go spend a few hours on neighbouring Taketomijima with a ride on a water buffalo cart inside the village. You can even have a bowl of Yaeyama soba (a local specialty) for lunch.
Once back at the hotel, try the snorkel tour. Or if you'd rather give yourself extra care, choose from one of the many esthetic courses offered and get ready for dinner.
For dinner, endulge in Ishigaki beef at the Teppanyaki restaurant Omoto. Or talk to the concierge team and they'll have plenty of suggestions about small places you can go to for some local food experience.
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, and of course Ishigaki, 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!