Monday, January 4, 2010

Okinawa part 1

Hello Hello Hello,

Following on from Megs earlier blog about xmas I'll pick up the holiday theme and fill you all in on that. With winter taking a tight strangle hold on Japan we decided to bugger off south to the tropics. Most people have no idea that Japan has tropical islands and very few tourists every venture own that far. The prefecture of Okinawa is the most southern in Japan and when you look at a map you'd easily think it could be another country altogether. Most of the islands are actually closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan. Back in the day when samurais walked around and the west knew nothing of Japan the islands were a separate kingdom. Japan invaded, took control, then world war 2 came along, the Japs lost to America and those sods took over. The calendar ticked on until 1972 when it was returned to Japan. History lesson over.

After a 2hr train trip, 2hr flight and a 2 minute monorail trip (actually 12 but i had a theme going) we had made it to Naha the main city on the island of Okinawa. This is a good time to tell you i love monorails. Why don't all major cities have them, if i were the mayor of one they would do. They are cheap to ride, bloody fast, make absolutely no noise, don't affect the ground and are fun. Go monorails.

Day 1 - saw us head into town to explore the weird mixture of Japanese and American culture. The island still has several American military bases and some 29,ooo odd
military dorks. You could pick them out from their awful voices and prison style haircuts. Not that we saw many as they're all in base shinning their weapons. Downtown was cool, an assortment of crazy shops, arcades, markets all with bright lights, noisy shop keepers and the exact same prices, no need to shop around at all. I especially liked the market with pigs, tropical fish and so many other weird things i had no idea what i was looking at.

That aftern
oon we headed to the major castle which has been rebuilt after the Americans bombed it. I have decided a castle is a castle and every wall looks the same after a while.

Day 2 - We picked up a rental car and sped north towards the world famous aquarium. I was excited to have a gps in the flash car but it turned out to be a
nightmare as it was too complicated and of course in a language i can't understand. Luckily meg has learnt the art of map reading from the master himself (bring on the amazing race)! The aquarium was incredible.

The highlight was the amazing and HUGE tank with 3 whale sharks. Your probably rolling your eyes and thinking every aquarium is the same but oh no. This one is good. We jumped into the rental with smiles and took off again on the search for tropical beaches.

Day 3 - The car was due back at 11am so with sleep still in our eyes we drove south to the war memorial museum and p
ark and the cornerstone of peace.

I had been told this place rivals Hiroshima and even though i haven't been to Hiroshima yet i can believe it. Pretty moving see the name
s of 200,000 people who had died written all over granite slabs. A relaxing afternoon was followed by another adventure into town and all you can eat yakiniku (korean bbq). Yum.
To be continued......