Kohama Island

Kohama island, which lies just 25 minutes from Ishigaki by ferry is another ideal day trip destination for island-hoppers. In terms of size Kohama isn't much bigger than Taketomijima, but in many ways the two islands have very different qualities. Kohama may not have a quaint village and its beaches aren't quite as impressive, but what it does have to offer are some of the finest views to be found in the Yaeyama archipelago, and for that reason alone it is worth a visit.

Kohama's Observation Points

This is where Kohama really shines. While Taketomi is flat and sits barely above sea level, Kohama has a rolling terrain, the result of which is two of the finest vantage points to be found in the Yaeyama archipelago.

Chura san's observation pointView of the coral-rich stretch of ocean which separates Kohama from Iriomote island

Chura san's Point

This viewpoint offers what is probably the best view of Iriomote island to be found in the archipelago.

>> Read more about Chura san's viewpoint

Ufudake

The highest point on Kohama island and the only spot from where the entire island can be viewed.

>> Read more about Ufudake

Beaches

Haimurubushi

The best beach on the island is probably the one which is found inside the grounds of the Haimuribushi hotel on the south east coast. It's much like Ishigaki's hotel-managed beaches in that it is clean, protected by a jellyfish net and is free to use for all. A range of water sports such as jet skiing are on offer, and beach equipment including parasols, inflatables and snorkel sets are also available for rental.

 
Haimurubushi beach
 
The only downside is that lifeguards will ensure that you swim within the designated area where the presence of safety nets naturally places limits on the variety of life which can be observed (a quality which many people find quite reassuring).

Toumaaru beach

Toumaaru is an extremely long beach which is located conveniently close to the ferry terminal. Unfortunately this is one of those spots which has been let down slightly by rubbish which has been washed in with the tide – buoys, plastic bottles, polystyrene etc. The sand isn't of the highest quality, but most visitors who bring along a towel will have few complaints.

toumaaru beach

Kiteboarding
 
Toumaaru beach has a reputation for being a quality kiteboarding destination and a flag displaying a kiteboard manufacturer's logo at the entrance to the beach would suggest that competitions have been held here.
 
Access
 
On leaving the ferry terminal turn left and head out along the main road. Take the first road on your left and proceed for a couple of hundred meters. You'll eventually see a bar on the left hand side of the road which resembles little more than a large shack. The entrance to the beach is found behind an open area which is complete with a picnic area and WC facilities. Note that the bar doesn't open until late in the afternoon, well after most day-trippers have begun making their way back to Ishigaki.

'Chura san' - the TV Series

Chura sanIf you see a crowd of Japanese tourists posing for photos in front of what appears to be a rather ordinary-looking old house in the centre of the village then it's more than likely that you've stumbled upon what used to be the set of the famous TV drama 'Chursa san'.

Kohama shot to fame in 2001 when NHK (Japan's national TV network) chose to base the popular daytime drama on the island. This inevitably led to a boom which saw a huge number of Japanese tourists flocking to Yaeyama to spend their 'Golden Week' on the island. However, as is always the case in Japan, what is hot today soon becomes yesterday's news, and tourist numbers have dwindled significantly over recent years.

For the average foreigner the sight of Japanese tourists getting so excited about standing outside one of Okinawa's most famous abodes is likely to be of more interest than the house itself. Aside from Chura san's house, Kohama's village offers little of interest, although there are a couple of small stores which offer basic amenities.

Getting around Kohama

Kohama's sights are dotted around the island and there are significant distances between. Keen walkers will be able to enjoy most of the island within a day trip, but be warned that the sunshine can be extremely intense during most of the year, and shade is a scare commodity. If you're brave enough to tackle the island on foot then remember to bring along water, a hat, and plenty of sun block.

Walking on KohamaExploring Kohama by foot on a hot summer's day can be quite challenging

Cars, mopeds and bicycles can be rented on the island, but it's worth bearing in mind that if you choose to go for a bike it's more than likely going to be one of the ubiquitous single-geared shopping bikes which are found everywhere throughout Japan.

If you plan on renting a car during the high season then be sure to book in advance in order to avoid disappointment on arrival.

 
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