So for Golden Week, I went to the beautiful Ryukyu Islands! Thank you very much to Takuya and the Kaneshiro Family, my visit to the islands was an adventure filled with incredible new experiences! I got to swim under a beautiful waterfall, eat some delicious goat sashimi, and even kiss an anaconda.
There is so much that happened in Ryukyu, I don’t even know where to start. For those of you don’t know, the Ryukyu Islands are better known as Okinawa. Okinawa is a set of islands located at the very bottom of Japan. One of the things that I learned about Okinawa was that if Japanese people don’t have enough money to vacation in Hawaii, they go to Okinawa, as it is similar in its climate and views. Okinawan people are very kind, the beaches are just as beautiful, and American stores like A&W can be found all across the island. Although it is very similar, it is also very different. The majority of beaches are coral beaches, there are all sorts of mom and pop stores laid out all over the island, and there are snakes. Haha!
On my first day in Okinawa, I was greeted by Takuya, a good friend that I met in Hawaii. Although we didn’t have much time to do anything on the first day, we visited the nearest beach. Okinawa’s beaches are pretty awesome! They have basketball courts , volleyball nets, soccer goals, a cool shower area, and like any other place in Japan, a lot of vending machines. They even have speakers that play random music for people who are relaxing on the beach. When we first got there, they were playing traditional Japanese Enka music and as we left they started playing baseball announcements. Of course, we visited this beach again and again, and each time they played different music. They played Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele solos and even some of Hawaii’s island music. I was delightfully surprised!
On the second day, we drove around the island with one of Takuya’s friend, Susumu! The beaches were beautiful, the sky was clear, and for the first time, I got to see a halo rainbow! Actually, it was the first time for all three of us. It was so beautiful that at one point, we stopped the car on the side of the road and then laid on the grass to stare at it.
For lunch, we went to an awesome secluded restaurant known as Kajinho. The restaurant was beautiful! Put near the end of a cliff, the traditional looking house had an amazing view of the mountain and beaches. Although, their small pizza was quite expensive, I have to say that it was worth it for the experience. If there is anything similar as to how I would want my future house to be like, it would be something similar to this restaurant.
After lunch, we went to Chiraumi Aquarium! This was aquarium was huge. Most of it was free, as you could visit a lot of the animals without having to pay for anything. You could even see the dolphin and whale show for free! The main attraction for me would have to be the Whale Shark Tank. It was a huge tank! It made Oahu’s Pacific Beach Hotel’s Fish Tank look small.
After the aquarium, we went to the Okinawa Beer Garden restaurant for dinner. It was an all you can eat Yakiniku restaurant. Although we could have eaten as much meat for only a set price, we decided to eat expensive meat that day. I got to taste Okinawa’s beef for the first time! It was the most delicious freakin’ steak I have ever eaten! I don’t remember how much it cost, but it had to be expensive, because they only gave us one slab of it. At the end of the second day, we drove home, visited Hawaii for a few seconds, and then went home on an extremely satisfied stomach.
On the third day in Okinawa, we went to one of Okinawa’s old castle ruins. A long time ago, Okinawa was divided into three kingdoms; the south, middle, and north. We visited the south kingdom’s ruins, where we found the graves of the first four kings. Most of the place was gone because of the bombings that America did in World War II, however, it was nice to see that there was still something left.
After that, we visited the Peace Memorial Museum. The museum was well made. As you walked through the exhibit, you walk through time and see what Okinawa was like before, while, and after World War II. The casualties and the stories of the victims in Okinawa during World War II were very sad. They have this section where you can read the stories of those who lived. In my opinion, that section is important. By reading the stories of the victims, you can get a clear picture of the horror and struggles of World War II.
We also visited the Peace Memorial Park, where the names of all the victims of World War II in Okinawa were carved onto marble stones. These names included people not only from Japan, but from the US as well as Korea and China. Every section was divided by prefecture. Even until this day, the list continues to grow as they find more bodies all over the island. They even find live bombs and old bullets.
As the day went on, we visited “Kokusai Dori,” or the International Road, with one of Takuya’s friends, Jinyu! After World War II, this road was the place to go to if you wanted to buy groceries, furniture, or anything else. It was like a marketplace and swap meet thrown into one area. Although it wasn’t as old fashioned as I had hoped it would be, it was quite lively. I got to eat sea grapes and snake soup for my first time there. I even got to help Jinyu buy himself a new Ukulele.
