• The Okinawa Times


A unique package tour on Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island for soon-to-be-married couples is creating a buzz.

The Ishigaki Municipal Government and travel agency H.I.S. Co. have teamed up to offer a proposal for couples: travel across the island, scale a steep cliff and dive into the sea — and then register your marriage.

Dubbed “the world’s most challenging marriage registration tour,” the idea is for couples to brave a string of difficult missions together to test their bond — and strength — to make tying the knot more memorable.

The unconventional tour is also seen as a way to tap into Ishigaki’s tourism potential.

The guided journey through scenic sites begins at the lighthouse at Cape Hirakubozaki. The first mission is to travel — on foot and by bicycle — 40 km from the cape at the island’s northern tip to the southernmost point. Next up is a steep cliff on Mount Nosoko. The last mission is a dive into the sea, where hidden away in a treasure box is a marriage certificate. Couples then head for one more stop: Ishigaki City Hall, where they can finally make their marriage official.

The project is aimed at supporting the city’s matchmaking program. Organizers have been flooded with inquiries since the package went on sale on Nov. 22.

A city official said the endeavor is a “considerably tough one,” but that after going through the tour’s hardships, couples will “live a happy married life for many years to come.”

The package is open from Dec. 16 to March 14 and will target couples aged 20 and older who plan to get married during the period. A total of 15 slots are open, with spots for three couples a day. Flights and lodging for four days and three nights total at least ¥99,800 per person. The tour will be held only on auspicious days known as taian.

In a promotional video, Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama encouraged couples to visit and register their marriages in the city, noting that such paperwork can be done anywhere in Japan.

The same video featured a couple who have already completed the mission, albeit partially. Asked to serve as models for the tour, the couple were filmed diving and visiting various locations in late September. And they actually got married during the period.

“It was really good to have fun together and get through a (tough situation),” the woman said, adding that while she does not know what lies ahead, she believes she and her partner can be happy together and weather any storm.

Her partner likewise looked happy, saying that the experience of “accomplishing something together before marriage” was wonderful.

This section features topics and issues from Okinawa covered by The Okinawa Times, a major daily in the prefecture. The original article was published on Dec. 2.

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