About this blog
In my two years of living on Ishigaki island—one of the southernmost islands of Okinawa, Japan—I came across many interesting bars, cafes, and restaurants that are underappreciated by foreign tourists, partly because the owners keep a low profile, and partly because little information is available in English on the internet. This blog is dedicated to those of you who want a little extra than those written in the guidebook.
Writing a food blog is much harder than I imagined — all the research, communication with restaurant owners, food-tasting, photo editing, writing and those moments that you doubt anyone would be interested to know—but the rewards have surpassed my expectation. Not only about food, I get to listen to life stories of chefs and restaurant owners, which inspired me immensely. I owe this blog to these beautiful people who have been so generous in sharing their knowledge and experiences.
About the selection of restaurants
As much as I am willing to expand my list, it’s certainly not all-inclusive and is subject to my personal preference. It’s also limited in several ways: first, my active area is within 15km from my apartment so most spots here are located in central Ishigaki (but that’s also where most of the good foods are). Second, I don’t claim to represent the local view, but I do try to include many recommendations from my local friends. My last point, well, overall Ishigaki is a foreigner-friendly place, but there are still a few restaurants that prefer to stick with their regular guest, so I respect their choice.This list is by no means complete, but I hope they can serve as a starting point for your exploration.
※ Reminder: not all the restaurant staffs can communicate effectively in English. If you have trouble making a reservation, please ask the hotel staff to do that for you, and please do show up on time. Note that most restaurants do not have an English menu, and many do not accept credit card or provide parking lots (please check the end infobox of each restaurant report for more detail).
No man is an island entire of itself. This is especially true for people who live on the island—without a strong sense of community, it’s hard to imagine how islanders could survive the relentless nature, the rise and fall of regimes, and the economic shocks and opportunities in the globalized age. Islands may be geographically isolated, but they are connected to the outside world through sea routes, trading and exchanging cultures with its neighbors and beyond.
I was born in the island-country Taiwan. One might imagine that my fascination with island culture began there, but it was not true—sometimes you overlook things that are closest to you, as it has become part of you. I longed for the continents, traveling to Europe, the US, Russia, and China to learn about their language and cultures. But as life unfolds, I always seem to return to the islands—I spent my formative years in Taiwan, high school in New Zealand, University in Japan, and after graduation spent almost two years working on the Yaeyama Islands.
I worked in a hotel on Taketomi island, to which every day I commute by ferry from Ishigaki island – the transportation hub of Yaeyama islands. For an island of its size, Ishigaki island surprisingly vibrant, with local markets, restaurants, and bars concentrating in the downtown. All you need is a bicycle and you can get everything you need.
I started researching about the Island and was surprised to find out that Yaeyama Island chain, locating on the periphery of not only of Japan but also of the old Ryukyu empire, in many ways, resembles my home country Taiwan, which also lived under the shadow of empires. But what really inspired me was the people that I met here—not just the islanders but also people who moved to the island for all sorts of reason: to escape from a failed marriage, to live a self-sufficient life, or to recover from illness. Their struggles before and after coming to Ishigaki, their interaction with the locals and their unique philosophies provide me with a new perspective of thinking about life, and it also inspired me to go back to graduate school to pursue further study in cultural anthropology. I wish I could write their stories down to let more people know that they can always start again, in life and in many things, but that’ll be my next project.
Whatever led you here to my blog, I assume you are interested either in food or Ishigaki island. If you got a chance, do visit this amazing place, and I hope you will be as inspired as I am.