Okinawa Tourism Information:AllYouNeedis[Co.RAL]toSearchRoutesandEventoPurchaseTickets.OfftoIriomoteIsland!

All You Need is [Co.RAL] to Search Routes and Even to Purchase Tickets. Off to Iriomote Island!

post : 2020.01.23 08:00

MaaS (Mobility as a Service), a transportation system service, began its testing in November 2019. It’s Yaeyama version of the service is called Co.RAL, and this is what I utilized for my trip to the Yaeyamas. Through Co.RAL, you can do route searches for transportation services on Ishigaki, Taketomi, and Iriomote Islands, and you can also purchase tickets, too. After touring Ishigaki Island by taxi on my first day of the trip, I headed to Taketomi Island for my second and last day of my solo trip to the islands!


I boarded a ferry going to Ohara Port on Iriomote Island that was departing Ishigaki Port at 8:30 AM. Again, I showed the crew the e-ticket on my smartphone and boarded the boat.

After about 40 minutes, we arrived at Ohara Port, where Yamaneko Rental Car staff came to meet me. I had reserved a rental car through Co.RAL, and so, I was ready to go! First, I decided to take a ride on a pleasure boat at Nakama River.

I had heard that there was a one-hour jungle cruise tour offered by Marine Leisure Kanamori, and I so I joined the tour. I boarded the boat and in no time, we were heading upstream on the river. Eventually, the river became more and more narrow, and we were passing by mangroves that grew very close by. We were really in the jungle.

Along the way, we were told about “a very large tree” and got off the boat…


It was indeed a very large tree. This Sakishima Suounoki or also known as Looking Glass Tree, was magnificent and divine. The developed lower part of the tree is referred to as buttress roots, and in the past, people used them for cutting boards and washing boards. After the exciting visit to the jungles of Iriomote Island, I headed straight for the western region of the island.

Apparently, the distance to the western part of Iromote Island, to the vicinity of Uehara Port, was approximately 40 kilometers from where I was. I enjoyed a leisurely drive through the jungles, and along the way, I spotted signs on the road that said, “Neko Chuui” meaning “Beware of Cats”. The cats on the signs meant the Iriomote Yamaneko, a native species of wildcats that are critically endangered. I hope to someday come across one in their habitat.

I arrived at the Uehara community just around lunchtime, so I decided to head over to Laugh La Garden, where I heard they serve great burgers. From their wide selection of burgers and set menus, I chose their “Island Gurukun (bananafish) Filet O'Fish Burger & Potatoes Plate”. Gurukun is a type of white fish and is the prefectural fish of Okinawa.


I took a bite of this big burger and was delighted with the juicy filet of fish that was fried perfectly to give it a crispy outer texture. I was told that the Gurukun they serve are caught off the waters of Iriomote or Ishigaki Islands.

Once my appetite was satisfied, I decided to visit an old coal mine from the beginning of the Showa era (which began in 1926). After about a 10-minute drive, I arrived at the entrance to the coal mine site, right at the banks of the Urauchi River. From the entrance, it’s about a 25-minute hike through the mountain trails along the river, but the trail isn’t a difficult walk. It was a nice and easy hike through the lush forest. 

As I strolled along the rich greenery of the subtropics, I came across many types of vegetation I’d never seen, and became friends with a lizard. When I arrived, I found this spot with a unique atmosphere.

The place was like something out of a Ghibli animation, or like somewhere in Angkor Wat… During the time when people worked at this coal mine decades ago, there was a whole village here with a population of about 300 residents, working and living in this area. Apparently, they even had a little playhouse here, too. Today, the only signs remaining from the past were these brick columns that supported the trolley tracks. I was intrigued at seeing and learning something about Iriomote Island’s past that I didn’t know about.

My next destination was Cape Unari-zaki Park, where I had learned that the ocean view was spectacular.


It took about 10 minutes to arrive at this park which was situated right along the coast. The ocean view was certainly beautiful.

Then, it was time for me to head back to Ohara Port to board the boat to take me back to Ishigaki Island (although Uehara Port was closer than Ohara Port from where I was, the waves were rough on the day that I went, so all the boats departing from Uehara Port were canceled). I drove across the island with the breathtaking view of the seas and mountains, the rich jungles, and the magnificent nature of Iriomote Island before boarding the boat departing Ohara Port.

All the reservations and transportation were very smooth, thanks to Co.RAL, and I was able to thoroughly enjoy my first trip out to the Yaeyama Islands. I definitely wanted to come back. Next time, I’ll go when it’s hot so I can go swimming in the ocean and enjoy various activities offered there!

Laugh La Garden
Address: 2F 550-1 Uehara, Taketomi Town, Okinawa
Telephone: 0980-85-7088
Hours: 11:30 to 13:30 (Last Order) & 18:30 to 20:45 (Last Order) *Hours change according to season.
Closed: Thursdays

Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Masumi Sasamoto