Okinawa Guide: Mount Nosoko, Ishigaki Island
Mount Nosoko 野底マーペー
When looking for hiking destinations on Ishigaki Island many people head for Mount Omoto in the north of the island. At 528 meters it is not only the highest point on Ishigaki, but also the highest point in the whole of Okinawa Prefecture.
If you are lucky enough to have a fine, clear day, the views from on top can be great, however atmospheric conditions are such that you are more likely to be disappointed by haze or low cloud. A much safer bet for views and also a much shorter hike is Mount Nosoko on the Hirakubo Peninsula further north.
Hiking Mount Nosoko
Approaching from either side of the mountain there is no mistaking its distinctive profile and the reason why 360 degree views can easily be had even though Mt. Nosoko is only 282 meters high.
The trail starts from a side road about 1 kilometer past the small settlement and Elementary School of Nosoko on Route 79. The trail is only about 2km, though the lower sections have a lot of clay and this can be treacherous after a rain.
Those preferring a slightly longer but easier walk can just follow the narrow mountain road to close to the peak from where a short trail can take you to the top. Once you reach the summit you will be among a cluster of huge, rounded boulders that are the source of the legend that gives the mountain its local name, Nosoko Maapee.
Maapee was a local girl who climbed the mountain to see the nearby island where her lover lived, but on reaching the summit was so heartbroken that the view to the island was blocked by another mountain (Mt. Omoto) that she turned to stone. From on top the views are stupendous. To the north you can see all the way up to the tip of the peninsula, on either side white sand beaches with turquoise blue seas, and inland to the highlands of Mount Omoto, it is easy to see why many people consider this the finest viewpoint on Ishigaki.
Mount Nosoko Access
The best way to access Mt. Nosoko, like most sites on Ishigaki, is by rental car. The trail head is just off the mountain road that leads off Route 79 about one kilometer past Nosoko.
The same road can be accessed from the other side on Route 390 about 2km north of Inoda Elementary School. It is possible to visit by bus, with the more frequent, though still not frequent, service running along Route 79 from Ishigaki City via Kabira Bay. If you do take the bus you will have plenty of time to enjoy the beach at Nosoko while waiting for the return bus.
Images by Jake Davies