After 6 years, I finally get to visit the southern island of Japan. What a surprise!
It's hard to believe that this is still Japan - there are tropical trees and flowers everywhere, the climate is already so much warmer, the locals even seemed so much more laid back but little things like the Post Offices and the Yamato (takkyubin service) signs reminded me that this was still the ever efficient Japan I know and loved and how I wished had actually remembered to send my own suitcase down!
Naha is the only city on the island and it is certainly a bustling little hub.
There is a different mentality in the south for sure and whatever the reasons - I like it!
I found people to be a lot more relaxed, the food was delicious and the weather was lots warmer. I was happy.
We failed to actually absorb any culture as we only stopped for a night either side of our main trip to Miyako, but we liked what we saw. Next time, we have promised ourselves some island exploration, a visit to Shuri castle and a lot more coastal discovery! For now, here is a little introduction to Japan's main southern island.
FOOD & YUMS IN OKINAWA
They do love the PIG down in the south and the poor animal doesn't stand a chance! Look at this picture carefully and you will see the shape of his nose!
And, you shall be glad to hear, that the ears can be served FRESH or DRY and in snack form! I have to admit to trying them a good few years back. I still haven't quite got over the experience.
I have been enjoying taco rice at home for a short while now. It is a Mexican slant on a bowl of meat and rice but I had no idea that it actually 'originated' from Okinawa. This picture has egg and mayonnaise (heavenly) but, it is still very delectable with just salad and cheese!
|Goya chanpuru, sea grape, HAMBURGER & FRIES|
Goya is a strange, bumpy vegetable. it tastes bitter and looks like a fat, unhealthy cucumber-courgette-fusion gone wrong - yet, somehow, it works. Admittedly, you need to fry it with SPAM (available endlessly, thanks to the US connection.) and add some fat chunks of tofu to make you think that it IS actually healthy despite the oil and faux-meat (!)
Again, thanks to the US, there are a LOT of hamburger joints there. OMG! YUM YUM!
Souvenirs / Omiyage
|Hello Kitty hand towel.|
|Goya kitty pencil.|
There is one long strip of souvenir shops in the centre of Naha and you can find anything from Hello Kitty towels, pens, socks etc (of course!) to colourful drinking glasses. There are flowery shirts aplenty as many opt for it as a daily fashion - even your dog can get a Okinawan style t-shirt! (no, we did not get one for Elbi!!)
I managed to pick up a cute kokeshi doll to add to my collection. She looks so sweet, with her hibiscus on her tummy!
And then....the best...worst...or certainly most popular is this one to the right...Look carefully...!!!
The airport is one of the best I have ever seen. It's probably easier to just allow yourself an extra couple of hours and you can send your postcards AND collect gifts for all in sundry. You could even do a fruit and vegetable shop for dinner if you are flying locally! (A few items are not allowed even in Japan, so do check when you purchase.)
You might just want to get a last taste of the tropical vibe and grab a smoothie. Good luck trying to remember the names!! But - it was delicious!