Just 70 minutes by hydrofoil from Fukuoka
It’s the beaches!
Any time of year is a good time to visit Iki, but it’s summer, so let’s hit the beaches, and Iki has some of the best in Kyushu. And by best we don’t just mean beautiful, but the sand, made from shells, not coral, is silky smooth and easy on the feet. Speaking of shells, Iki’s beaches are also a treasure trove for shell collectors. With more than thirty beaches to choose, whether you’re into swimming, kayaking, SUP or snorkeling, Iki has you covered!
Zipping Around Iki
Iki is about the size of Liechtenstein, and if you were to drive around the island it would take about two hours. But there’s a better way to get around – the Iki Chari electric-assisted bicycles! We were amazed at how effortlessly they climbed hills, even with carriers filled with luggage. With a fully charged battery you can travel from 28 to 176 km (depending on the model). Enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of Iki and get a little exercise in without breaking a sweat.
• Available at Gonoura, Ashibe and Indoji port ferry terminals
• 4 hours ¥1,000, 8 hours ¥2,000, 16 hours ¥2,500, etc.
No tent? No problem. Go glamping!
Like most people, we went to Iki to see and experience beautiful nature. So when we heard that glamping (glamorous camping) was offered on Nishikihama Beach, we were all in! The sturdy tents were set up on wood decking, shaded by pines trees and fitted with beds and even electricity. Showers and toilets are just steps away. But the best part was waking up to a beach to ourselves and a magnificent sunrise followed by a full breakfast served on our private deck. Glamorous indeed!
• Glam Beach: standard tent (up to 2 persons)
• ¥21,600~/person, etc.
Tatsunoshima Sightseeing Cruise
Iki is already very remote, but for those who want to really get away from it all, we recommend spending a few hours on the uninhabited island of Tatsunoshima. Its spectacular rock formations, sparkling sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are legendary, and for an impressive view be sure to climb up the Jagatani Cliff.
• Tatsunoshima Sightseeing Cruise
• Mar. ~ Nov. 30
• Cruise only (approx. 40 min.): adult ¥1,500, child ¥750, cruise + landing: adult ¥2,000, child ¥1,000
After all the cycling, sightseeing and frolicking on beaches, we deserved a drink! Iki, as it turns out, is the birthplace of mugi-shochu (barley distilled liquor). As far back as the 16th century, locals began using barley to produce shochu. Today there are seven breweries on the island and many offer distillery tours. Not only did we learn about the history and processes, but we enjoyed some free tasting and bought some shochu not available elsewhere.
• Iki no Hana Distillery
• Open 9:00-17:00 (tours by appointment)
Matt Sueda was born in Hawaii and has lived on Iki since August 2017, where he works as the coordinator for international relations at the city hall. Exploring the island has become a passion!
“Accessibility to Fukuoka is great, and yet Iki feels worlds away from the bustle of the city. The air is clean, the 30+ beaches here are the nicest I’ve ever been to, and the quality of the locally sourced food is top notch. There are many opportunities for visitors to engage with Iki people and immerse themselves in the unique local culture. Here are some of my recommendations.”
For a souvenir: Yuzu Kosho Paste
This zesty condiment is made from Iki’s aromatic yuzu citrus peel, chili peppers, and salt, which are aged to sharpen the flavors. Yuzu kosho is used as a condiment for hot pot dishes, sashimi, natto, and more. A little goes a long way, so a small bottle makes an ideal souvenir to share with friends.
To eat: Iki Beef
Locally raised calves have a national reputation in the Japanese black cattle “Kuroge Wagyu” market; they are known for the excellent quality and tenderness of their meat. Cows are raised on mineral-rich pastures created in the island’s salty sea breeze, which is said to be one of the keys to the deliciousness of Iki beef.
To learn more: Ikikoku Museum
Opened in 2010, this facility is a great place to learn about the history and material culture of Iki. Exhibits trace Iki’s history back 2,000 years to the Yayoi Period, demonstrating how the island may be understood in terms of its relations with Japan, mainland China, and the Korean peninsula.
Discover Iki Tour
2-days & 1-night (September 2018)
Includes your choice of one of these three activities and the “Dine by the Beach”
1. Cycling tour
2. Food making experience and brewery hopping
3. History of Iki and Iki tour
The “Dine by the Beach” event. Local chefs prepare a special meal made using local ingredients at a seaside location with a great view. Enjoy this very unique experience!
For more information, reservations, including dates and fees: suito.inboundhub.jp
Iki Day @ Suito
Now you’re interested in Iki, join this event in Tenjin to experience Ishu tofu making, accessory making, Iki shochu sampling and more!
• 7/7 (Sat.)
• Suito Fukuoka, 3F, 1-15-27 Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Getting to Iki
Hydrofoils and ferries depart from Bayside Place Hakata Wharf in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka.
(Note, the hydrofoil and ferry use different docks)
• Hakata Port to Ashibe Port: hydrofoil (65 min.), ferry (130 min.)
• Hakata Port to Gonoura Port: hydrofoil (70 min.), ferry (140 min.)
Hydrofoil & Ferry Information: www.kyu-you.co.jp/en
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn235, Jul. 2018)