August 18th, 2008
This morning, Akiko and Moe took me to Kintestu station so that I could catch the Airport Limousine to Kansai Airport. Kansai is a really neat airport, because Japan basically built an artificial island so house the airport! The busride was about an hour long, and when I got to the airport, I went to the JAL counter to meet Mama and Papa. I eventually found them, and soon after Amy arrived too.
We checked in and then went through security, which was pretty lax since we were taking a domestic flight. We didn’t have long to wait in the waiting area before they started boarding our plane to Okinawa!
Airplane to Okinawa
The flight itself was only about an hour and 40 minutes long. It went by like nothing. We landed, collected our bags, and then went to the car rental place to pick up our navy blue Mazda. After getting the rental car, Papa drove us to our hotel, the Loisir. It was a pretty fancy place, I felt so spoiled with the doormen opening t he doors for us, carrying our luggage, escorting us to our rooms on the 8th floor. Amy and I settled into our room and Mama and Papa went to the room next door.
Kokusaidori (International Street)
After settling in a bit, Amy and I went on an adventure to find Kokusaidori, or International Street. It’s basically a massively long street filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. It took a little trouble, but we eventually found the place. We explored a little bit and then went back to the hotel by 9pm.
August 19th, 2008
Me and Amy went down to the lobby of the hotel to eat breakfast with Mama and Papa. It ended up being not very delicious, and pretty expensive, unfortunately. By 9:30, me and Amy boarded a Naha city bus, bound for Shurijo. Shurijo is the castle of Naha city. It’s the seat of the Ryukyu kinds. It was very beautiful, I really am fond of the vermillion red the Japanese use in their architecture.
Me at Shuri Castle
After exploring the castle, we attempted to find a bus stop. We didn’t have any luck, so instead we walked maybe 3 kilometers back to Kokusaidori. There, we found a small restaurant in which we had a traditional Okinawan meal – taco rice! It’s exactly what it sounds like, taco fixings on top of Japanese rice. So delicious!
After lunch we walked around Kokusaidori some more before making our way back to the hotel. From there, we packed our beach things and tried to find Naminoue Beach. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it, so we had to hire a taxi to bring us. Me and Amy spent a few hours at the beach, suntanning and swimming in the lovely algae water.
For dinner, Mama and Papa brought us to a Japanese steakhouse restaurant. There, a chef cooked for us personally, right on our table. We had a huge meal, including some crazy shrimp crackers, beef, tofu, and salad.
Today, Amy and I got on a tour bus at Naha Terminal at 9am. We took a tour bus to explore northern Okinawa Island. Our first stop was Ryukyu Mura, or Ryukyu Village. We walked around a traditional Okinawan-style village and even got to see a really neat farming dance performed! It was really awesome!
The next stop was a very beautiful cliff overlooking the sea, called Manza-mo. The Okinawan sea is sooo beautiful and blue and the cliffs were so grassy and lush. It was a really pretty area.
Manza-Mo (Field Large Enough for 10,000 Men to Sit)
Next was lunch, which was at an Okinawan sweets shop. Amy and I had taco rice again – yum! In Okinawa, the traditional foods are pineapple, purple sweet potatoe, and goya (a type of bitter cucumber maybe?). The purple potatoe is actually really good! They even make soft serve purple potatoe icecream!
After lunch, we continued on to the Okinawa Aquarium. We spent 2 hours there, looking and fish and whale sharks, watching a dolphin show, seeing manatees and sea turtles, and wading in Emerald Beach.
Me at Emerald Beach
The last stop was Fruitsland, which was basically a giant garden of tropical fruit plants, but the guide pretty much ran us through there, so I didn’t have time to see anything! There were some pretty birds and butterflies too, in their respective sections.
By that time, the tour was over, which was great because Amy and I were SOOOO tired from all the walking we did!!
August 21, 2008
Unfortunately, today was our last day in Okinawa!
Amy and I met Mama and Papa in the hotel lobby at 9 and we checked out. We drove to breakfast, where we had toast and yogurt and feasted on the juice bar.
Then we continued the drive to Okinawa World. The first thing we saw there were the caves. We took something like 230 stairs while exploring the deep, wet caves beneath the park. It was really neat, and a really nice temperature too!
Poisonous Snakes to make Habu Alcohol
The cave walk took maybe 30 minutes, and after that we explored Okinawa World. We saw pottery and glass and some fruit plants. We explored some traditional style Okinawan houses and watched a traditional dance being performed. Amy got her picture taken with a python and we tried drinking a sample of habu alcohol, which is brewed from snakes. Yes, snakes. It actually tasted kind of like wine mixed with cinnamon and had a bit of a burn. It’s VERY expensive stuff and is supposed to make you healthy and energetic.
On the way back to the car rental place, we stopped at A&W for lunch. Since there is a bunch of military bases on the island, Okinawa is actually a little bit Americanized. I’ve never seen an A&W in Japan before.
Me and Amy in Okinawa Purikura
Anyway, we brought back the car and then made our way back to the airport. We had a few hours to kill before our plane left, so we looked in some shops, did some purikura, and then went to sit in the waiting room.
Our plane left at 4:20pm, and the flight home seemed short. I took the airport limousine back to Kintetsu Station, and from there I flagged a cab and kind of fumbled my way home.