Okinawa World

Okinawa world

After a sobering start of the day at the WWII Peace Memorial, we caught a taxi over to Okinawa World.

First up, we walked through some caves: cooler than the outside. But also: they were damp. Lots of places submerged in water. Beautiful to walk through, but not exactly the kind of place I’d want to grow up in.

There was an impressive gift shop that the husband and I raced through: we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the, ah, important stuff. We thought we’d have a chance to circle back if there was time, but, alas, Okinawa World is set up in a sort of linear fashion.

There were a few shows that we just happened to miss, but the craft village was fun. The mother-in-law and I wove our own bookmarks! The father-in-law tried his hand at some leatherwork.

We had a very late lunch: the husband had a wagyu pizza and I had some wagyu skewers. Very possibly the best beef I have ever put into my face. The in-laws were there, too … I … think I stole one of the mother-in-law’s beef skewers. Because, again: the best beef I have ever put into my face.

The husband and I watched a snake show … there was a race between a snake and a mongoose? But the animals didn’t cooperate, I think they were kind of over the whole performing for an audience thing. As we were leaving the show, we saw that they had headsets that would have explained the show to us in English. I guess we’ll know for next time!

I wish we had been able to spend more time in Okinawa World, it’s another one I’d add to the list! It’s a fun tourist trap that’s got a little bit of everything: natural wonders, cultural shows, hands-on craft workshops, museums, food, souvenir shopping and even a zoo. (Snakes. Mongooses. Giant Okinawan bats!) Japan, man. Something for everyone!

From there, we caught a taxi back to the hotel. I think that may have been the night we got “room service”: which was very cheap, but also turned out to be microwave dinners. I’d recommend running down to the corner for some conbini food, if you’ve got any energy left.

Okinawa: Getting Around Without a Car

WWII Peace Memorial

For Okinawa, the best way to get around is to rent a car. Which … we did not do. Driving on the wrong side of the road in a place where I wouldn’t be able to read the road signs sounded all kinds of stressful, so we opted to make do with public transportation, tour buses, and taxis.

The airport is in Naha, so I found us a hotel in Naha. There is a monorail, but it’s pretty underwhelming compared to the trains we rode in Tokyo and Osaka. The monorail would have taken us from the airport to our hotel (I planned it that way!) but we opted for a taxi because managing our bags on public transportation didn’t sound like a fun time. It was just a 10 or 15 minute ride away, so the taxi fare wasn’t bad.

We took the monorail to Shuri Castle. Or … to close to Shuri Castle, anyway.

We mostly walked to Kokusai Dori street, but we tried out the monorail once. I think it was just one monorail hop from the hotel to Kokusai Dori, so it wasn’t a huge savings in steps for the youngish and healthyish.

We took the Hip Hop Bus to the Churaumi Aquarium and American Village.

And it was a day of taxis for the WWII sites and Okinawa World. There are city buses that will take you there (and our hotel was right across from the bus station!) and the Hip Hop Bus has a tour that goes to Okinawa World, but we wanted a specialized day of touring, so taxis it was! Split across 4 adults, the fares weren’t terrible (though I can’t quite remember what they were?)

Taxis in Okinawa: the drivers will tell you they speak no English. But then half way through the ride will start whipping out grammatically correct English sentences! So they are overly modest. If you stick to simple sentences (like even just the location name of where you want to go) then you should have no problem. (Now that I think about it, one of our taxi drivers really didn’t speak English. It was a lot of him typing stuff into his phone to translate into English, and us typing stuff into our phones to translate into Japanese. Technology is awesome!)

There is a taxi app I downloaded to call taxis, and we did use it to call our first taxi on our taxi day. But then we were able to pick up taxis at the taxi drop off area at the other stops. So it wasn’t necessary to have (the hotel could have called us a cab if we hadn’t been able to hail one on our own), but it gave me comfort that I could call a cab if I needed to and we wouldn’t get stranded 15 miles from our hotel.

So: Okinawa without a car is totally doable. If you are scared of foreign-driving: buses, taxis and monorails will get you on your way!