Travel, Travel Journal

Okinawa: First Impression

 

Hello everyone! In Japanese, that’s “konnichiwa, Minna-san!” In Okinawan, “haisai, gusuyo!”

I hope you’re all doing fine today. We just got back from Okinawa where we stayed for a week, following the elections and also I little bit of sightseeing.

This is my first time on the Island whom they used to call the Ryukyu Kingdom.

It has a similar climate with the Philippines as well as its flora, that I first thought “I’m back home!”

It was funny just thinking, I actually arrive someplace else and not somewhere in Japan.

We arrived at the airport and the gate hall was lined with orchids. The airport was simple, small and a bit old. It was just too familiar to me that I felt really at home.

Next thing was the monorail. From the first-floor arrival area, we had to go up to the second floor, cross the skywalk and reach the monorail terminal.

I love monorails because they usually have wide windows and perfect for sightseeing. However, this Okinawa monorail only consist of 2 cars! The shortest train I’ve ever seen! I thought it was funny, luckily it wasn’t too busy so we could still take a seat.

Monorail

From the monorail, I thought I saw the whole of Okinawa but that was just my wild imagination. The monorail was running high above the city and there’s hardly any tall buildings. You could see far and beyond, I’d recommend just taking a ride and see the entire city. It currently ends at Shuri station, which was perfect since that’s where our first stop was – The Shuri Castle.

I just read online that they’re constructing extensions up to Uranishi and it is scheduled to open next year March.

From Shuri station, Shuri castle is supposedly a walkable distance but we still had our luggage so we took a taxi which is a bit cheaper compared to taxis in Tokyo.

Just like the Philippines, the weather changes quickly, like you still have a bit of sun but also a bit of rain at the same time. Then it becomes sunny and hot again.

When we arrived at Shuri castle, I feel like I’m transported back to ancient China. I could hardly recognize any Japanese elements in its architecture. It takes a keen eye to see the mixture of influences and made into the distinctive Ryukyu Kingdom.

This Shuri Castle was the only one that was rebuilt after getting destroyed in the Okinawa Battle.

 

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Photo by Ippei and Janine Naoi

 

There are other castles scattered across Okinawa but only ruins remain.

I’ve learned so much about Okinawan’s history by visiting this castle, I’m definitely recommending you to go there when you visit Okinawa.

Our next stop was the Ferris wheel I saw online which I thought was nearby Shuri station. So we took a taxi and asked for the driver’s recommendation. We were intending to go anywhere near Kokusai-Dori, which we thought has the Ferris-wheel I saw online. The driver did mention that the only big wheel in Naha is the one in American Village. We got intrigued still thinking it’s just near and the driver did mention that it’s just 20 minutes. What he did not explain is that it’s actually really far and that it’s 20 minutes if you use the expressway!

 

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Photo by Kantaro Suzuki

 

So we ended up paying him about 3000 yen, that’s with a discount because the driver got guilty for not explaining properly. K was upset but I told him it’s partly our fault too. However, we were both surprised at that taxi driver who’s so much like our taxi driver’s in Manila! Oh, the memories of our taxi adventures in Manila just flooded our minds. That’s all that we talked about in the gondola while watching the seaside view as well as the American Base nearby.

 

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(Photo by Kantaro Suzuki) I think this was Camp Lester

 

But I have to thank that Taxi driver for driving us through Camp Foster, where there’s actually a Dunkin Donut store inside. At first, I felt happy because choco butternut is my favorite flavor but K told me we cannot enter the store because it is inside the US base.

My ancestor’s blood in me went berserk and grew stronger the longer I see more of the barbed-wire fences stretching across the mainland. You see, the Philippines used to host the biggest and most important US Naval Base until 1992. It was a depressing time for the locals but a flourishing time for capitalists. It was the first time since the 16th century that no foreign military forces were there in the Philippines. I wasn’t alive back then but I sure felt uneasy and almost mad that the locals do not have much control over their own land.

The impression it left me at the end of that day, was that Okinawa is like a child of divorced parents. It is under the control of US and neglected by the Mainland government.

I know I started my post in a cheerful tone and ending on a more serious topic, but that’s really what went on during our arrival. Hopefully, I get to end this entire series on a lighter tone.

I am starting a blog series about Okinawa: anything but beaches. Please subscribe or follow me on social media to get notified of my next Okinawa blog post. Thanks for your time today and have a beautiful day!

 

 

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Sunny but Dark clouds in the background. K and I enjoyed visiting the Shuri Castle a lot!  

PS: I only shared pictures and Videos of Shuri Castle on Instagram that day so I don’t have pictures on my camera. You can follow me on Instagram for my next spontaneous travel in Japan.

 

 

17 thoughts on “Okinawa: First Impression”

  1. Ienjoyed your piece onyour trip to
    Okinawa. I’ve visited Okinawa several times and have my own image and perception of the islands’ history, difficult relationship with the mainland and so on. Your descriptions of your impressions there are
    refreshing to me. My best regards to Kantaro.

    Like

  2. The castle is breathtakingly beautiful. I used to get to travel loads before having kids. I really miss it, but you seem to enjoy travelling. Have fun!

    Like

  3. What a lovely place with beautiful places to visit you have captured them beautifully in the photos I feel like a could jump in and actually be there

    Like

  4. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    It was a shame you never got to the Northern part of the island near Henoko on the pacific side or the even more beautiful China sea side.

    Like

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