Not expecting much we decided to try to rent a car again today. We somehow got lucky and got to rent a car for 3000 yen. This time we got a Mazda Demio, and it was only 3 months old! It felt quite different from the Toyota more sporty and stiffer stiffer springs. We decided we would try to do a beach once more, but it was not to be.
We ended up going to the underground naval base which served as command during WWII. It was a deep. Tunnel with many small dug out rooms. Some were filled with holes and others had generators. One of the pictures of crowded soldiers in one room looked like a Tokyo commuter train I joked, but in the end most these men died by grenades instead of being captured. Signs said they helped the locals as much as possible.
The next site we went to was the Peace Museum. It was similar to the peace museum in Hiroshima, but it talked about Japanese atrocities to the Okinawan people, other parts talked about Americans stealing land for military bases, but like always none spoke about why Japan attacked Asia. Japan was the victim again.
Outside beautiful memorial plates were lined up for blocks, next to a flame in the middle which faced the ocean. I’m not sure what doesn’t face an ocean in Okinawa, everywhere you look is an ocean! We reluctantly dropped flowers in front of the memorials because an old lady pushed it onto us.
For dinner,We decided to try a place where My friend could eat meats according to his choices. So we drove out back to American village and had Iskandar Kebab and Turkish tea. It was quite delicious and satisfied our beefy needs. We then tried to find a beach but the roads back were crowded and the beach didn’t allow swimming near the Kadena airbase so we gave up and went to the Tsuboya district to get a few souvenirs.
My friend got two glass works just before it closed up. Then we returned the car on time of course and went in search of dinner. We found an all you can eat place at the beginning of koukusaidori. The price was only 2000 yen but it had so many types of dishes, mostly Italian and many types of dessert including fruit!
They even custom made a pasta for My friend because most foods had meat extracts. This was a great way to end golden week and make up for the failed meals before. We headed back to watch more last exile and prepare for his departure.
Today was the big day for our biggest destination. Shuri castle. We got up late again and skipped breakfast. Today was our first day on the monorail and we rode it all the way to the end at Shuri. There we were intercepted by a taxi driver on his day off and he told us of a magical boat adventure with fish we could see. My friend bargained him down to 3000 yen and he reluctantly accepted. So we went and visited this place on Ojima island. It was a 30 minute taxi ride and 1500 yen for the ride. We got to see many beautiful fish and deep sea scenery through the boat. The taxi driver then dropped us back at Shuri castle and we started our adventure 1 hour and 30 minutes late. We made our way through the outside of the castle and into the main castle which was styled after Japanese and Chinese designs. There was a golden bench in the family room. After that there was the gift store which didn’t have anything impressive except high prices. I bought a coin for my coin collection then we proceeded out. Speaking of which, we didn’t have any food to eat so we decided to head to the rest stop and get some fried rice and Takoyaki. I proceeded to get bubble tea then we headed to the mausoleum. It was a rather small place. Just a big mausoleum and the museum below. We proceeded back to Shuri castle to check out the view from the park. Then we headed to the man made lake to see some strange looking ducks and ducklings hunt for fish. They were strong enough to climb the stairs and make it to the top with its ducklings. Some ducks proceeded to mate and the biggest one made hissy sounds while having something on his head rise up. We were finally do me and headed back to the station.
We went back to the hotel to get some rest before the fireworks. We walked to the harbor which was pretty close by. Thee were a lot of people there earlier for the dragon boat races and a lot of food stands. I, however had gotten taco sushi from Family Mart and so I only bought some Sanbincha to drink. We stood on the bridge to take pictures and videos and to watch traffic grind to a halt on the bridge because cars were stopping to watch the fireworks. They were really nice and colorful and only 15 minutes long. Afterwards, we proceeded down to the stands but didn’t get anything. Leaving was a little hard so we took a short cut to also see 3 guys on modded bikes. Crowds of people were taking pictures and women were asking to pose on them. After all the hard walking we decided to get some food and went to look for food. Failing to find anything we ate McDonalds and got dessert at Blue Seal. This time we got crepes with cheesecake. With a failure of a dinner we swore to try harder to look for do do the next day.
On the 4th, we got up a bit later and since it was the last day with the car we decided to head south this time. The day’s weather was nowhere near as good as the last two days, but luckily our destination was more indoorsish. We made a special stop at Aeon and had all you can eat pizza at Shakey’s. We took our time so we were running a little later. At 1:30 we headed out.
Our first journey was an old Shinto religious site in the mountains in the furthest south east of the island. Sefer-Utaki was the destination and there we found it hard to find parking for once. It was also raining on and off a little bit. So we paid for a coffee and walked up the road and found ourselves hiking up a hill with many others and seeing some oddly shaped rocks, some dripping water into clay pots. Luckily it had stopped raining before we walked it.
After returning to the car I decided to drive for once and boy was seaside driving an experience. The curves the smooth roads were only interrupted by slower cars in front of us. We arrived at our next destination, Okinawa World, in only 20 minutes and then walked for another 10. We got inside and decided to tackle the caves first.
At first we thought it was a kids only place but learned that the deepest stalagmite cave in Japan was down here. We walked and saw many things in the deep humid cave we didn’t expect to see from giant stalagmites to fish and waterfalls. When we got out 30 minutes later we decided to use our vouchers to buy drinks. We got mango and sugarcane and boy was it filling. We proceeded to watch kids play ping pong cup toss for free and people making cups but decided not to try because it would take too long. So we strode through the stores and kid areas to the Snake pits.
