[Japan] ~ Making most of rest of days in Okinawa

Finding the right combination of fast and slow during last days in Okinawa — 08.21.16

My second (and last) day in the Okinawan Islands was spent quietly under the sun’s soft heat before AHAREN BEACH then off I was to revisit the ‘peak season’ version of FURUZAMAMI IN ZAMAMI ISLAND. While I would have loved to beach all day, I had to catch the ferry back to NAHA for my last night filled with more aimless wandering which led me to discover this vibrant nightlife compressed in a compound of yatais.

This wandering resumed the following day, with quick pauses to grab some quick breakfast over news of storm in Tokyo and buy last-minute take-homes from the shopping stalls near the inn.

Early morning sentimental hits before leaving Tokashiki

Despite having more than enough hours of sleep the previous night, I woke up relatively already late before seven. The first thing I did was rush to the beach to see what of sunrise I can still witness. 20160821_063751

We survived the night

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Intrigued by this abandoned building near the campsite while on my way to the beach

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Expectedly, the beach was a lot less crowded that time of day. (If I remember right, there with me were those having their early morning jogs or sprint, probably taking advantage of just the right amount of warmth from the sun.)

I, for some reason, seem to have woken on not-so-good side of the bed as I was feeling gloomy sluggish. It didn’t help that I was having some misunderstanding with some friend from back home that I just felt heavy that morning. Thank goodness – sitting there on the beach, with that soft fine sand on my lazy feet, made me feel lighter while just allowing certain thoughts rush through my head. For a while I cried then lied down, staring at the clouds. Odd, but I just kept having these sentimental moments when traveling in new places lately. (Another one was in Taiwan when I had some misadventure during the lantern fest).

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Sunrise mimicking the previous day’s sunset

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These footprints show how soft the sand is

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Rock seemed still as asleep as rest of town

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# mood

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View for minutes

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There you are, sunshine – giving me some

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Shadowplay

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No crowd yet

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With the long day ahead of me, I had to snap of that mood and I was back at the site to decamp. Before eight, I was already walking to Aharen Fishing Port where I could take the boat to Zamami. (Said port was smaller than where I arrived the previous day).

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Although of no more use, this bus schedule for future reference

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When you’ve reached the fork, which way to go?

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Well, this one sure did help

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This lovely view, though

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I couldn’t be sure whether I was at the right port because there was no signage. It didn’t also help that I was literally the only person there. It was good though that I arrived there early so I told myself that I will wait for a few minutes then start looking for people to ask whether I am in the right place. While waiting, I enjoyed some more quiet time to self while taking advantage of the sun to dry clothes I used for bathing.

Luckily, after less than half an hour, a couple with their young kids came which I took as perfect opportunity to ask.

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Port in panorama

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Making practical use of the sun

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After a few minutes, I had company

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At that moment, how I wish I can read Japanese

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By 9 in the morning sharp (and this is what I really love about Japan – everything is – even in the most laidback places -on time), we were off to my next destination, an island I have already visited just a few months ago.

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Boat much smaller than I expected

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Oh goodbye for now, Tokashiki

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And a brief hello to you again, Aka!

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Before beach-lounging, the practical stuff first

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Uh-oh, and I didn’t have exact change

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And this adorable girl was staring at me during the bus ride

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Seeing the other face / phase of Furuzamami

The last time I visited this beach, it was off-peak season that I experienced the beach to myself and a bunch of hungry cats. While the unexpected beauty of the blue water and wide strip of sand made that short visit worth it, I promised myself I would come back to meet it again on its ‘undeserted’ state.

I kept that promise and glad I did. True enough, as it was summer, the place sure looked different and with a completely different vibe. As soon as I stepped out of the bus, I immediately noticed those beach chairs and umbrellas lining the shore. The water retained its amazing blue color and calm except that it was dotted with wading people.

As in Aharen Beach, there was no natural shade on the shore that I had to rent an umbrella. I was uncertain of the process but I just approached one of the stalls before going down the beach. I could not fully remember how I had this booboo. I was already sitting pretty on one when someone approached me asking me to move (most likely because the one I chose was already taken).

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My backpack so big it deserves its own beach chair

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14

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When finally settled on the correct beach chair, I did my usual wade in between sips of my beer in can while people-watching. An interesting experience while busy playing on the water was hearing this announcement over the megaphone. It sounded ordinary but it was memorable having to listen to something I couldn’t understand. Maybe it was some sort of warning or a greeting, I couldn’t say.

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Crowded or not, this place is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen so far

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Shop of course was open that day

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As if floating umbrellas

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At this point, I do not know yet this beer’s ‘secret’

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For one’s valuables

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Mine

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On my nth time to buy beer, I noticed how its alcohol content is at 0.00%. A funny moment because I seriously thought I was starting to have some minor buzz. Well, that just proved how this had some placebo effect on me.

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Uhm. This beer is fecking non-alcoholic!

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Deceived :/

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Midday home

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I could have stayed there longer but I had to go see another sight before catching the ferry back to the city. The sun was its peak at that time which could have been perfect for dips. Boohoo.

