Shimajiri in the north is the site of the eccentric festival “Paantu” which was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018. Every year during the ninth month of the lunisolar calendar, 3 Paantus, wearing masks and covered with vines and mud, visit villages and brush mud on houses and people to drive away evil spirits. Shimajiri is dotted with sacred places such as the “Uba Beach” where a mask washed ashore several 100 years ago, and the “Nmariga” where mud is collected.
- We recommend consulting with the hotel in advance, going on a tour with a local guide such as Mr. Kiyoshi Hentona, and taking lunch at Shimajiri Koubai Tenn in which you can see hand prints of the Paantus.
Nakabari Limestone Cave
15 minutes by car from the hotel, there is a prefabricated hut in the sugar cane fields. This is the entrance to the Ryukyu limestone cave. “Half of the tourists turn back because it looks a bit creepy.” says Mr. Katsuhiko Uezato, the owner of the cave. After passing through the hut and going down the 15 m cliff by stairs, you will find a surprisingly mysterious underground space. It is a special place where many Miyakojima locals don’t know its existence. Those who want to visit should make a reservation.
Mr. and Mrs. Sugama living in Miyakojima opened this place 8 years ago. It is an Okinawan izakaya where local people gather every night, and tourists are also warmly welcomed with the phrase “Nmyachi (Welcome)”. The most popular dish is the grilled Miyako-kyouri beef. You can make a reservation at the hotel.
Drive along the unpaved road in the corner of Irabu Island’s sugar cane fields and when you see the small sign, walk through the dense vegetation. Then you will find Nudokubiabu, a holy cave used as an air-raid shelter during World War II. Among many power spots, this is a special place that is said to be the strongest. It’s a must see.
A must-visit spot when driving around Miyakojima. The dynamic view of the sea and cliffs from this observation deck is breathtaking. Muiga means “spring water”. If you go down the cliff for 30 meters, you will find spring water that used to be used by the islanders for daily life.
Irabu Ohashi Bridge
This is a bridge with such a superb view that some people come to Miyakojima to cross this bridge. Completed in 2015, it connects Miyakojima and Irabu Island, and is 3540 meters long （which reads “sangonoshima”, play on words in Japanese for “coral island”）,making it the longest bridge in Japan that offers a free crossing. You can overlook the beautiful sea and bridge from the Makihara Observatory on the Irabu Island side.
Miyako Shimojishima Airport
Miyako Shimojishima Airport Terminal opened in March last year. It was designed by Aoyama Nomura Design（A.N.D.）of Nomura Co., Ltd., led by Ryu Kosaka, based on the concept “The resort starts from the airport”. It has a reputation as the most beautiful airport in Japan among architecture fans. There are cafes and shops, making it a great place to stop for a drive.