Iriomote Island lies about 200km east of Taiwan. Its lush rainforests cover 90% of the Island. The goal of this project is to advocate for the protection of the precious ecosystem and cultural heritage of Iriomote Island to preserve them for future generations. To this end, we will promote four key actions as the core themes of the project. These are to learn, protect, discuss and conserve.
“Let's learn how to walk with care for the natural environment and ecosystem of Iriomote Island and learn about its traditional culture.”
“Let's follow the rules and be contentious to protect Iriomote's sea, mountains, rivers, and the wildlife that lives there.”
“Let's spread the word about the natural wonders of Iriomote Island and the present challenges they face.”
“Let's conserve the abundant nature and unique cultural heritage of Iriomote for children who will be its guardians in the future.”
To pass on the abundant nature and unique heritage of
Iriomote Island to the next generation.
Iroimote is part of the Yaeyama group in Okinawa Prefecture, lying about 2000 km southwest of Tokyo.
The islands cover an area of about 289 km2, Most of which is designated as a national park. The island is home to a wide range of rare wildlife and ecology including a virgin forest of subtropical flora and fauna, Japan’s largest mangrove forest, and the Iriomote wild cat, an endangered species of which only 100 remain.
Another element of Iriomote island that cannot be overlooked is the rich traditional culture of its people, who have lived harmoniously with nature on the Island for hundreds of years. The changing of the seasons is celebrated with festivals such as the Shichi Festival which is registered as an important intangible cultural property of Japan.
Photo (C) Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center
Ethical tourism in Iriomote Island
Iriomote Island is home to only about 2400 residents however, in recent years it has become a popular tourist destination, drawing more than 300,000 visitors a year. This influx of tourists has led to a concerning rise in traffic accidents which endanger the vulnerable wild cat population and native vegetation of the island.
The announcement of Iriomote`s candidacy for designation as a World Natural Heritage site in 2020 is expected to draw even more attention and visitors to the island, adding the growing threat of over-tourism.
To protect and pass on the precious nature of Iriomote to the next generation, all of us as tourists must know, learn, think, and act on these pressing issues.
Be an ethical tourist!
Us 4 IRIOMOTE will continue to advocate for ethical tourism in Iriomote Island.
Leave No Trace (LNT) Tour in Japnan to promote conscious outdoor leadership education
Wilderness Education Association Japan（WEAJ） instructors of the field leader training group are riding around the entire nation in Kei class mini trucks promoting Leave No Trace (LNT) activities, a global outdoor eco-friendly program that has also been adopted by the YMCA and Boy Scouts.
YAMANEKO 530 Art Project
As visitors to the Island, we must act with compassion and consideration to preserve the beautiful nature and culture of Iriomote. By Participating in YAMANEKO 530 ART, you can learn about the problems facing the Yaeyama Islands and the world. Join us in reevaluating our lifestyle and our overreliance on disposable plastic products.
How to participate this project?
1) Pick up small pieces of plastic waste on the beach. The quantity is not important. bring as much as you can take with you, even if it is only as much as you can fit in your palm or pocket. Every bit counts!
2) Bring it back to the harbor and put it in
the YAMANEKO 530 ART BOX.
Only 100 cats
Iriomote cats are endemic to the island and can be found nowhere else in the world. Only 100 cats remain and as such, they have been both designated as a nationally protected animal of Japan and listed as a critically endangered species. The biggest threat to the cats is the danger posed to them by cars. The increasing number of visitors to the island has caused a rise in the number of cats killed on the road. In 2018 alone nine wild cats were killed, the highest ever recorded in a single year.
photo (C) Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center.
Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund（JTEF）
The teams patrol at night to prevent these tragic accidents. They remind drivers to slow down and remove roadkill which can attract wild cats.
Support by Us 4 IRIOMOTE:
Help us increase the number of staff on the night patrol, educate the residents and promote guidelines that prevent car accidents and roadkill.
Together with local residents
Helping the people of Iriomote preserve the traditional culture and natural environment of their island will foster sustainable industry and tourism, boost the local economy and benefit the residents now and in the future. This organization works to promote current environmental issues and cultural traditions to ensure that they are passed on.
Iriomote Island Eco-Tourism Association
A nonprofit organization whose goal is to make the Island a place where people and nature can live harmoniously. They conduct various activities to foster sustainable lifestyles that will coexist with the natural environment of Iriomote well into the future.
Environmental awareness programs for local tour guides and children will be jointly organized with Us 4 IRIOMOTE.