Yonaguni Island Circumnavigation - Solo
City Yonaguni Island
Email Steven Munatones at firstname.lastname@example.org
Month: Fall, Spring
• Location: Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, Japan (the southwesternmost point in Japan, near Taiwan)
• Course: Demanding swim around incredibly beautiful tropical island near Japan and the westernmost point of Japan
• Distance: 18 miles (29K)
• Date: Attempts generally made in spring or late fall, preferably October
• Description: Population of island is under 1,700 people. Thousands of hammerhead sharks congregate near tips of island within view of swimmers. Water temperature about 80°F (26.6°C) where the first circumnavigation of the island was completed in 1993 by Steven Munatones of Huntington Beach, California in 7 hours and 8 minutes.
Yonaguni (Japanese: 与那国島 Yonaguni-jima) is one of the Yaeyama Islands and the westernmost inhabited island of Japan. It is the last of the Ryukyu Islands chain, and lies 108 kilometers (67 miles) from the east coast of Taiwan, between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean proper.
The island has an area of 28.88 km2 (11.15 sq miles), an annual mean air temperature of 23.9 °C, and annual precipitation of 3000 mm. All islands are under jurisdiction of the town of Yonaguni, Yaeyama Gun, Okinawa and there are three towns: Sonai, Kubura and Higawa. It was incorporated under the control of the Ryūkyū royal court in 1610.
Yonaguni, more specifically Cape Irizaki 24°26′58″N 122°56′01″E / 24.44944°N 122.93361°E / 24.44944; 122.93361 at the western tip of the island, is the westernmost point of Japan. Taiwan is be visible from Cape Irizaki on a clear day.
In the 12th century, it was incorporated to the Ryūkyū Kingdom. In the 17th century, it was incorporated into the Japanese han of Satsuma. By 1879, the island was formally incorporated into Japan. Until the early 20th century, Yonaguni was part of the larger Yaeyama village, which included the neighboring Yaeyama Islands. In 1948, it became an independent village. From 1945 to 1972, it was occupied by the United States and was then returned to Japan to form a part of Okinawa Prefecture.
Yonaguni is known in Japan for the hanazake, a 120-proof rice-based distilled beverage (awamori) produced only on the island. The island is also the only natural habitat of a distinctive horse breed, the Yonaguni horse. Yonaguni is a popular attraction for divers because of the large numbers of hammerhead sharks that gather in the surrounding waters during winter.
In the 1980s, local divers discovered a striking underwater rock formation off the southernmost point of the island. Yonaguni Monument has staircase-like terraces with flat sides and sharp corners.