Culture

Haari Boat Festival

Haari festivalHaari is the first major festival of the year on Ishigaki island. Groups of fishermen race traditional Sabani boats up and down the port in this event which is steeped in tradition and local rivalry. 2013's event will be held on Wednesday the 12th of June.
 

Hounensai

During the 'Hounensai' period many festivals take place over Ishigaki with some of them being huge events which attract thousands of people.
 
In addition to the carrying of the traditional 'hatagashira' there are traditional dances, a tug of war, and the impressively choreographed 'tsunanumin' battle between two warriors.

Orion Beer Festival

Guitarist at the Orion Beer Festival.There are several live music concerts on the island throughout the year but this one which is sponsored by Orion beer attracts the biggest acts. It's held in one of the city center's parks and there is no admission fee.

Shiisa

If you wander around Ishigaki you're bound to notice an abundance of ornaments and statues presented in pairs which look like a cross between a dog and a lion. These are 'shiisa', and their origin can be found in an Okinawan folklore. A legend describes how a sea dragon was defeated by a brave islander who held a necklace decorated with a figurine in front of him as the creature approached. According to this myth, as soon as the dragon saw the shiisa a huge boulder fell from the sky and landed on its tail, which in turn led to its death...

Yaeyama Music Festival

This autumn festival may not attract the headline acts which the Orion Beer Festival does but it's just as enjoyable. Expect a wide variety of music from sanshin renditions to hard rock performances.