#Travel♪Winter getaway to Okinawa! Have yourself a very Merry Tropical Vacation
Here’s a brief list of just 17 fun and exciting things you
can enjoy in Okinawa during the winter! Countries are
overall fairly large places and a difference of cultures is
to be expected wherever you go. The same can be said
for Okinawa, a chain of islands stretching 1000km long
Southwest of Japan’s main island. Despite initially having
it’s own culture and civilization present, Okinawa was officially
annexed by Japan in 1868 during the Meiji restoration
and has been a part of Japan ever since.
The two extremes found in Japan are made up of Hokkaido
to the North, taking the brunt of the cold weather and snow,
and Okinawa to the South, enjoying subtropical weather
and beaches all year around. The beauty of traveling to
Okinawa during the January to March period is that it’s a
great economic choice. There are significantly less
tourists, the weather isn’t piping hot and humid, and
airfare is relatively cheap. This makes traveling to Okinawa
during the winter a great trip!
You can easily enjoy wintertime in Okinawa just as much
as summertime and we’ll show you how. Let’s proceed
to the 17 must-do things in Okinawa during the Winter.
1. Short sleeves, even in winter! Let me introduce you to “Kariyushi wear”!
Kariyushi wear represents the official business attire of
Okinawa prefecture, meaning it’s comparable to wearing
a suit! (mind blown?) It’s quite an interesting sight to
see; business meetings conducted in Hawaiian aloha
shirts, but once you realize how hot Okinawa is, you’ll
soon understand. The refreshing comfortable colors and
patterns will grow on you so we recommend picking up
some when you arrive.
However even in Okinawa the evenings may get a little
cool in the winter, plan accordingly and bring a long
sleeve shirt as well or a cardigan to tide you over
2. To ensure safe and timely travel around the island: Rental Car
Okinawa is essentially an island, and quite a small one
at that, so we recommend that you get around via
a good rental car. In comparison to Tokyo and other
metropolitan areas, Okinawa doesn’t have the infrastructure
and size to merit mass transportation systems across
the whole island. There are, taxis, bus lines and even a monorail,
but unfortunately they do not stretch across the whole main island.
3. Does this look like winter to you!?
If you rent a car, why not journey to the farthest and highest
place you can possibly get to? From the top you can look
down and imagine for a second that it’s your island, and all
the people driving across the bridge are visiting your island.
It’s really kind of fun!
This island is actually called Kouri Island only accessible by the
Kouri Island Bridge connecting it to mainland Okinawa.
Next we’ll head to the Churaumi Aquarium!
4. The most photographed place in Okinawa
There aren’t many places where you can see a humpback
whale in Japan so visiting the "Churaumi Aquarium “ will be a
great trip for that experience. But in order to visit be sure to set
aside half a days time to fully enjoy the aquarium and not feel rushed.
5. A rainy day escape
Here you can enjoy your visit even if it rains.
Similar to the beautiful sea, the forested areas of
Okinawa are impressive as well. Take in the picturesque
landscape in this cafe. Take a quick look at the picture
more carefully and you’ll notice little figures embedded on
the roof of the house. Those aren’t gargoyles, but instead
a mythical beast called “Shisa”!—Shisa are a traditional
Ryukyuan decoration resembling a mix of a lion and a
dog. This creature is said to ward off evil spirits so it’s
not uncommon to spot them on every single house in Okinawa.
This is actually one of Okinawa’s hidden attractions so be
sure to check it out! “やちむん喫茶シーサー園” (Yachimun
*While there you may run into a Yambaru Kuina, Okinawa’s
most famous and rare flightless bird. If you get the
chance, take pictures!
6. Delicious even in winter, Okinawa’s own "Orion Beer"
This is THE beer to drink in Okinawa. The taste is representative
of the deep south of Japan… LOL^^For those interested
in a bit of a more hands on experience there is an Orion
beer factory "Orion Happy Park" tour that allows your to
drink refreshing draft beer! It just so happens that we took
part in the tour (not just for the free beer of course! ^^)
You can receive up to 2 cups of Orion Beer + touring the
facility all for only 1,000 yen. Not bad huh?
7. Luxury resort accommodations are more affordable in Winter!
Aim for the more expensive luxury resorts in Okinawa during
the winter season and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. For
example, a stay at "Kanucha Resort" will give you an overlooking
terrace, circular open-air Jacuzzi, lush gardens and a golf
course! Not to mention the beautiful view of the ocean.
Though our wonderful day has come to a close, there is
still much more to do at the hotel!
Ah〜Truly a dream resort.
8. A luxury spa day
^^ Personal recommendation:
When traveling it’s a good idea to pamper ones self as much
as possible! Not only are you refreshing your body, but
also your mind. Nowadays you can receive aroma massage
therapy just about anywhere, but it takes on a whole new
meaning on an island. After all, you won’t just feel relaxed
from the massage, but also from the whole environment.
