Best Souvenirs to Buy in Ishigaki
Ishigaki, one of the popular destinations in Japan’s Ryukyu Islands chain, mostly attracts Japanese tourists and a few foreign travelers wanting to get off the usual tourist track. For those brave enough to do so, Ishigaki offers crystal clear waters, ancient Okinawan history lessons and plenty of adventurous activities to fill out your vacation. So what should you bring back as a souvenir from Ishigaki? Here are my top picks for souvenirs found in Ishigaki…
Hoshizuna Star Sand
Hoshizuna is a popular beach on the northern coast of Iriomote Island, about a 50-minute ferry ride from Ishigaki Island. What is so awesome about the sand on Hoshizuna Beach is that it is shaped like mini stars! Apparently, the shape is from the tiny skeleton shells of single cell organisms (Baclogypsina Sphaerulata, to be exact). Have a fun time at the beach and take some sand on the way out, or easily find it at tourist shops around Ishigaki and the Yaeyama Islands.
Shikuwasa is a tropical fruit grown only in Okinawa. It is a mix between a lemon and lime, and is delicious in chuhai alcoholic drinks and as fresh-squeezed juice. Most shops will sell nice bottles of shikuwasa concentrate for a pretty expensive price (like $20 for a glass bottle), but I was able to find a generic bottle for cheap at the local grocery store in Ishigaki. I plan on mixing it with Japanese shochu alchohol for homemade chuhai drinks or with some tequila and ice for a Okinawan twist on a margarita!
Another liquid to take back home for a souvenir “alco-haul” is Ishigaki’s own Awamori liquor. It is similar to Japanese sake and shochu, but is still in a league of its own. Drinking Awamori brings one back to the beaches of Ishigaki in one sip. It smells like the salty beach air of Okinawa, but goes down like water without the usual alcohol after-burn. It is seriously some of the best liquor to sip on slowly with ice. My favorite flavors were ginger and ume (Japanese plum) Awamori blends, but you can also find plain and yuzu (Japanese citrus) flavors too.
Salt is a common natural product throughout the Okinawa (Ryukyu) Islands, and there are a few salt product stores around Ishigaki. Stock up on salts for cooking orbathing purposes, or try some of the famous Ishigaki salt cookies! Okinawa’s local ice cream company, Blue Seal, often offers salt cookie flavor ice cream at its shops and it is devine!
Lululun Shikuwasa or Goya Face Masks
Lululun face masks can be commonly found throughout Japan, but in Ishigaki they offer a special edition face mask pack! Choose between shikuwasa or goya face masks, both are Okinawan grown produce with special benefits for every woman’s beauty regimen. Each Lululun face mask box has five packs inside that have seven days worth of face masks inside each pack (Confusing? Think 1:5:7). I bought a box and ended up giving out face mask packs to my friends (and saved one for myself!).
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