Today we edged even closer towards Taiwan on our second to last day in Japan. We docked at lovely Ishigaki Island in the southern part of Okinawa prefecture and were greeted by a team of local women dressed in Okinawan kimono and dancing to traditional music. The Ishigaki Highlights tour began at Minsa Kogei Kan, a craft center specializing in the Minsa weaving technique from Okinawa that dates to the 16th century. The next stop was Ishigaki Yaima Village, which showcases relocated Yaeyama-style traditional residences and is home to a large number of squirrel monkeys. After enjoying a local music and dance performance, we enjoyed a glass-bottom boat ride on Kabira Bay before returning to the ship for lunch.
Other groups enjoyed birding at Banna Park, riding in a traditional Okinawan fishing vessel called Sabani, or relaxing and snorkeling on Yonehara Beach. After lunch, shuttles offered a chance to explore the Ishigaki Town Center with its island vibe and fascinating confluence of Japanese, Chinese, and local Okinawan cultural influences.