Scene-setter: This 1968 cover of the Zombies’ “I Love You” is groovy perfection, and the surf-rocky vibe puts us in an Ishigaki state of mind.
Pound-the-table recommendation: If you visit Ishigaki and don’t find the beaches and the beef, that’s on you. But in order to set yourself up for success, lodge in the heinous-from-the-outside, but oh so charming and spare-on-the-inside Hotel Cucule which also happens to be across the street from the airport bus depot.
Back-pocket fact: In the 15th century, while Japan was doing their Shogun thing, Okinawa and Ishigaki and the surrounding islands were flourishing under the Ryukyu Kingdom. They had their own language (all but dead now), their own religion (which involved a priestess cult, always a plus), and traded extensively with both China and Japan. Eventually they were brought under Japanese control and forced to assimilate.