A dip in the blue sea
Yoron Island, Okinawa
Yoron Island is a tranquil getaway and a slice of Japan away from
the mainland that is different enough to make you think you're in another country.
Yoron is situated only 25 minutes north of Okinawa's Naha
Airport or is a slightly longer ferry ride from Kagoshima. The
island is filled with traditional villages, farms and has in abundance
the atmosphere of island life.
Yoron is the sister island of Greece's Mikonos and there is a
Greek village and even namesake Mikonos Street. You can pop
into one of the Greek cafes and experience some Greek favourites
like feta cheese and olives.
Back to the Okinawan heritage, the island boasts the Yoron
pottery or Adule pottery factories which keep local crafts thriving.
Although a Japanese island, Yoron has its own way of life.
This can be experienced when visiting one of the local villages.
Front gardens are replaced with a dozen cows, tractors replace
cars and it seems like the closest neighbour is at least ten
Beach town Chabana is located west of the island and features
all the aspects of town life. This is a great place to mix with the
locals and test out your Japanese. Izakiya and restaurants lie
around the harbour area to offer you different food choices including
Japanese, Chinese and other Asian cuisine. The town also
features a church, a few convenience stores and is central to
several nearby hotel resorts.
For water fun, choose from many of the beaches dotted around
the island. Yoron is a haven for water sports enthusiasts with a
diving shop or jetski to hire at every beach. North choices Chabana,
Merabi and Ukatchi beaches all offer diving opportunities and the
island is surrounded by coral reefs, which offer great snorkeling.
For a more tranquil experience, continue south past the
harbour to find Hakibina and Akasaki beaches. On the far South-
East coast, the famed Yurigahama beach can be found 1.5 kilometres
offshore and can only be visited when the tide is out.
Yurigahama is also known as the stardust beach because deposits
of dead plankton on the beach look like star-shaped sand.
The Kotohira Shinto shrine and the site of Yoron Castle are sightseeing
musts. The shrine can be seen from most of the south
coast as it stands proudly on the edge of a hilltop. This is a great
place to get a bird's eye view of the island and is also the venue
for the Yoron Full Moon Night Dance, which is performed three
times a year.
Close to the shrine, the site of Yoron Castle, which dates back
to the 15th century, reflects the island's historical link with
Okinawa and stands incomplete in honour of the Third Son of
the Okinawa King.
Yoron is easy to get around and the whole island can be covered
in a one-day trip. Bicycles and cars are available for hire but it is
fun to explore on foot and most locations are reachable without
So what lies in the future for Yoron-to? The island is currently
in the middle of a ten-year plan to promote information and the
environment. Locals and tourists alike are being encouraged to
keep the island as green as possible with maximum recycling
efforts and the information age has arrived with the installation
of broadband internet connections. Yoron is keeping up with the
times but is also preserving its idyllic posture in this simple and