Okinawa has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The beaches have white sand and clear blue water. The island has rolling hills with beautiful look out spots. And as a bonus the Okinawan people are so kind and welcoming. They opened their hearts to us and made us feel at home. At the first restaurant we went to the cook made sure we had enough rice and offered us silverware just in case we couldn’t use chopsticks. People stopped us to welcome us to Okinawa. Our bus driver on Tokashiki Island found someone to translate the tour to us in English after trying herself. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people!
The weather was phenomenal. It was sunny and in the 60s-70s the entire weekend. The air was hot and humid, just like I like it. It was heavenly to feel sunshine on my skin and actually feel warm! It’s been sunny in mainland Japan but very cold and very windy most days. We were able to walk the beach in our bathing suits, snorkel (in freezing water), and leave with sunburns (oops).
We stayed at the Grand Naha Guest House while we were there. It was our first experience staying in a hostel. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, other than trying to sleep with strangers snoring. You definitely don’t have any of the comforts of having your own hotel room, but it was so cheap!
I found this blog post about 3 days in Okinawa without a car that really helped us out. They also gave some great tips on what to see and where to eat! Below is a recap of what we did and some highlights from each day.
Day One: Flying from Tokyo to Naha
Day Two: Japanese Navy Underground Museum, Shuri Castle, Mashiki Market
The underground museum was so heartbreaking. You can actually see holes in the walls from someone using a grenade to commit suicide. I’m glad we went to the museum at the beginning of our trip. We learned a lot about the war and how it completely demolished Okinawa. A lot of the other sites we saw, such as Shuri Castle, were all rebuilt after.
Stairs to the Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters
At shrines, you wash away your impurities when you walk in. Take a scoop of water, wash your left hand, then right, (rinse your mouth), then lift the ladle to rinse it off.
Lots of firsts in this picture – Trying Okinawan soba (similar to ramen), taking shoes off before entering the restaurant, and sitting on the floor.
The gates to Shuri Castle being guarded by Shisa. A lion type animal who keeps good spirits in and bad spirits out. They are everywhere in Okinawa!
Day Three: Fukushuen Gardens, Naminoue Beach, Tamaudun Mausoleum
My favorite part of the day was visiting Fukushuen Gardens. It cost next to nothing and was beautiful inside. There was beautiful architecture, music playing throughout, waterfalls, lakes, flowers, and koi fish. What else do you need out of a garden retreat in the middle of the city?
Day Four: Tokashiki Island, Tokashiku Beach, Aharen Beach, Dojo Bar
We originally wanted to head straight to Aharen Beach when we docked at Tokashiki Island. Somehow we ended up in a small bus tour of the island. Our bus driver took us to 2-3 scenic overlooks (where she took everyone’s pictures), Tokashiku Beach, a hibiscus garden, and eventually Aharen Beach. Best tour guide ever. She even played traditional Okinawan music for us while we were waiting!
Later that night, we went to the Dojo Bar in Okinawa. We met some really great people from all over – Lithuania, Ireland, Argentina. This was the first time we felt like we were traveling vs just living/working somewhere different.
We bought matching outfits at Mashiki Market after drinking at an all you can drink bar! Oops.
Day Five: Renting Bikes, Lunch at Buy Me Stand, Pottery Street, Flying back to Tokyo
We had planned on renting bikes from our hostel and riding around on our last day. There was only one bike left when we woke up and other bike rentals around us didn’t open until hours later. We ended up just renting the one and took turns on it!!
We stumbled upon the Giants spring training and of course Spencer was wearing his Astros shirt.