Tropical Japan: Adventures in Ishigaki 石垣島

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For the last week of natsuyasumi 夏休み (summer break) a couple friends and I headed off to Ishigaki Island 石垣島, one of the smaller less populated islands of Okinawa 沖縄, for a little adventure travel and R&R in paradise!

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Our journey began last Monday evening on the last bus to Osaka International Airport from Kobe. If you find yourself with a flight departing prior to around 10am (ours was 7:20am), shacking up overnight in the airport is the only way to hope to make it in time!
Although not being what one might think to be the most comfortable or classiest of nights, if you borrow some blankets from the information desk and find a nice dim spot it’s not a half bad way to grab a little shut eye.

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We opted to stay in a cheap little youth hostel called Iriwa on the inaka side of the island, although located a little far from society at only 2000円 a night who can complain! The website is below.
http://iriwa.org/about-english.html

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In order to compensate for our location, we rented a car from said hostel for the week to explore the island. At only 3000円 a day it lived up to our expectations of what you might receive from such an appropriately priced vehicle.

Seemingly held together with rust and duct-tape we soon named the little guy gokiburi kaa ゴキブリカー (cockroach car)!
As shortly after departing for the first time we were soon attacked by several cockroaches! this led to the conclusion that the only way to justify the number we encountered within the interior, was that a nest of the insects must have been hidden away in its rusted doors!

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With a car at our disposal exploring the island even from our some what remote location was no trouble. We spent evenings watching sunsets on beaches sipping cool beers, dinning upon fancy local cuisine and chilling in the common room of our hostel.
Days we explored ishigaki and its neighboring islands, some of exciting activities we got up to included swimming in waterfalls, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, canyoning and cycling! Basically ALLTHE EXERCISE!

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On a final note here is some of there awesome omiyage (gifts) I picked for my coworkers! These beniimo taruto 紅芋タルト (purple yam tarts) are particularly popular as local fare so I grabbed a box sparing a couple extra for my own nommings! Basically just a tart base with a fluffy purple sweetened yam filling, delicious town! It was hard to part with them when the time came to hand them out!

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Not that I have visited Naha yet but from why I have heard Ishigai offers a much more rural and isolated experience of Japanese island culture in Okinawa. To be honest there were times when I forgot I was in Japan all together, quite a lot of scenery and tired little towns looked like they belonged in south east Asia.

That’s not to say I don’t recommend the experience 100%, just bring a long a couple good friends, a pocket full of yen to burn and the spirit of adventure!

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2 thoughts on “Tropical Japan: Adventures in Ishigaki 石垣島

  1. Dear Tako-san,

    I am an aspiring JET teacher. I have taken a TESOL course from Anaheim University, and am fluent in Japanese, but otherwise have no teaching experience. I lived in Japan for two years to learn Japanese, but I didn’t teach at that time. I was wondering what suggestions you had for me to make myself look appealing as a JET candidate. I was considering signing up for the TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners) Certificate program from Anaheim University, and then I also was considering getting some good books on being an ESL teacher from Amazon, but I’m not sure which books work best. I want to be prepared for any eventuality, and know what to expect if I am interviewed for a position in the JET program. What games are great to use for teaching English? I thought that you would be a great reference for how I could make it into the JET program and how to be a good English teacher in general.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew

    • Hey Andrew,

      Good to hear you are interested in joining the program, it certainly is an amazing experience.
      I wrote a very detailed account of my application experience and the techniques I used 2 years or so ago you can find it in my archives.

      In regards to TESOL kinda stuff the general consensus is that it’s fairly useless when applying for JET. What your interview panel will be much more interested in is your personality and their judgement of how you will cope in Japan.

      Rather than reading books, show an interest in Japanese culture and being a good ambassador to your country (or at least make it seem that way).
      Join a Japanese cultural club like Kemdo or Taiko, volemteer teaching ESL at a local community center, etc.
      Most importantly get your reason for wanting to be a JET straight. Reasearch the program inside out, look up what they might ask you and create model answers for every one. Although you hear story’s of people who wrote their essay at the last minute, didn’t prepare at all for the interview and still get through.

      Why risk it, you have time, devote yourself to becoming the best applicant you can be.

      Good luck,
      Dan

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