Tag Archives: island

Sights of Okinawa’s Streets and People – Okinawa Post 5

Whenever I travel, I find it important to get an idea of what daily life is like in that place. Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and now Okinawa have given me this experience and it’s ALWAYS different.

Most of these were taken in and around Naha, the financial, social, and economic capital of Okinawa. While I certainly noticed fewer old buildings, there were plenty of cultural gems found only in Japan and in some cases, only in Okinawa.

Heiwa-Dori, the famed shopping street, during the midday. Multiple streets actually intersect in this area, and it is under cover in the style of a Japanese “shopping arcade.”

As with the rest of Asia, you’ll find traditional food everywhere. Okinawa soba, varied types of tofu, sashimi, tempura – it’s pretty limitless – and delicious.

 

Above left: a pachinko parlour named “Monaco.” Above right: this Burger King requires you to take off your shoes upon entrance. Something I’ve never seen, even in Taiwan.

The Naha monorail is a great way to get around the city. Though they only have one line, it covers the important parts of the city – like the airport.

 

Above left: I’m not sure if this place is actually popular with servicemen/women, but I liked the sign. Much of Naha is off-limits to service personnel. Above right: another restaurant. Like Taiwan, it was hard to decide where to eat.

Above: a representative of the Japanese Communist Party (yes, you read that correctly!) announces an upcoming protest. Notice the MV-22 Osprey silhouette - the Japanese are protesting its use by US Marines due to safety issues. I think the restrictions on the aircraft should pass soon, but it was a pretty noticeable symbol.

Vending machines after the rain. I loved the rain in Okinawa – it was always just enough to cool things off and never stormed all day. Vending machines are everywhere.

Ice cream shop, Heiwa-Dori.

A vending machine-controlled restaurant. You order, it prints a ticket, and you get your food. Not a bad idea.

The monorail conductor.

A fortune teller waiting for business in a Naha alleyway.

Orion beer lanterns. Orion beer is a malty beer brewed on the island itself. Similar to most other Asian style lagers.

Old and new on a Naha street.

More old and new. This intrigues me about Asia and I see it all the time in Taiwan, yet never tire of it.

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Okinawa’s People and Culture – Okinawa Post 3

These images are from a sort of park for Okinawan culture. Ryukyu Mura, or “Ryukyu Village” is a park that showcases much of the culture of the island, featuring buildings that have been moved from other parts of the island. Even if it lacks the authenticity of a real town, I’d say that this is necessary as 90% of the buildings of Okinawa were destroyed during the 1945 battle and this park does a great job preserving the culture from previous times.

One of the first things visitors will notice is the sanshin, an instrument with three strings that sounds like a banjo, is often made from snake skin, and looks similar to the Chinese bowed Erhu. The sanshin is plucked and is a mainstay of traditional Okinawan music. I’ll attach a video first, because you really need to hear it to understand it:

  

In addition, Ryukyu Mura has a bit of a “Colonial Williamsburg” feel to it as costumed staff demonstrate daily life in the Ryukyu Kingdom and in old Okinawa:

  

The rest are from a performance that

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Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (沖縄美ら海水族館) – Okinawa Post 2

In the middle of our trip, we went north to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, home to the second largest aquarium tank in the world. The main tank is by far the most popular attraction and in all honesty, my photos don’t do it justice – perhaps this video by Jon Rawlinson in Vimeo will do a better job. Make sure to watch it in HD:

My favorite shot of the aquarium was of this massive whale shark. Keep in mind that there are not just one, but two of these with plenty of room to move around!

Apparently, the aquarium is of of a few with manta rays:

Of course, there were other exhibits with smaller tanks:

The architecture of the structure itself was a bit fascinating:

…and the natural beauty of the area was pretty amazing:

 

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