|"I created Kyoshi Island so my people could be safe from invaders."|
|— Avatar Kyoshi to the people of Chin Village.|
Kyoshi Island is located off the southern coast of the Earth Kingdom and dotted with many small villages. Predominantly a fishing port, this small island in the South Sea is a popular destination among traders and travelers. Its most important export good is the elephant koi. Despite this, some villages on the island were traditionally extremely isolationistic.
It is well known as the adopted home of Avatar Kyoshi and the residence of the elite Kyoshi Warriors, an all-female fighting outfit. As a result, every village on the island hosts a statue of its revered Avatar, and one of the villages has converted a temple into a shrine dedicated to her. The island is characterized by its relative seclusion and temperate climate.
The area that later became Kyoshi Island was originally a peninsula whose most prominent settlement was Yokoya Port. This village was an impoverished community of farmers and fishers whose hard lives were marked by monotonous work and a stubborn sense of xenophobic pride. The peninsula was strategically and economically unimportant: merchant ships usually circumvented it due to the prevailing winds and currents of nearby Whaletail Strait, and the Earth Kingdom's government consequently had no interest in actually governing the area. The people of Yokoya thus existed in relative isolation, save for occasional contact with the town of Qinchao further inland or passing travelers.
Around 308/307 BG, Jesa and Hark arrived at the village, paid a local farmer to care for their daughter, Kyoshi, and left. Contrary to the agreement, however, the farmer threw the young girl onto the streets. Since the Yokoyans were poor and generally unsympathetic toward outsiders, they left Kyoshi to die from starvation.
In 305 BG, Yokoya was visited by the elders Jianzhu and Kelsang in their quest for the successor of Avatar Kuruk. They presented the Avatar relics to the local children, to no avail. Kelsang ran into Kyoshi during this time and, realizing that she had been abandoned, provided for her from then on. A few years later, a boy named Yun was identified as Avatar, and Jianzhu purchased some land near Yokoya Port to erect a fortified mansion to house and train him. Kyoshi became a servant at the mansion.
Over time, several locals began to regard the mansion and its inhabitants with suspicion, feeling envious of their wealth and regarding the sale of their lands to Jianzhu as a mistake. Despite these feelings, Yokoya profited economically from the mansion's presence. In addition, Jianzhu became Yokoya's official sage and began to serve as the region's guiding force. Under his leadership, the Avatar mansion of Yokoya became home to a small but cosmopolitan and affluent population from the four nations. Though most of these were temporary residents, some lived permanently at Yokoya. Many of the migrants, most importantly the servants, also regularly interacted with the native Yokoyans.
After Father Glowworm confirmed that Kyoshi was the true Avatar, she returned to Yokoya after witnessing Jianzhu kill Kelsang and sacrifice Yun. By the time Jiazhu returned to the peninsula as well, Kyoshi and Rangi had already left the area and headed to the chaotic inner provinces of the Earth Kingdom. Concluding that his reputation would take an unavoidable hit, he tried to track them down but failed. Returning to his estate, Jianzhu discovered that Hui and his supporters were approaching Yokoya, outraged about the Avatar's loss to outlaws. Before a vote could take place on whether to remove Jianzhu as the Avatar's guardian, the sages were poisoned and killed en masse. Jianzhu kidnapped Rangi from Zigan Village and brought her to the mansion in Yokoya, but she was freed by Kirima and Wong.
After Jianzhu was killed by Yun in Qinchao Village, the Avatar estate was bequeathed to Kyoshi. When Kyoshi arrived at Yokoya once more after seeking sanctuary at the Southern Air Temple, a Fire Nation minister arrived to observe Kyoshi bending all four elements, before he returned home to report the new state of affairs.
Following the mass poisoning in Yokoya, the Avatar mansion was semi-abandoned, as many of the staff immediately quit, and Kyoshi did not want to manage a large household. The villagers avoided the manor, calling it an unlucky place.
One year later, Kyoshi returned to Yokoya on a pleasure craft belonging to the royal family of the Fire Nation, and found Yun at the Avatar mansion. In the ensuing battle between the two earthbenders, almost all of the mansion was destroyed, and Yun was killed. Atuat planned to come to Yokoya to treat Kyoshi's wounded companions, who were cared for in the mansion's infirmary.
Kyoshi buried Yun on a hill overlooking Yokoya, with Rangi attending the funeral. Shortly after, Kyoshi was led to a spring in a forest near Yokoya by a fox that would become her animal guide. It was here that she was able to contact Avatar Yangchen for the first time.
Early history as an island
Decades later, a warlord known as Chin the Great conquered the entire Earth Kingdom with his armies, Ba Sing Se and Yokoya peninsula being the sole exceptions. When the warlord marched his armies down to the neck of the peninsula in 270 BG, Avatar Kyoshi avoided a battle and managed to keep her people safe from invasion by using a combination of different bending techniques to separate their peninsula from the mainland and form Kyoshi Island. Kyoshi consequently assumed responsibility for governing the newly formed island, becoming its governor.
Following Kyoshi's death, the island remained closely associated with her in popular memory, and some people such as Avatar Aang even falsely believed that she had been born there. Over time, some communities on Kyoshi Island became extremely isolationistic, believing that Avatar Kyoshi had cut them off from the mainland to shield them from all outside influences. In contrast, other villages continued to trade and interact with outsiders, with elephant koi meat, blubber, and oil being the primary export items.
Hundred Year War
As the island held no significant military advantage and was home to only a few earthbenders, the region was not attacked at all during the early and intermediate stages of the Hundred Year War. However, the isolationist tendencies of some locals only grew due to the war. For instance, the inhabitants of Oyaji's village had no intention of inviting unwanted attention, and as a result were often hostile toward outsiders, fearing Fire Nation spies. Agricultural crop failures resulted in a threat of famine for Oyaji's village during the late war. By this point, this village had begun to believe so strongly in isolationism and self-sufficiency that its leaders refused to consider outside aid even in this situation. Thanks to the Kyoshi Warrior band of Suki having gathered wild plants as extra food, however, a famine was avoided.
