Okinawa: Naha & Zamami
Okinawa is that kind of Japan but kind of not place, due to history. I got to check it out in 2011.
We started off by taking a boat from Naha, Okinawa's main city, to Zamami island, an island just west of the main city. As we pulled up to the dock, a happy young woman from the hostel that we were staying at was waiting to warmly greet us.
Zamami Island is small and very walkable, with little beach coves every so often. The main area is condensed, so getting across it takes only several minutes on foot. It has a very small community vibe being that it's a small town, one where everyone knows everyone. People are extremely laid back, casual and friendly.
We went in late April/early May, and the water was still quite cold. The beaches are swimmable, but due to the temperature, not the most comfortable. We wore wetsuits one day, then toughed it out without them on another. The water is clear, and in some places there is an abundance of fish, but there are sea snakes that hide in the coral so beware of them.
Here are a few food spots on Zamami Island that I'd recommend:
Marumiya is a good place on the island for dinner. Soki soba, Okinawa's version of ramen, is fat noodles and a nice piece of pork in a light broth. If you've had Hawaii saimin, the flavor is very similar.
After our stay on Zamami Island, we made a quick stop at another neighboring island, Aka. Getting back on the boat, we headed back to Naha city.
Naha is a lot bigger as it is the central city in Okinawa. The vibe is very different as well, it's culturally quite diverse and feels somewhat like a mix of Japanese, American and Chinese cultures. There are a lot of businesses geared to internationals, a big reason is due to the big American military presence there.
The nearby Churaumi Aquarium is one of the major attractions as it's one of the most well known aquariums in Japan. It will take a big chunk out of your day as it's big and not central, but it houses a wide range of animals, even whale sharks.
Foods aren't any different from what we had on Zamami, but we did get our fill of seafood at Makishi Food Market.
Makishi Fish Market
KEEP IN TOUCH:
A Hakone stay at Lake Ashi with at Hotel de Yama, overlooking the Hakone Azalea Fair.
A peaceful Hakone getaway at the Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara, a luxurious boutique ryokan with private onsen hot spings.
Watching the first sunrise of the new year from atop a mountain in Japan.
A detour stop in Nakano city, a rural district in Nagano prefecture with amazing apples.
Snow monkeys and onsen hot springs in an old Japanese town in the mountains.
A one-day trip to Matsumoto, a city in the Nagano prefecture near the Japanese Alps.
Japan’s fall colors are absolutely beautiful, and Kyoto is one of the best places to go for them.
A great night in Nikko at Hoshino Resorts KAI Kinugawa.
A weekend trip to Nikko, one of the closest UNESCO World Heritage spots to Tokyo.
A day trip to a big Buddha statue and some historical sights in the seaside neighborhood.
A day trip to Koshu, Yamanashi, known for some of the best grapes in Japan.
Here are my favorite authentic Hakata ramen spots after living in the area for five years.
Must-see cherry blossom locations around Tokyo - popular spots, lesser known areas and one that’s only open for 3 hours.
In addition to its mega-famous delicious Kobe beef, there are also a lot of other delicious eats to have in this international port city.
This upscale onsen resort getaway was fitting enough for a US President.
There's a different side of Kyoto that goes beyond the temples and shrines, and they are worth experiencing.
Good at any time of year, Kyoto is best known for its temples and shrines. Here are some to definitely see.
Known for being Japan's capital of comedy, Osaka is an outgoing, lively, party city.
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Fukuoka city is Kyushu's biggest, and rated as amongst the best places to live in the world.
I lived in one of Fukuoka's secret cherry blossom spots.
One of the most famous onsen hot spring resort areas in Japan, Hakone makes for a nice weekend trip right outside of Tokyo.
A little Europe-inspired town at the northern tip of Kyushu.
A day trip to relax at a power spot.
Delicious kurobuta pork at its capital in south Kyushu.
A short getaway to Kyushu's famous onsen city.
Spending a night in Oita's quaint little onsen town.
Left out of itineraries a bit too often, Hiroshima is one of the more overlooked cities in Japan.
Two trips to Sapporo for the Snow Festival and a little snowboarding trip to Niseko didn't disappoint.
A couple of days to taste Nagoya, one of Japan's biggest cities and home to an iconic castle.