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Even before we alight the plane at Ishigaki Airport, passengers have started to comment on the heat. It’s around 9 a.m., already topping 34 degrees Celsius and so humid I confess to a twinge of uneasiness.

As a weak swimmer who not only feels uncomfortably restless on a beach but suffers heat exhaustion after mere minutes of sunbathing, for me the Okinawan islands — despite their stunning turquoise waters, white sand and clear blue skies — had never really been top of the to-do list. But when a friend challenged me to try Ishigaki “for just one night” claiming she’d find plenty to do without sun-worshipping or diving, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

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