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While waiting for the bus

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Business as usual

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Air-drying myself 😀

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Awww. It seemed like I was the only one about to go home

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Search for the island’s symbol of a love story

The country is more known for Hachiko but I first heard about this bittersweet story from a Japanese friend when she made a comment on my Facebook post the first time I was in Zamami. This is about these statues of dogs Shiro and Marilyn whose love transcends the sea the separates them. In the story, Shiro who lives in Aka Island would swim kilometers of sea just to be with Marilyn who is in Zamami.

Although I knew which direction to take and the instructions seemed simple, I didn’t realize it would be quite a walk from the port to the statue, especially with the noon heat. I was on the verge of giving up after about more than 10 minutes of walking but luckily didn’t until finally I saw Marilyn’s statue facing the sea that separates her from beloved Shiro.
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From across the sea is Shiro

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Waiting for her loved one

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From another angle

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As soon as I got closer, the series of selfies began. It didn’t help that I was all tired and sweaty from the walking nothing was coming up decent. Until finally, a friendly stranger may have taken pity on me and offered to take my picture.

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And here’s a stolen picture of him

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To catch the ferry back to Naha, I made sure I was back at the port by mid-afternoon. All sweaty from the long walk, I took advantage of the airconditioning inside the tourism office while also in search of interesting finds as souvenir.

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Left my bag somewhere here

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# tablegoals

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While lined up at the ferry shortly before 3:30PM

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Shared this space with this bunch of kids

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Creepy hand

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Drinking something for a change

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Barrier to where she wanted to go

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Tuned in

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‘Cause we are both going somewhere

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Back to the city

I didn’t have anything planned for rest of the day so back again to my usual mode when in Naha – more hours of random discoveries.

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Passing under Tomari Bridge

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* Trying out soki soba (Okinawan pork rib ramen)

Again I kept another promise to self to try this restaurant people were lining up for which I saw on my first night. It was a lot less busier that I ‘skipped the line’ which was perfect since I had been craving for some full meal since I was in the island towns.

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Names of meal in English really helpful – (and of course, pictures!)

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Didn’t look as yummy though but it was and a signature Okinawan dish too!

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* Watching Japanese TV show over beer in a modest cafe at An An Guest Inn

I dropped my bag at the guest inn, cleaned myself up of the seawater, recharged my gadgets and was immediately back out on the streets – with no specific destination except the usual beer.

I did walk for a few meters but ended up going back to the cafe on the first floor of my inn. Gladly there was beer and added bonuses were TV airing some Japanese show. I vividly remember feeling quite rested just sitting there. For some reason, it’s moments like this that I remember more vividly when I go places.

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Shelf overload back at An-an Guest Inn

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Shared moment with an unknowing local

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* Walking around alleys and discovering izakayas …

But restlessness again kicked in and I knew I had to give in to my itchy feet. I started exploring again the area, resisting the urge get in every izakaya I was seeing because I didn’t my last night to end early when I’ve had more than enough of beer.

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Empty cases made useful

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Back to base quickly because all my gadgets were down with battery

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* Walking around alleys and discovering izakayas …

* … including a compound where there’s a lot of it

My feet led me to KOKUSAI STREET FOOD VILLAGE which is an area full of Japanese-style pubs. I immediately fell in love with the place’ vibe especially the lanterns. People also come solo or in small groups which is the kind of nightlife that works best for me.

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This giant ice cream again!

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From where I was earlier that day

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What’s with the pose

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It was a hot night establishment have fans on the table

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More of those case chairs

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* Dropping-by quickly in Don Quixote for last-minute take-homes

The following day kicked off early with morning shopping at a nearby Don Quixote for stuff I can bring as “pasalubong” / take-home. It was to me a practical idea because the shopping mall is open 24/7 and if I go there early, I could pack everything soonest, just leave my bag at the inn, go anywhere and come back to get it before heading to airport.

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Dried mangoes from my country represent!

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Finding Nemos

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* Some breakfast at a random place that was open

When tired from all the walking and I started to feel hungry, I just entered the first restaurant that was open and grabbed some decent meal there. I couldn’t remember why such choice but I ordered some fish meal set. It was a simple yet another memorable experience because I was eating with the locals. I managed to watch more Japanese TV but this time it was news of some heavy rains in Tokyo.

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* More random finds while window-shopping

On my way back to the inn to get my back, I of course passed again establishments occasionally stopping by to take photos of any cute stuff.

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I’d love to have beer with you

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Signature Okinawan shirts

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Before I said goodbye

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Pineapple minis

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One last beer in one of the favorite izakayas near Kokusai

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Saying goodbye with this haggard face

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Because I’d love to have her bag

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I have no more rescheduled tickets to use but I hope to again be back, Okinawa!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristina Correa (or more known to almost all people in her life as Teng) is based on the city of Manila in the Philippines and whenever she can, cools off with routine and gets her doses of happy someplace else. She doesn’t mean to inform and help plan (as obvious with her laziness with details) but hopes her stories and photos can inspire you to create your own.

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