Last Thursday we headed south to Okinawa for 3 nights. One of the main reasons we chose Okinawa was to visit Aki, our Japanese tutor in Australia (until she met an Aussie boy in Japan and moved back!)
Typical of Tokyo it was an easy trip to Haneda airport, which is quite close to our place in Oimachi. However once we landed the transportation options were less varied. We had decided to hire a car on a few recommendations (Lonely Planet included!), so picked up our car from the airport with little to no understanding of what was going on.
Thursday evening we decided to hit the town of Naha where we were staying, and had a bit of a night eating and drinking around the well known Kokusai-dori (the main drag)
Due to Thursday nights activities we decided to have a leisurely start on Friday. After much pondering we settled on a drive about 70 km up the coast to a popular aquarium and marine park. The drive sounded scenic and relaxing, after all we had our rented Suzuki with GPS (although it was all in Japanese). So we set off and after about half an hour of traffic thought "won`t it be nice to get out of the city and traffic?"
Well we waited... and waited... in total the drive took over 2.5 hours! The drive wasn`t all bad but you can imagine how we felt after our 2.5 to 3 hour drive in what seemed like Sunday drivers traffic (oh yes they are everywhere!) Well drive aside, the aquarium was quite impressive. Due to the lateness of our departure by the time we wandered down to the aquarium entrance, we found we had some luck in that there was an after 4pm discount! It wasn`t long til 4, and noticing a dolphin pool close by we wandered over and were right in time for their free afternoon show. What luck the slow traffic had achieved for us - after all you have to look on the bright side of these things don`t you? Needless to say, the dolphin show was lots of fun. Oh and have we mentioned yet that Okinawa is darn hot?
Anyway here are a couple of photos.
Us out at dinner Thursday night, the place we were at had beers for 100yen as long as you ordered food (which is super cheap), the beer was shit, but we had fun.
After our lovely drive waiting for the dolphins
A porpoise (yes we know we said dolphin, but they did have them too honest)
The massive tank at the aquarium, there were 2 or 3 whale sharks, you can see one to the right.
Well Friday night we had arranged to have dinner with Aki and her partner Adam (to which we were unfortunately late because the drive back took just about as long as the drive up even though we found an expressway). They took us to a great little restaurant that was close to their apartment (which also happened to be quite close to our hotel!) With local knowledge behind her Aki ordered a great selection of food which never stopped coming. Luckily for us neither did the good local beer and the local spirit awamori (which similar to shochu). It was fantastic!
After too much driving the day before we decided to take a ferry ride on Saturday to one of the quieter islands where we could do some snorkellng and see the sights that Okinawa is famous for. We decided on Zamami which was about 2 hours ferry away. PM: It wasn`t the most enjoyable trip for me as I was feeling a little... under the weather let`s say.
Well Zamami delivered on the views and the snorkeling, although it was very hot... did we mention it gets hot in Okinawa?!
JH: The snorkeling was amazing - it was one of the first times I had my contact lenses in so couldn`t believe how much detail I could see! Definitely the most exciting fish we came across was a parrotfish (we think!) that was chomping on big bits of coral with its massive rabbit-like teeth. It was all fun & games though until it turned in our direction and I freaked out a bit imagining it taking a large chunk out of my arm!
After a pretty long day we had more dinner plans - Aki and Adam invited us over for a bbq at their apartment. We were being very spoilt and once again had a fantastic night, even getting a few Japan tips. Below are some more pics.
Us with Aki out at dinner.
Aki and Paul, with the 30 year old awamori and one of the waiters brought over so we could try!
Us at the beach on Zamami just before jumping in for some snorkeling.
The beach where we snorkeled.
Not sure what this sign was meant to say, but somewhere along the lines the meaning was lost in the translation - hopefully you can make out what it says.
Well that is it until next time, sorry for such a long blog but there was a lot to update.
PM: For those Astro Boy fans there is a 3D animation movie coming out in Tokyo next month! I am hoping there are English options (though I may go and see it anyway!)