Iki and Its Stunningly Beautiful Ocean
While only 1 hour away by Jetfoil from Hakata Port of the busy Fukuoka City, Iki Island is surrounded by the emerald green ocean like Okinawa is, and offers exquisite views of the nature and many gourmet meals full of high-quality foods such as sea urchin, abalone and Iki Beef, all of which make this heavenly island an attractive destination filled with hidden gems and specialties.
Nishikihama Beach is known as the mecca of marine sports among numerous beaches in Iki, and boasts outstanding ocean water transparency. The beach sand is very granule, and the contrast of the blue color of the ocean, white color of the beach and green color of pine trees is breathtaking and definitely worth a look. A diving shop which also serves as a cafe-bar is available, and the taste of a cocktail while listening to the sound of the waves is exquisite, let alone unforgettable.
Iki Dolphins Park
Iki – An Island Reminiscent of Early Japan
The history of Iki Island is old, and in the Chinese history book about Japan «Records of the Three Kingdoms: Record of Gishi Wajin-den» written in the third century, Iki Island is referred to as «Ikikoku». During the Nara period (710 – 794), Iki was recognized as one independent country of «Ikikoku (country of Iki)», and Kokubunji and Ankokuji temples that existed in each country at that time were also built here. Sailing expeditions and envoys came to Japan through this island, passing on the continental culture from China through Tsushima and Iki. As can be seen, in those times Iki was already an established bridge between Japan and the continental China.
In the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333), the attack by the Mongolian army, which was known to be the strongest in the world then, gave devastating blows to Iki twice, and even today we can see many remnants of this era on the island. Iki is a unique and valuable place where one can witness and experience Japan during its ancient times through medieval years.
The Origin of Mugi Shochu (Distilled Spirit Made From Barley)
Iki is the birthplace of Mugi Shochu, with a 500-year history. In ancient Iki, rice cultivation was popular, which contributed to the development of sake production, thanks to abundant grain and high-quality groundwater for ingredients, and many farmers produced «doburoku (homemade sake)». Distillation technology came to Iki from the continental China between the Muromachi and Azuchi-Momoyama periods (1336 – 1603). During the Edo period (1603 – 1867), Iki islanders ate wheat mostly as their staple food rather than rice (rice is traditionally the staple food of Japan) due to heavy taxation under the ruling of the Hirado Domain. Homemade Shochu made by distilling leftover wheat and combining it with rice malt became the origin of Iki Mugi Shochu. The pride of the islanders being Japanese shows in their application of rice malt, which is traditionally used in Japanese sake-making.
In July 1995, the tradition and production method of Mugi Shochu were given protection under World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations as a “geographical indication”. Iki Shochu, which is now a world-renowned alcohol beverage designated with Geographical Indication, is produced by the island’s 7 distilleries according to its tradition and production method.