If you would like to know what a traditional village would have looked like in old Okinawa, then you’re at the right place in Yaima Village on Ishigaki Island.
Here, you can find the authentic replica’s of over 6 Yaeyama Island style buildings as they would have been before modern times. But it’s not just the buildings that you’ll find here: the place is buzzing with people… and animals!
What we'll cover in this article
Yaima Village in Okinawa
Yaima Village is the southernmost theme park in Japan. There are many activities you can do here, so we highlighted our favourites:
There are many buildings on the site that you can visit: a couple of private residences (between 90-100 years old) that have been relocated and a replica of a fishermen’s house and a farm house. Make sure to inside as well!
Makishi Residence (relocated in 1980)
Ohama Residence (relocated in 2008)
A Sugar Mill
The Farm House
The Fishermen’s House
There are a couple of experiences that happen during the day, one of which being the music and dance show at ‘House Ashibi’. Shows vary and they are held about 3 times a day:
Don’t forget to take your shoes off!
Another activity that is great to do (you pay 500 Yen extra for this), is trying on a beautifully coloured Ryukyu-style kimono. Also for men and children!
Again, the socks of the person helping us into the kimono’s were perfect!
If you’re looking for more cultural activities in the park, how about (all on request):
- Sata Andagi making experience: Okinawa donut making (1100 Yen, 11AM and 2PM)
- Walking the Tansho path to the Nagura Anparu wetlands through the mangrove forest with a guide (3300 Yen, 12PM and 3PM, takes about 40 minutes)
- Shisha painting experience: paint your own plaster Shisha (little dog/lion statues) and get a great souvenir of your day (1300 for 1 statue, 2200 for couple, about 60 minutes)
- Island Sandal Arts experience: you carve your own images into a pair of flip flops (2200 Yen, about 3+ hours)
- Sea Shell Amulet making experience: decorate your own shell necklace (700 Yen, about 30 minutes)
Great for kids, but also for grown-ups, I’m sure!
Squirrel Monkey Garden
Ah, this was so cool! I was a bit scared that they would bite me or something, but the monkeys were super cute and just waiting around for someone to feed them :)
Make sure you have everything safely locked up in your bag though, they are QUICK!
Nick attempting a monkey-selfie
Give me FOOD!
But we made friends in the end :)
Our Tour Guide Yurika and her new friends ^_^
As the most recent addition to the park, the Nagurawan Observatory gives you a great view over the area:
We had a lovely morning at Yaima Village! If I would visit on my own, I probably would stay a bit longer to explore the buildings a bit more and have lunch or dinner at the restaurant, but in just two hours or so, we got a really nice look around. Definitely recommend a visit. It’s just 15 minutes from Kabira Bay and 20 minutes from the airport or the harbour, so perfect to do from or on the way to any of them.
Fun For: The whole family!
Less Fun For: I think everyone would like this, unless you’re not interested in a bit of history perhaps. If you’re scared of the monkeys, they’re in a seperate enclosure, so you don’t have to go in!
Think About: I am not sure of the level of English the people working in the park speak, but the brochure is in English as well as Japanese, so it’s easy to point to the pictures if you have questions. There is a clear map on it as well. You could also think about bringing your own food as there is a great field with grass where you can relax for a bit, although there is also a cafetaria.
oh, and don’t miss the souvenir shop for these amazing socks!!
Name: Ishigaki Yaima Village
Address: 967-1 Nagura, Ishigaki, Okinawa 9070031 Japan
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (last admission 5 PM)
Costs: 1000 Yen (Adults), 500 Yen (Kids)
Brochure: download here
Are you interested in finding more great tours and activities all over the world? Check The Travel Tester map:
Planning a Trip to Japan? Here are some great resources:
- Skyscanner – Find the best flights to Japan
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- World Nomads – Find the best travel insurance
- Get Your Guide – The most popular tours & activities around Japan
- ViaHero – Get help planning a trip to Japan from a local
- Magical Trip – Discover Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto at night with a local tour guide
- G Adventures – Group travel to Japan
- Intrepid Travel – Group travel to Japan
Disclaimer: We were kindly invited by the Okinawa Tourism Board to experience the hospitality, culture, food and nature of the Okinawa Island. All photos, opinions and love for little monkeys are 100% our own, as always.