We got back from Okinawa ok (just a little late due to fog in Sydney). For your interest I have attached the travel plans we put together for the trip. The version I have sent you has had minor updates, since we got back, to add in the things we found out while we were over there. eg. how to get to Hedo Misaki.
General comments on the trip
Sue and I had a good time in Okinawa and feel it was a worthwhile trip.
If we had another two days we would have included Tokashiki Island and checked out Shikina-en Gardenand Sefi-Utaki. Maybe even a stay in the Nago or Cape Manza area if time permitted.
Okinawa is an entirely different place to the parts of Japan that we have been to before. We would not recommend Okinawa as a good place to get started in Japan. We would however recommend it as a place to visit for someone already familiar with other parts of Japan
The basic 3 day package in your advertised offer would not have satisfied us at all. Extending the trip and including the stay in Okuma worked well.
Nahana Hotel was fine, although the first room had a damp smell to it (possibly due to the high humidity on the island). Service & Breakfast were good.
JAL Okuma Resort was outstanding. The service, the accommodation, meals and the facilities were all of a very high standard. Being a resort and a bit far away from alternative restaurants meant you were pretty well locked in to dinner there (unless you felt like walking the 1.3km to an alternative). Dinner at the resort worked out about 4000¥ per person.
There was nothing complicated about the express bus 111 to Nago or the bus 67 to Okuma Beach. The usual Japanese bus ticketing system applied. Although we had worked out which stop we had to get off at Okuma, the driver made sure we knew when to get off. The bus to Cape Hedo was more of a problem to work out in advance, but we did get a timetable from the Tourist information at the Yuiyui Road House and the lift to Hentona bus depot by the resort made finding the required bus terminal easy. We would have liked to do more in the Cape Hedo area but the restricted timetable and the fact that bus stops (aside from the one at Cape Hedo) were not easily identified or marked on a map meant we had to be conservative to make sure we got back to Okuma ok.
Finding places to eat in Naha was not a problem. Okinawa has it’s local food variations, but we didn’t mind that. It can be confusing choosing from the many restaurants in Kokusai-dori but there are some restaurants in the area around the Hotel Nahana which are a bit quieter. Another good place to eat was in a shopping centre near the Prefectural Museum in Omoromachi called “Naha Main Place”.
Comments on the Shurijo Castle World Heritage Tour
Doing the tour allowed us to see a number of things in the limited time we had but the flip side is that we always seemed to be rushing through things.
Looking at the map it seemed there was a lot to see in the area around the castle and we guessed we would not get much time on the tour. We made a point of spending time ourselves in the area surrounding the castle on the day before and focused on the “paid area” including the Seiden during the tour. There wasn’t a lot of point following the guide around listening to explanations in Japanese. As it was we just had enough time.
The audio guide could only be used while on the bus and had a lot of good information on most things but was light on in some things. eg. Himeyuri Kaikan
We could have done with a lot more time at the “Cornerstone of Peace” and time to visit the nearby “Okinawa Peace Prayer and Memorial Hall” which we only saw from a distance.
Okinawa World consisted of a walk through a very long limestone cave with a walk back through a shopping area. We would probably trade this with more time at previous stop.
Lunchtime meal was good.
Comments on the Northern Okinawa Tour
The guide on this tour did an excellent job and worked very hard, providing commentary, telling jokes (which we couldn’t understand but got the crowd laughing) and even singing traditional songs. Even though we couldn’t understand a lot we appreciated the amount of effort she put into it.
We liked Ryukyu Mura better than Okinawa World from the previous day. At least it was laid out as a village and you could see the traditional architecture as well as the artisans at work. We gave the Habu Show a miss.
Ocean Expo Park and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium were very good. It would have been worth staying overnight in the area so we could spend more time there.
Nago Pineapple Park didn’t really have much to see as a park. The highlight was the tastings of all the pineapple and tropical fruit products. Mind you they did have some nice fruit wines, juice cordials and cakes.
Lunch was good.
Shurijo and surrounding area
We enjoyed the walk to Hiji falls and the Ufugi Nature Museum.
Cape Hedo and the view along the bus route of the more rural areas of the island.
Naha Prefectural Museum. The history museum needs a fair bit of time. The Art Gallery is not very large.
Himeyuri Kaigun and Cornerstone of Peace. Very Reminiscent of the peace parks and museums at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Tsuboya Pottery District and museum
Lacquer ware Shop (Kakuman) in Kokusai-dori
Kokusai-dori was an interesting street to walk along with the shops and arcades. We walked the length of it several times over the duration of the trip.
I have some photos of bus stops, the hotels and strategic intersections I can send you for reference if you like. We have excess pamphlets from some places and the tours so I will probably drop them in to you at some stage for your reference. They might be useful if you get any enquiries.
Anyway thanks again for organising things for us. Aside from the glitch at the Stamford, things went quite well and we were able to enjoy ourselves. Regards, Tony & Sue