Inside we saw many snakes and turtles before deciding it was 6 and time to go return the car. The weather improved but it was too late to go to any beach so we decided to drop the car off an hour early. I drove us back to the hotel to drop off our stuff. Then we went to fill up the car with gas then drop it off. Since we were carless we decided to walk to our restaurant 15 minutes away.
On the 9th floor, I discovered online there was an all you can eat buffet also known as Viking! Viking is the Japanese word for buffet. For 1200 yen we ate a lots of good food and desserts. We also learned that there would be fireworks near the harbor at 8:30 the next day so we made plans for it. We decided we were really tired and headed back to the hotel 15 minutes away by foot and watched 6 episodes of Last Exile before bed.
Day 2 began with sunshine and the desire to go to a beach. We made our way North West this time to the ruins of the fallen Nakagusuku castle. There we had a taste of Sataa Andagi for 100 yen and mango ice cream before heading into the ruins. The massive ruins provided a great view of the pacific ocean and surrounding structures. To be honest most places provided nice views on the ocean on this small island.
There was a mysterious abandoned structure next to the ruins and may have been an old resort. The ruins had a lot of high points and narrow paths along dangerous cliffs but at the end there was a beautiful grass field and a wider view of the ocean. The gate way and stones were particularly well designed and climb able although dangerous.
Afterwards we walked back and proceeded to the traditional Nakamuara house. We saw a lot of Shisa, also known as lions, there and all over the area. They are really popular dogs like statues that can be found in many asian countries and act as guardians.
Then, we headed North West to find underwater boat but failed and decided to go to Manzo beach. The view was incredible a Manzo peak. It was ocean all around different peaks and below was an angry rocky blue sea. I would learn later that I received a horrible sunburn which is still with me today as a dark tan. We parked far from the traffic so the walk back was past some bushes.
Afterward, we decided we should eat, but turned into Moon beach. There we decided to eat, I got some taco rice again then we proceeded to the gift shop. There were many Shisa, Chinsuke cookies and special Okinawa only foreign goods like Rootbeer. I bought an Umi shu shirt, just like the one Kimura wore in Azumanga. We then dumped our stuff and headed to the beach. I brought swimming shots but forgot another dry pair so I swam in my boxers. In the warm light blue sea was an abundance of bleached coral we decided to pick up and bring home.
About an hour later we decided to get snacks from the gift store before heading out again. The long drive back was not complete without a stop at American village next to the US military base. There were a lot of foreigners and a lack of sushi restaurants. Parking is definitely easier to find in Okinawa. We walked around looking at people and goods and for a restaurant. We decided to eat at Bollywood Indian cuisine and I ordered the special mango curry with cheese naan while my friend got a vegetarian one with kabuli naan.
Then we proceeded to explore and check out the arcades and the waitress uniforms from a restaurant called sunrise. Cute waitress outfits were a selling point there. There were many trucks and sports cars in the area. Definitely a lot of cute girls too.
We were then on our way home to finally park in the parking garage that was denied to us last day.
On Wednesday May 2nd, I got up at 6am for my first ever flight to Okinawa. I bought a reserved ticket on the budget Skymark airline just days before my trip. The train to the airport arrived at 6:48 A.M. And just like my trip to Hokkaido the train was packed and began to fill up along the way. It was Golden week after all. Arriving at the airport, I checked in at Skymark on their check in machines. Skymark is a inexpensive discount airline that fills up quickly during holidays. I saved about 300 dollars by not flying on the other Japanese airlines. The flight was great one despite one major turbulent situation that made everyone go “ooh”. I ended up napping for a bit because I barely slept the night before, common on all my trips.
I would arrive at the airport 15 minutes later than expected. Here I met up with my friend. Despite having trouble finding a used car online, It was easier to get one offline. It cost just under 10000 yen per person for 3 days and 2 nights. We first had to get shuttled to the car rental place, the whole procedure took about an hour. We would quickly drop our stuff off at APA hotel then head to the aquarium. The tropical nature of Okniawa made it feel more like a south east Asian city rather than a Japanese one. But for the most part it was clean.
It took about 2 hours because we took a break at a truck stop to have some inexpensive udon which was delicious after a day of no food and all for under 400 yen. We both ordered the Udon tempura. After that we looked at the strange omiyage’s for example Chinsuko, which sounds a lot like cock in Japanese. We then proceeded to one of many Blue Seal which plague Okinawa and order some sugar cane soft cream. It was. Unlike any other soft cream but I would say its similar to cookie batter.
We listened to the US navy radio station and heard some pretty fitting propaganda, but otherwise good music. The next day we would actually see a Hummer convoy and troop truck. So a couple hours later we were at the 2nd biggest aquarium in the world.
Most of the aquarium was like any other aquarium except a lot bigger. The biggest and most fascinating attraction was the large tank with 3 whale sharks and a giant manta ray. It’s was on a scale we had never seen and the game on the ps3 couldn’t replicate the same feeling of grandeur. The another tanks had nothing but sharks which was also a treat.
Outside there was a beautiful beach for picture taking and a views of a neighboring island. The dolphin show the ocean and I stand and a sunset as a backdrop. It was quite spectacular and beautiful sunset. Afterwards, we headed in search of food after parking our car back at our hotel. We then stopped Koukusai dori and finally found a nice place with Taco rice before heading home to get some rest after watching Azumanga’s Okinawa episode.