07:30 again the optimistic initial plan was to wake up at 07:00 and to get to the Shurijo castle as early as possible. Well in the end we woke up at 07:30 and were ready to go at around 08:00. This week is just jinxed but oh well.
On our way to the castle we wanted to get some snack from a convinience store for breakfast. We decided to go to the Family Mart which google proudly showed us not to be too far away. However we struggled to find it until we realized, that this Family Mart was in fact part of the Hotel Novotel !
09:00 arrived at the castle. The castle has been bombed in the WW II as well and has been rebuilt. It is quite small but if I’d were a king I would feel way more comfortable here since it has the essential facilities but is decently small enough to not have to wander around too much. You can recognize that the architecture is not quite as Japanese as you are used to. Chinese culture had a huge influence in building the castle because before Okinawa was part of Japan it used to be an independent kingdom called Ryukyu and had strong relationships with the Chinese kingdom regarding trades. When Japan closed it’s borders it was an important middle man to trade between China and Japan.
11:00 got back to Naha Airport in time and heading back to Tokyo Narita Airport.
08:00 somehow even though we had plenty of time to sleep it was still a tough wake up to get the breakfast.
10:00 last snorkeling round. Yesterday i already rented a waterproof case like thing for my smartphone which i will test to it’s limit today. I first tested it without my smartphone inside until i was sure that it worked. Although quite inconvenient the underwater pictures were unexpectedly super good.
15:00 getting our Shuttle bus to the 16:00 ferry.
17:00 arriving at Naha again and hurrily headed to the hostel we stayed in to get my purse back. The whole 19000 yen were still inside! Those Japanese people are just too honest.
18:00 getting to our hostel. Again this time there was no receptionist. So what to do? We called the attached number and the guy told us to just take the keys out of the box of the front desk and leave the money behind on our bed in case we don’t see any staff member anymore.
19:00 eating out one last time in Okinawa with original okinawian food.
23:00 sleep. I got some headache since 20:00 and it got stronger by hour. Since i made sure to hydrate myself carefully another culprit might be the sun, which hit me directly on my head for quite some time while we were out snorkeling.
08:00 wake up and eating a small breakfast consisting of meatballs and rice from the Konbini.
09:30 returning the rental car and hastily grabbing our reserved ticket for the 10:00 ferry ride to the Tokashiki port at the Kerama islands. We had some last minute panic moments since we did not find the ticket booth at first sight but eventually managed to get our reserved tickets. The ferry was quite cramped and there was only little space on the first deck’s room however even though a bit uncomfortable it was a nice feeling to just lie down while the ship sways gently from left to right.
11:00 arrived at the port in Tokashiki. We are getting picked up by our hotel following a short 30 minutes shuttle bus ride. It seems like we got the dormitory room for ourselves tonight and in general seemed to be the only guests at the hotel (?).
12:00 after unpacking and some fine lunch we were finally getting ready for beach action.
14:00 some emotional Rollercoaster right there: It seems like I forgot my wallet at the last hostel which i was not aware of until the staff actually contacted me. As seen later nothing was stolen from it. Still i had to lock my credit card. Right after locking the credit card there appeared some unknown negative transaction. In hindsight it was just a balancing transaction to transfer money from my old to my new credit card but it was still a shocker.
The snorkeling tour guide was full and not even possible to reserve online, so alternatively our plan for today was to go kayaking to a nearby island and try out snorkeling by ourselves over there. Kayaking was quite fun but as one would have guessed tiring. We effectively only did it for 30 minutes anyway just o get to the nearby island and back. The island had a fantastic rocky mountainish surface to explore and climb. Surprisingly although some stone surfaces were extremely hot other surfaces were on the contrary quite cold. With the crystal blue and clean water we were also able to enjoy some snorkeling. To be honest I was not too excited by the whole snorkeling sports thing but the 30 minutes we actually did do this was super interesting and game changing for me.
19:00 sunset at the nearby observatory and dinner. After it gets dark nothing is really going on anymore.
09:00 This seems like the norm now. The actual plan was to get up very early and drive to the Daikirenzan, however both of us were extremely exhausted by God knows what so we just stayed and relaxed until 10:00.
11:20 driving along the coast we wanted to get a small taste of the clear water. So we stopped at the next possible spot and walked for a little detour along the beach.
13:00 arrived at the Daikirenzan. Our mistake was to assume that it was only a parking lot with a fee and a restaurant so instead went to a nearby parking lot to leave our car there. We begun some random hikes around that area until we arrived at the okinawa rail observation deck which features a high observation platform in Form of a… bird.
16:00 after walking around the beach and coast area as well as some climbing action we finally arrived at cape Hedo and could get our deserved lunch. The wind was strong and the waves stronger. Although located so remotely, the cape is very pleasantly maintained and features toilets, vending machines,a restaurant and a food stand.
Now here is what we did not consider or better said plant out badly. The Daikirenzan is actually a national park with set opening hours and we just so happened to arrive at the closing time. This should have been easily research able beforehand but we just overlooked that fact. A little bit disappointed we headed to our car to get to our Hostel in Nara.
The original plan also dictated “since we get up early and finish the northern cape area early, we could head back early and see the memorial monument”. Well that didn’t happen obviously. At least we could manage to get some incredible sunset action.
