When I first told my Japanese staffers that I was going to Okinawa, a symphony of “iiiiii nnnaaaaaa’s” came out. That is a phrase used in the Japanese culture when people are envious of something or someone. I think it borders the line of “good for you” or “really….I’m soooooo jeaaaalousssssss”. Anyway, I was surprised to find out many native Japanese folks haven’t been to Okinawa, even though it’s only an hour flight away. I guess it’s the whole theory of having something in your backyard and never really thinking of going to visit. I wouldn’t know what that feels like. I’ve traveled all over California numerous times. Oh Japan.
My trip to Okinawa was practically seamless in every way. I went with my two ALT girlfriends Clara and Jessica S., both of whom had never been either. Everything from the train ride, the bus ride, the plane ride, and the monorail ride was just fine. We stayed at a very laid back hippie-esque hostel in Naha where everyone was required to be barefoot indoors. It was a bit unusual for me to be barefoot in a public place, but I managed.
From left to right: Me, Jessica, and Clara outside our hostel
The first day was spent at the Shuri Castle. It was a beautiful, historical place, brimming with tourists. The girls and I went on a brochure stamping adventure even though we knew the stamps were for JHS students to obtain points for some silly sticker in the end. We encountered some pushy ice cream people outside the castle. Though I’m a sucker for ice cream, I’m even more of a repellent towards pushy people. No ice cream business from me!
Shuri Castle (Shurijo)
That even we hauled on over to Kokusai Dori (International Street) and ended up at an Indian restaurant. Coincidentally, there were these guys that we asked to take our pictures at the Shuri Castle that ended up being along our path most of the entire time. We lost them for a while and found them at the same Indian Restaurant at some back alley of Kokusai Dori. So strange. Oh-speaking of strange, Jessica found these two random green Power Rangers walking down the street to be absolutely amusing.
On Sunday, we rented a totally rad Hyundai car and I drove us two hours away to visit the Churaumi Aquarium, one of the most famous aquariums in Japan. It was glorious and spectacular. I was so amazed at this huge tank that had three whales, sting rays, assorted fishes, and scuba divers.
Afterwards, we scooted ourselves to the Pineapple Park, where we watched the most sad looking music video of little girls dancing to the Pineapple song. If you don’t know what the pineapple song is, ask me one day and I’ll sing it to you. We sampled pineapple wine, pineapple cakes, pineapple juices, pineapple vinegar, pineapple pie, pineapple ice cream, and pineapples!! It was simply awesome. We headed over to the Fruits park next door only to find that they were closing. We left, but not without trying some more samples.
Pineapple flower plant things
Later that evening, we stumbled upon America Village. We just saw sparkly lights and a ferris wheel and we were drawn to it like mosquitos to…light. Or flies to poo. Whichever. We walked around the village and found this amazing Omutaco rice place. I swear, that was the best dish I have had the whole trip (and that’s saying a lot since all the food was amazing). I’m still drooling thinking about it.
The best omutaco rice dish ever!
Monday morning, we hopped on a ferry right behind our hostel and sailed over to the beautiful island of Tokashiiki. It was an hour + ride and the girls were able to see some whales. I, on the other hand, was getting woozy so I slept the entire time. Once on the island, we took a bus to Aharen Beach, which I have to say is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in a while. The ocean was so blue and clear. We practically had the whole beach to ourselves. Jessica rented a kayak and sailed to the other island where she snorkeled and encountered numerous Angel fishes, corrals, and other ocean life. I laid on the sunny beach with Clara enjoying the warm weather and sun. I thought to myself, “This is how every Monday should be.” We capped off the beach trip with some ice cream and headed home in the evening. We went back to Kokusai Dori to celebrate our last night at an izakaya place. We ate so much, my belly was aching the entire night. Oh- we also went to Junkudo, a popular bookstore in Japan. There I bought the English version of the manga “One Piece.” I’m reading it now and it’s totemo omoshiroii (very interesting).
Aharen Beach, AKA paradise
Tuesday, we took a morning stroll after our breakfast of Starbucks and headed home. That evening, we saw a beautiful sunset along the Shikoku islands as we trained it back to Okayama. It reminded me to appreciate the simple beautiful aspects of nature.
Sunset over Shikoku
So there you have it. My little extended weekend to Okinawa was a hit! I’m good for islands for now. Frankly, I don’t think I’m made to be an island girl, but it’s nice to escape to places like that for a little bit.
Adjusting back to the grind has been a little rough, I’ll admit, but the week is finally over and I have an event-filled weekend ahead of me. Bleh…I could use another break.
P.S. For more pictures, go here: http://pix.kg/p/785120988212%3A254503159/scl