As the day turned into night, we returned home where we got to cook meat with Kaneyan-otousan and his two friends, Hiro-san and Masahiro-san. It was an awesome night! We sang some songs from Hawaii, drank traditional Okinawan beer, and talked about things like Hawaii 5-O and Tiger Woods. I got to say, that this was one of my favorite nights in Okinawa!
On the next day, we went to Okinawa’s Blue cave with Shinsuke, another one of Takuya’s friends. The water, the fish, and the cave were all very beautiful! I’d say that you can see more fish here than you would be able to see at Hanauma Bay. I have to say though, that is was as crowded as Hanauma bay, if not more crowded. I got kicked a few times in the water while swimming next to people. I didn’t get to see the true beauty of the cave since it was a cloudy day, so I’m going to make a plan to return there on another day.
In the next few days, we went all over the place. It was lots of fun, especially since Taka, Jinyu, and Aina (three awwesome friends) joined us on the tour of Okinawa! One of the first things we did, was go to Okinawa’s Shuri Castle! Shuri Castle was so big and beautiful; we decided to play Hide-and-go-seek on the castle grounds! It was lots and lots of fun!
I even got to dress up in Okinawa’s traditional clothing! I wish that we all could have worn the clothing together, but oh well! It was still an awesome picture to take!
One of the awesome things we did together was go to Ta Waterfall! It was extra extra extra extra awesome with a side order of awesome! The walk there in the nature was breathlessly beautiful, and sitting under the waterfall was just freakin’ fantastic.
On the way to the waterfall though, I dropped my camera in a deep pool of water. After 20 or so tries diving in the water to look for it, I couldn’t find anything. Takuya, with his awesome skills, found it only on his second try. Thank goodness he found it! I would’ve stayed there until nightfall just to get my camera.
After that, Takuya and I said goodbye to Taka and Aina and went to the beautiful hotel that Kaneyan-Otousan reserved for us! It was a big room! The food at the hotel was really good too! Too bad we couldn’t stay with everyone! I’m sure that it would have been extra fun!
When we woke up the next day, we went to Corey Island. Hahaha! The bridge to Corey Island was super long. One of the longest I’ve ever seen! The beach was even more fantastic as it was shallow and the water was a fantastic shade of blue. It was so nice, we decided to bring our ukuleles and sing on the beach!
After that, we visited Ryukyu University, where I got to see a Habu, or Japanese snake, for my first time. Ryukyu University was very beautiful! A lot of its students reminded me of Hawaii’s students, as every person was tanned and dressed in a fashion similar to University of Hawaii students.
After that, we toured around for a little while and found a SUPER AWESOME park. This park was purely for kids as it was decorated with a huge playground! When I got there, I couldn’t help myself but play and run on all parts of the playground! My favorite part would have to be this super long roller slide that started at the top of the playground, curved over the highway, and ended at the very bottom of the park. It was an awesome slide! It’s just too bad that your butt feels super weird when you hit the bottom!
On the very last day in Okinawa, Takuya took me to Okinawa World, a theme park where you get to walk through the caves of Okinawa and experience Okinawa’s old traditional atmosphere! It was a fantastic park! We got to see all sorts of things, and experience hands-on workshops where you could learn to make your own bag, play the sanshin (a traditional Okinawan instrument), and dress up in Okinawan traditional clothing.
The very first thing we visited in Okinawa was the majestic cave. If this cave were ever in Hawaii, I would probably explore it with my friends and see all the secret areas that it has. Takuya was telling me that the caves tunnels go on for miles!
In this park, I got the chance to touch, hold, and kiss a snake for the first time! And it was an anaconda too! To be honest, I was scared to kiss the snake, especially since it was my first time holding one!
The most fun part of the park would have to be the “Takeuma” toy that I got to play with. Directly translated into English, it would be called a wooden horse. At first, I had a difficult time trying to walk on it, but after watching Takuya do it and using all my effort, I was finally able to walk with it! It was so much fun, I’m going to build one in Akita and walk around school with it!
One of the last things we did on that day was eat Goat Sashimi! It was delicious!! It was my first time eating sashimi that wasn’t a fish. The people at the shop we ate at were really nice too! If I ever go back to Okinawa, I’m going to eat there again!
This trip was a really really really really really really really great experience! I made so many awesome precious memories! I’m sure that I will never forget the people I met and the things I did on this trip! This would not have been possible without Takuya! Takuya drove me everywhere, treated me to all sorts of food, and introduced me to a lot of his friends! His family was especially awesome, as they made sure my stay was very comfortable! I am so very grateful for them and I want to make sure that I continue to make even more happy memories with them in the future! From the very bottom of my heart, Thank you very very very very very very very very very much Takuya and my awesome Kaneshiro Family!
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