21:00 our hostel is a little bit run down but it suffice for the night.
09:00 headed to the aquarium. Our initial plan was to even start the day earlier. Although the aquarium opens at 08:30 there already seem to be a lot of people around. The area consists of the main building which displays the aquarium and interesting knowledge around marine science as well as a flower park and outdoor dolphin pool. At set times specific shows will start such as feeding the fish in the aquarium, introductory movie around corals or the dolphin show. We constructed a good plan which allowed us to attend the main shows in the early morning and in the afternoon we would go through the aquarium. At around 13:00 you do feel that there are a lot more people especially children around.
14:30 we finished the aquarium and went to the nearby beach. We noticed in hindsight though, that we did miss the flower garden area. The nearby beach was divided into 3 parts and had plenty of space and even a beach volleyball net. A free parking garage was also located around 5 min away by foot.
18:00 we head to our Hostel but did make a detour to the heart rocks. Supposedly the rocks look like rocks, which they kind of do but not as impressive as you would expect for a google entry with the name heart rock.
21:00 getting home
Some corals are in a symbiotic relationship with plants called zooxanthellae which live inside the skin of the coral animals. The zooxanthellae provide carbohydrate food for the coral. Apparently those corals form the coral reefs and are only seen in clean, relatively warm water with good sun lights due to the requirements of the photosynthesis process.
Fetus of a great white shark feeds on milk and unfertilized eggs in the uterus of the mother shark.
07:00 Day starts after getting home from a nightclub at 03:00
12:00 arrival at the airport and sorting out which hostel to book for the night. The flight by Ana airline took around 2h and was quite cheap, around 90 euros per person round-trip. There seem to be special domestic offers available for foreigners who then do get a huge discount for such flights.
14:00 getting our car at Nissan car rental. Getting there from the airport was fairly easy and it is centrally located – convinient for the return of the car. I never did rent a car but the process was unexpectedly smooth.
14:50 getting to the nearby ramen restaurant they have a very unique way of preparing their food. You can chose various options how your ramen gets prepared such as broth thickness, noodle cooking time, etc. Amazing customization.
15:30 on our way to our hostel by car. It rains heavily which makes me even more tired. Having only slept 3 hours without breakfast I am very lucky to have a good friend who is willing and able to drive.
19:00 arrive at guesthouse and ready to cook
A day to day diary of our trip to okinawa.
10:00 wake up in Kyoto at a friends flat. He just freshly moved in with his girlfriend. The flat has 2 rooms, looks spacious, is quite centrally located and i think they mentioned they pay the same price as i did in Tokyo with my 6 sqm room. Today i am going back to Tokyo with a friend but before that we would go to Osaka first.
15:30 arrived in Osaka and heading to the Osaka castle. The castle has been rebuilt and although the outside looks quite old the interior is renovated to act as a museum. The entrance fee for the castle is 600 yen and it does pay off. You don’t only get a nice city view but also a very informative museum. A very interesting floor tells the story of Hideyoshi and it goes like this: Hideyoshi was born into a poor family and ended up being a very determined and loyal soldier under Nobunaga Oda – a warlord who wanted to unite Japan. After a revolt Nobunaga was killed and Hideyoshi became his successor in uniting the nation. During his battles he also encountered Tokugawa Ieyasu, first as enemy after that as an ally, who after his death became one of the major influencer on how to manage the country. Tokugawa Ieyasu would then become the man who successfully united Japan.
The surrounding park is also worth seeing and we should have probably planned more time to actually sightseeing this area.
20:00 we were heading to our night bus stop but did make a detour to Dotonbori. It seems like it is the more downtownish area of Osaka. Walking through this area had a very similiar feeling to Shinjuku. There were a lot of people and confusing advertisement lights.
After that we accidentally encountered a 5 story large building dedicated to sex toys.
The last weird occurrence was a cafe called cafe earth. You were not obliged to order anything but could just sit down and use their WiFi. It seemed to serve more as a private club and meeting room than a cafe but the owner was very nice and it was just a good place to sit and calm down for a bit.
23:00 getting our bus to Tokyo.
11:00 wake up, breakfast and heading to Nara. The hostel i stayed in for the last couple days was unbelievable cheap still clean with a nice service. The breakfast was free and included even fruits such as grapes, pears and melon. I would have never thought to be so happy about such small things.
11:50 arrived in Nara directly at the Kintetsu Station. Right after i left the station i already saw a dear standing directly in the middle of the street. After the initial surprise though i got used to seeing dears all around the place. The dears learned that bowing results into a treat and they do so very persistently now. At first it is very cute but when a male dear with huge antlers aggressively bows before you to get a treat it can get dangerous very fast. Additionally the dears do poop everywhere and at some places it does smell slightly weird.
The Nara park is huge with temples here and there. I would say you can enjoy at least half a day with just walking around and seeing the sights.
There was one specific sight in particular which i was interested in. It was the biggest bronze Buddha statue in the world at the Todai-ji temple (500 yen fee). Note that the biggest bronze statue is located in India and the biggest Buddha statue is located in China.
16:00 on my way back home I walked along a very beautiful green and oldish path. To be honest that path is what I actually would have expected from the Tokaido trail.