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Driving Iki: Indōji to Hara-no-tsuji, the ancient Yayoi settlement

(This is the first of a video series driving around Ikijima. I will be uploading more vids as I edit them.)

Iki is just a small island, only 17km long and 14km wide. Many of the attractions are outdoors, so when people visit, I would often take them on driving tours like this. On a beautiful day it is a pleasure to drive. And when it isn’t too windy, it is a great cycling destination, as there aren’t too many steep hills.

Today’s trip is from the port at the southeastern corner of Iki to the island’s famous model Yayoi village. Come along with me for the drive. Feel free to put on your own tunes while you watch in 4K and enjoy the beautiful May scenery of Ikijima.

Hara-no-tsuji was the main “city” of the Yayoi kingdom of Ikikoku. This settlement was discovered in 1904 and dates back to more than 2000 years ago. Being on a very wide plain and next to a river, this was a strategic place to settle.

The restored park area is one of only three Yayoi parks in Japan. I visited the massive Yoshinogari park in Saga (post forthcoming) which was very impressive, but Iki’s certainly has its charm. It is a lot more rough and raw. This is also a prime are for the flying of demon kites when the wind is up.

As you can see in the video, nearby is Hara-no-tsuji Guidance, a tourist information centre with an annotated model of the settlement and lots of information on the digs. It is built next to the ancient boat launch that was discovered. This was the landing place where foreign dignitaries would arrive after coming up the Hatahoko river. The tourism centre also hosts crafting events like making magatama, starting a fire with a bow and stick, glass bead-making etc. The restaurant serves set lunches with kodaimai 古代米 or “ancient” black and red rice. This hearty rice is grown just outside the centre in two rice fields. It looks very different than the modern white rice you see in fields all over Japan, and it tastes different too. I highly recommend catching lunch there.