9. Marine-related activities can be enjoyed even in winter
To visit Okinawa and not go to the ocean is almost like having
a snow day but not playing in the snow. As long as it’s Okinawa,
there seems to always be a way to enjoy the sea. Using a
specially designed high-speed smooth riding boat we
were whisked away to go see coral reef. However,
normally from just above the water, it’s hard to get a
good view of the coral without dipping your head into
the water. The unique design of the boat placed a single
viewing glass at the floor of the boat giving us all a clear
view of the wonderful coral and fish that line the seabed.
The beautiful colors and graceful nature of the fish will
haunt my dreams forever!
10. The Okinawan Izakaya Experience!
It doesn’t matter when you visit Okinawa, but you must definitely
experience the Japanese style pubs called “Izakayas”. On
our first night, we picked an izakaya and were treated to live
Okinawan original music using the snakeskin-wrapped,
3-string guitar called “Sanshin”! To give you an example of
tavern’s atmosphere, soon as the music started, everyone
was up and out their seats dancing. There’s something to
be said about a culture of people who enjoy the simple
things in life, making every moment count and enjoying
their time with one another.
The tavern is located in the downtown area of Naha about
15 minutes by taxi from the international street called Kokusai.
11. Okinawa Folk Village "Ryukyu Village"
The warmth of the local Okinawans left us all star-spangled.
Although we had arrived on a somewhat misty, chilly day,
they greeted us with ear-to-ear smiles and had genuinely
cared that we came to visit.
The Folk Village called "Ryukyu Village is a throwback
to the old days of Okinawa before the influence of
mainland Japan. It’s a cool experience to see that they
have hung on to, and are still proud of their unique culture.
One minute we were watching the performance, the next
we were yet again out of our seats dancing with the
Kingdom of Ryukyu’s residents. Another experience I’m sure
none of us will never forget for years to come.
12. Winter attractions: Ryukyu Village’s "Sata Andagi"
Just like Hawaii and pancakes, when you think of Okinawa,
an image of Sata Andagi comes to mind! "Sata Andagi" is
a ball shaped doughy Okinawan sweet similar to donuts.
Water actually isn’t used at all but instead sheep milk, flour
and sugar make up this tasty treat. To get the most out
of the taste, we recommend downing Okinawa’s own special
blend of jasmine tea called “Sanpin-cha”.
Once you buy one, you won’t stop so be prepared to buy
out the stock like we did!
13. Soul Music ... the Okinawan traditional music experience
If you go to the Ryukyu village you can participate in something
truly special. You can use traditional Okinawan instruments
to reproduce some of the most well-known songs in Okinawa,
similar to the ones played in the tavern earlier! But we must
warn you, although the learning curve is pretty steep the time
you spend learning the song will be quite enjoyable. Let’s
give it a try!
14. Even in Winter the beach is okay!
No heater necessary! The beach in Okinawa is a great
place for a love story. Imagine two star-crossed lovers,
playing in the water, as the sea breeze sways their
kariyushi from side to side. The water is exceptionally
clear, clean and safe at "Manza Beach” and there is no
charge to enter the beach or park (yes, some of the nicer
beaches charge you…yikes!) . Grab your significant other
and plan an excursion to this remote location now!
15. The Best combination for Okinawan Winter foods, Chili Oil
When the temperature drops, lets face it everyone wants to
eat something hot to bring their body temperature back up.
Okinawan's are no different, (though they consider a sunny 72
degree day chilly) and their food of choice is "Okinawa soba".
Soba is buckwheat noodles in piping hot broth similar to noodle
soup (can also be served chilled).
The "Penguin Cafeteria Deli”
is one such place offering delicious Soba noodles. However they
also offer special chili oil called “Ra-yu”, originating from
Ishigaki island. The combination of the noodles and the chili
oil create a flavor explosion in your mouth you will remember
well after your trip is over. (our mouths are still tingling)
Located on the first floor of the HAPiNAHA building.
16. Okinawa’s specific Food Culture
Various salts produced from the fresh Okinawan sea and other
unique products line the shelves of the Marche souvenir shop
where tradition and modernity can be picked up easily like
rice. HAPiNAHA (formerly a Mitsukoshi department store),
gives you the ability to find souvenirs your wouldn’t be able
to normally in other shops on Kokusai Street.
17. The peak of Okinawa travel: SHOPPING
Wearing Kariyushi, you can drive to most tourist attractions
and sample Okinawan “culture” or you can just live it. The
truth is Okinawa is developing rapidly to cater to its growing
international population. Our trip has brought us to many
far-reaching destinations in Okinawa, but we’ve saved
the best for last.
Our most important destination is located in the capital of
Okinawa, Naha, and on the main strip of Kokusai International
Street. An impressive shop called HAPiNAHA is shopping mall
catered to travelers seeking a piece of Okinawa. Due to its
location, there are many souvenirs from all over Okinawa
and it’s neighboring islands.
If these 17 reasons for visiting Okinawa during January to
April have sparked your interest then you should book your
tickets now! Stay tuned for more specific info from our
journey to the Ryukyu Kingdom (what Okinawa was
Coming Soon ...