Written by: Jamieson
During the summer of 2020, I decided to take a week of vacation in Okinawa, a cluster of tropical islands to the southwest of Japan. I had very little prior knowledge of the area before coming to Japan, but after so many clients recommended it to me I just had to go there and check it out for myself.
After a bit of research into the best times to visit, I made a tactical booking for the third week of June. This was slightly risky as it’s the end of Okinawa’s rainy season. However, the risk paid off and we had glorious weather for the whole week! Well, except the day we were leaving but after a week of blistering tropical temperatures, a cooling downpour of rain was kind of welcome.
There is a notion of “Okinawan time” or “island time” and coming from Tokyo, my girlfriend and I certainly felt that the pace of life was a lot slower and more relaxed. Upon visiting local family-fun cafes and restaurants the owners would often take time to get to know us while tending to our needs. This added a personal experience to our visit and before we realised it a couple of hours would pass. It was a nice change from the rapid pit stop service we were familiar with in Tokyo. On a few occasions when visiting our favourite place for breakfast it would already be lunchtime by the time we had finished. Whoops!
Despite the slower pace of life there is actually a lot to see and do in Okinawa. We found ourselves taking in the tropical scenery whilst zip-lining across the treetops, snorkeling and swimming along with the local fish, cycling around the island as well as taking a canoe out to sea. Of course there were also days when we just found a secluded beach to relax on and enjoy a picnic and a few drinks.
One of the great things about traveling is experiencing new foods. In Okinawa I had the pleasure of trying two local delicacies, Okinawan soba and habushu. The soba contains boiled pig’s feet that have been simmered for hours on low heat, making it super tender. A little strange to see a whole pig’s foot in your soba but I can assure you it was delicious! Habushu on the other hand, is an alcoholic drink also known as Okinawan snake wine. It is sake that has a pit viper submerged in the bottle. It is believed that this drink contains a medicinal property that is good for your health. I am not so sure about that but the sake definitely had an impact on me!
For our last night we found a perfect self-service outdoor BBQ area. Upon arriving we were shown the cooking and bar area and how to help ourselves, then left to our own devices for the rest of the night. It was amazing being free to just enjoy the area, eating and drinking whilst watching the sunset and staying for as long as we wanted. Overall, we really enjoyed our little island adventure and can’t wait to visit again sometime in the near future!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hello, I am Jamieson from the UK. I came to Japan in January of 2020 as a sponsored applicant and started teaching with Gaba within a couple of weeks of my arrival. I am loving my time here in Japan so far and can’t wait to get out and about to explore more of what it has to offer. Thank you for reading my introduction!