My parents and I were in Shanghai together because they tagged me along for a business trip. Instead of flying home with my parents, I asked permission to visit some friends in Japan. Yes, I asked permission, I still do, even at then-27, and for some unexplainable reason, my dad said yes.
*My dad is so strict that my sisters and I have a midnight curfew even in college.
Okinawa is just a 3-hour flight from Shanghai and I’m used to flying alone between Manila and Davao when I was studying so it was not a big deal.
The first thing that reminded me that I’m actually traveling alone is the Japanese Immigration. It’s so much easier (and I guess unsuspicious) when I traveled with my parents or friends. Since I’m alone this time, I got asked so many questions – what I’m doing in Japan, who am I visiting, are they Japanese citizens, how long am I staying, where am I staying. I never had problems with the immigration before.
*Well, except for that time in Russia when the immigration officer told me I’m not the same person as the one in my passport and got escorted by security and had to explain to a translator that it’s not my fault I lost weight over the years. haha. Kidding. They thought I’m a different person because I changed my hair so much. I had long curly hair on my passport photo, long straight hair on my visa, and I showed up with a short hair. Is a girl not allowed to play with her hair? They checked the moles on my face (coz there’s a lot) to verify it’s really me. hahaha.
Anyway, the Japanese immigration thinks I’m a harmless person and allowed me in to their wonderful country. Yay! Hello Okinawa! Some friends asked me if have I explored mainland Japan that much to decide to explore ‘off the beaten path’. Truth is, I’ve never really heard of this city before. I thought the southernmost part of Japan is around the Fukuoka area but apparently, beyond the sea is this group of islands, and I’m here primarily because this is where my friends are stationed.
Okinawa is not like the other Japanese cities I’ve been to, except for the vending machines that are placed in every corner. haha. From what I saw, architecture in Okinawa isn’t typical Japanese. Maybe I haven’t explored enough because my hotel is by the American Village.
I was lucky that when I was there, my friends had shifts at work. The original plan was that I have the day to myself to explore on my own and then we’d meet up after work. Because of their work shifts, I have a friend for the day and another one for the night.
These are the places we went to:
1 The American Village
There’s an American Village in Oki possibly because of the many US Military bases in their small island. Most establishments here accept USD. Their conversion is USD 1 = JPY 100.
1 Hayate Maru Ramen
This is located in the American Village, so expect more American diners than Japanese, but their ramen really is so good.
2 Linya Ramen Restaurant
Yes, I was at two ramen places in the short time I was there because my friend loves ramen so much. 🙄 Yes, you, JCT. 😂
3 Coco’s Curry House
Still a few minutes walk from the gate. They serve their curry with the spiciness of your liking rated from 1-10, and serving is generous so if you’re not super hungry, and just came here to try their food, discuss sharing with a friend.
4 Yumemaru Mihama
This place is amazing! I’m so glad my boyfriend brought me here. It’s in the American Village too, up the escalator from the arcade, a short walk from my hotel. If I knew this place from the first night I arrived, I would have eaten here my whole stay. Every. Single. Meal. 😋😋😋 It’s an eat-all-you-can barbecue, with unlimited everything, including short ribs, Short Ribs, and drinks. And they have Iced Oolong Tea. Oolong! It’s so difficult to find ‘real’ oolong tea in the Philippines and the one they serve here is just perfect. I’m already salivating thinking about it right now. 🤤🤤🤤
5 Round One
Oooh. If I was traveling alone, or if I decided for myself where to go while I was in Oki, I never would have even thought of coming here. But my friend brought me here and I’m glad he did. It’s a 6-storey arcade filled with all sorts of games and sports, and has a whole floor just for claw machines! It’s crazy! I didn’t expect it but I had so much fun while we were here.
6 Stairway to Heaven
It’s a hill you climb up to have a an overlooking view of the city. I’d be honest, we haven’t really gone up the hill because it was closed when during my visit due to an on-going construction. Also, I think cab drivers don’t really know this place. We had to lead the driver the way using Google Maps, and there aren’t cabs in the area too so we had to walk our way back to the hotel.
7 Camp Foster
This is where my friends work. One of them got me a pass to show me around. I’m not so sure if I could take photos so this is all I have. 😁
8 The Beach Tower Okinawa
This is the hotel where I stayed during my visit. I took this photo with my drone, but I was immediately reprimanded and so this is the only photo I have. 😆 They have beach access, although swimming wasn’t allowed when I was there because they say it’s jellyfish season. They also have a heated pool, which was open even in December, when most pools are closed. They also have an onsen, you know that hot spring spa thing where people walk around with nothing on. 🙈 Those who personally know me would know I ain’t going in there. 😬😬
Okinawa holds a very special place in my heart.
So much memories, so much happiness and love.