Okinawa: Ocean Expo Park Tropical Dream Center (Photo Esssay)


Great value domestic flights in Japan

I’ve been meaning to cover Japanese domestic flights, but my friend Mark Popelier over at Destination Japan beat me to the punch! Check out his fantastic rundown of affordable options.

Destination Japan

Stretching over more than 3000 km Japan is served by an extensive domestic air network. In this article the discount air ticket system for foreign travellers is explained. Unlike for the Asian traveller who can easily fly directly to the islands of Okinawa, Kobe, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka and other big cities, the travellers from America, Europe and Africa arrive almost always in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda).

Passing by Passing by Mt. Fuji leaving Narita Airport

Air or train

Although Japan has one of the best train networks in the world if you are on a tight schedule and connecting to a place more remote from Tokyo then a domestic flight is your best option. Indeed, for foreign visitors the domestic airfares are more favourably priced compared with the cost of the Shinkansen (high speed) trains. This is mainly because there are a variety of special discounts available for foreign travellers that makes flying in Japan great…

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Okinawa: Music, Dancing and Snakes at Okinawa World

If you’re a student of Japanese culture, it can be a little hard to see how Okinawa is different from the rest of Japan. Although they were an independent kingdom for centuries, they were conquered by Japan 400 years ago—that’s a long time for a conquered people to maintain their culture identity with integrity. But the Ryukyuan people are persistent, and the Japanese benefitted from the façade of “business as usual” in the kingdom for centuries, so not as much has been lost as for other indigenous people. Although there are many places around the island that showcase traditional Ryukyuan culture, one of the most popular is Okinawa World.

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Accommodation Review: Hotel Senkei

Photo credit: Hotel Senkei

There’s a mystique to traditional Japanese inns: the  the quiet shushing of screen doors, the sweet grassy smell of the tatami, proprietors in fine silk kimono pouring diamond-clear sake into delicate porcelain cups. Unfortunately, these inns come with a very high price tag, and are often difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Japanese. How to find the perfect blend?: Hotel Senkei.

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Below the Surface: Thoughts from Okinawa

We woke up to our third morning in Okinawa and drove out to Okinawa World, a theme park structured around traditional Okinawan culture and crafts. We tasted pineapple so good it made me wonder if the pineapple in Oregon are knockoffs, Mom and Dad were stuffed into traditional dress for staged photos, we saw shiisa in a broad range of styles and prices, and we watched an eisa dance that’s performed four times daily in this park that’s open every day of the year.

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Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

The Okinawan islands are well-known for their coral reefs and the tropical fish that populate them, but it can be hard to see them all in one place even if you go snorkeling—I mean, maybe you see an angelfish or a grouper, but what about whale sharks? What about sea cucumbers? What about the fish that you wish you could see, like the venomous stonefish? You can see all these fish and more at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium!

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Okinawa: Jungle Ziplining at Forest Adventure Park

In Okinawa, it’s impossible to ignore that the plants have it out for us. They grow out of every available space, whether that’s the cracks in the sidewalk, the sides of buildings—wherever. The jungle is an impenetrable force so powerful it seems impossible that it’s only seventy years old; more like 700. I wanted to see it more closely, but didn’t relish the thought of a machete as my primary mode of transportation. No, I’m thinking zipline, as at Forest Adventure Park.

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