In late 99 AG, Team Avatar visited Kyoshi Island. After initially capturing them as suspected spies, the locals treated them with great respect upon learning that Aang was the Avatar. However, the island's fishers and traders spread tales of the Avatar's arrival in the Earth Kingdom mainland, causing Prince Zuko to raid the island to capture Aang. The Fire Nation prince attacked Oyaji's village, causing considerable damage. However, inspired by Avatar Aang's arrival on the island, the citizens gained new hope and adopted a more welcoming attitude. Additionally, one group of Kyoshi Warriors led by Suki left to join the war effort in hopes of making a difference.
In 100 AG, Kyoshi Island was again visited by Sokka and Katara, who arrived riding on Appa and were welcomed by a large number of the island's inhabitants. The two siblings intended on acquiring the necessary information about Kyoshi that would prove both her and Aang innocent, as the latter was being held prisoner in Chin Village for the murder of Chin the Conqueror. Due to his imprisonment, Aang was not able to be present during the visit, much to inhabitants' disappointment, namely Koko and foaming mouth guy. Sokka and Katara proceeded to Kyoshi's shrine, led by Oyaji whom they had informed of the accusation against the Avatar. After having analyzed Kyoshi's relics and having been told of the history of Kyoshi Day, the two deduced that Kyoshi was not responsible for Chin's murder and left the island, returning to Chin Village thereafter.
A year later, Kyoshi Island had taken on a more active stance in politics. Upon Mai's request, the Kyoshi Warriors took on the role of becoming bodyguards for Fire Lord Zuko after several attempts to assassinate him. The Kyoshi Warriors additionally helped train the first nonbending police force in Cranefish Town.
Every village of Kyoshi Island has a local civil leader and a band of female warriors to provide protection. Before the separation of the island from the mainland, Yokoya was led by a village captain who could be either male or female.
The inhabitants of Kyoshi Island have a relatively egalitarian culture, based on economic self-sufficiency. They mostly live from fishing and farming, though some are also active as traders. Their homes are made of wood and have steeply pitched thatched roofs to prevent the accumulation of snow. Despite their unsophisticated economy, the Kyoshi Islanders are relatively well off, especially compared to the poverty of Yokoya peninsula before its separation from the mainland.
The locals already had a high level of gender equality when the area was a peninsula, which only became even more profound and firmly rooted in the local culture under the governance of Avatar Kyoshi. Locals display a preference for donning themselves in hues of blue, with documented cases going back as far as the 4th century BG, as well as present times. Some attribute their affinity for the color to the area's relative isolation from the rest of the Earth Kingdom.
Despite several communities of the island trading and interacting with the outside world on regular intervals, some villages were strong believers in isolationism by the late Hundred Year War. Oyaji's village was even unwilling to trade with others for food in times of bad harvests when locals were threatened by starvation. The inhabitants of Oyaji's village also believed themselves separate from the Earth Kingdom, and interpreted their separation from the mainland as a "mandate" by Avatar Kyoshi to maintain an isolation from all outsiders.[nb 1]
The Kyoshi Warriors are several all-female groups of fighters that are fiercely protective of the island and its people, with the most notable group led by Suki. While each village has its own forms and traditions, their fighting style with metal fans and clothing generally mimic those of Avatar Kyoshi. Their fighting philosophy emulates that of waterbenders, as it is based on the principle of using their opponents' force against them. The female warriors do not take kindly to training outsiders, especially men, in these unique methods.
Due to their home's isolation, the islanders grow and catch most of their own food. Rice forms the staple of the Kyoshi Island diet, as well as fish; various kinds of sushi are available. In the nearby sea, there are elephant koi which serve as the island's main source of commerce, and a giant eel known as the unagi. In the market of Suki's village, cucumbers, eggplant, wild nuts, taro root, apples, scallions, and daikon radishes were available.
They also had an assortment of desserts, varying from cakes to iced pastries, indicating the existence of wheat fields and sugar canes.
Kyoshi Day is the most important holiday on the island. This celebration commemorates the day Avatar Kyoshi created the island in defense against Chin the Conqueror. A famous mural of Kyoshi at sunset was painted on the first Kyoshi Day and now resides in a shrine to the Avatar on the island. Kyoshi Day coincides with Avatar Day.
- Kyoshi Island is largely reminiscent of Japan, as it is part of an archipelago separated from the larger main continent. The warriors also wear armor similar to ancient Japanese armor, along with face paint similar to the face paint used in Japanese Kabuki. Furthermore, their food is based on traditional Japanese cuisine, they have Japanese-sounding names such as Suki and Oyaji, and use Japanese terms like kimono.
- Kyoshi Island is the first known landmass created through man-made means, as Kyoshi forcibly separated it from the mainland using her bending abilities.
- Even prior to Kyoshi Island's separation from the Earth Kingdom mainland, its residents faced a recurring problem with citizens who came to the seaside port and caused trouble. During her time, Avatar Kyoshi herself would visit the port and put the carousing men in their place, though the succeeding Kyoshi Warriors continued to have problems with disorderly visitors.
- Yokoya's description in The Rise of Kyoshi chapter "The Test" and the town seen in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Warriors of Kyoshi" highly resemble each other.
- The comic Suki, Alone claims that isolationism was a policy which applied to all of Kyoshi Island, but this is contradicted by other canon information such as the episode "The Warriors of Kyoshi", the older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, and Avatar Extras. Thus, the isolationism as portrayed in the comic can only apply to some villages on the island, not all of them.