Explore Iejima, a small paradise island with a surprising topography!
Iejima is part of the Okinawa archipelago and is just 9 km northwest of Motobu Peninsula.
With only twenty-three km², a peak of 172 meters high, Mount Gusuku, which stands almost in the center, alone, amid the flatlands, Iejima, has a rather surprising topography.
Sometimes called Peanut Island due to its shape reminiscent of a peanut, it is also a major producer of this oilseed.
It is also called the Flower Island for its abundant flora that attracts crowds, especially in April when parks and gardens are covered with lilies. A Lily festival is held to honour this flower.
A terrible past
But these friendly nicknames and charm of this small tract of land lying on the water masks a much less idyllic history.
During the Second World War, in April 1945, Iejima was the scene of four days of bloody battles where not only many Japanese and American soldiers died, but a large part of its inhabitants.
A famous American war reporter Ernie Pyle Taylor, was also killed and a monument was erected in his honor by the US military.
Ten years after the end of the war, the island's population still endured suffering. The US military confiscated the farmers' lands and expelled them.
It took several decades of bitter struggles for farmers to finally recover their property. Now Iejima produces, among others, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tobacco, tropical fruit, flowers, and peanuts.
Activities on the island
Iejima returned to being peaceful, we can - as in all the islands of the archipelago of Okinawa - practice snorkelling or diving. Bordered by a long sandy beach (Ie Beach) on the south coast and cliffs on the north coast of Waji, Iejima, despite its small size, offers varied landscapes.
The ascent of Mount Gusuku (called Mount Tachu by locals), with its strange shape, is one of the most popular activities for visitors. From up there, you have a 360 ° view. You should however be careful not to leave the marked trails, because Iejima (like most of the islands of Okinawa) is inhabited by a deadly snake known as Habu.
Nyatiya Cave, in the southwest, was made famous by a popular legend: it is said that infertile women heal if they can lift the rock that lies inside. The cave is also famous for having served as air-raid shelter to the population during the Second World War.
Iejima being only 30 minutes by ferry from the port of Motobu on the main island of Okinawa (Okinawa Honto) can be visited in one day.
Those who want to enjoy the variety of landscapes and activities, can choose between several minshuku (homestays) or a resort near the main beach Ie Beach.
It is possible to rent bicycles or cars at the port.