A Beach-Hopping, Soba-Fueled Road Trip Through Okinawa, Japan

by Nomadiclifes
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Long a vacation hotspot for Japanese vacationers searching out a little sand and surf, subtropical Okinawa is subsequently getting its turn inside the highlight, way to increasingly flights from the mainland. It feels fairly one of a kind than the city vibes of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka: In large element, that is because Okinawa existed for hundreds of years as part of its own kingdom, giving the island its own wonderful culture, dialect, and cuisine. (It didn’t emerge as part of Japan till 1879.)
Another purpose it feels different is because it’s greater harking back to an area like Hawaii than the aforementioned tech-forward metropolises: as a part of Japan’s southernmost prefecture (also referred to as Okinawa), Okinawa island has vibrant coral reefs, lush rainforests, seashores galore, and common annual temperatures that rarely dip underneath fifty eight levels Fahrenheit. Its citizens—way to some aggregate of weight loss program, solar, and life-style—live the longest in the international.

 


Since World War II, Okinawa has additionally had a sturdy U.S. Navy presence, which remains controversial. As the daughter of instructors who taught on base, I grew up on Okinawa, and feature spent endless hours using the island, north to south, east to west, and all round. But considered one of my favorite drives is on the island’s part of Route fifty eight, which runs from the capital of Naha to the northernmost point of Okinawa right. I took my husband to Okinawa for the primary time remaining 12 months, and we spent some days winding alongside the coast, preventing at waterfalls, and seeing centuries-vintage ruins. Here’s how we did it.
The journey: Three days, 70 miles on Route 58 (plus a few detours)
Japan’s National Route 58 clearly spans numerous disconnected island chains, from Kagoshima in the Kagoshima Prefecture to Naha inside the Okinawa Prefecture. This street journey makes a speciality of the motorway’s “fourth” section, in Okinawa. To get to Naha, your starting point, take a three-hour flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
When to go
There’s sunshine and conceivable heat if you go to in spring (early March to early May) or autumn (October and November). The prefecture gets rainier in May and June, and typhoons are frequent in July and August.

What to pressure
The smaller the car, the higher, as a number of Okinawa’s roads off of the highway are slender with a bevy of blind spots. Pick up a car from Times Car Rental in Naha, which has a free trip from the airport.

Day 1
Okinawa has a cuisine all its own, and there’s no better place to attempt it than at Makishi Public Market off of Kokusai Dori, Naha’s primary artery. Browse nearby specialties—including goya (sour melon), shikuwasa (a citrus fruit), and purple candy potatoes—and for breakfast, pick out some seafood and feature it cooked available on the market’s 2d ground for around $5. If caffeine instead of tempura is greater your morning pace, my Naha go-to is The Coffee Stand, that’s housed in an antique shipping box nearby and serves some of the island’s best coffee and pour-overs.

Next up is Shuri Castle, which was the previous palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom throughout the 14th century and nearly completely destroyed at some point of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. It’s for the reason that been reconstructed based totally on pics and ancient facts, and reflects the island’s varied affects: the fortress changed into constructed the use of Ryukyuan limestone, and has crimson lacquer and architectural elements paying homage to China’s Forbidden City. Once accomplished wandering the grounds, do as we did and head 10 mins north up winding hills for lunch at Shimujo, which serves steaming bowls of Okinawan soba with gradual-cooked pork in an old home exact National Tangible Cultural Property through the authorities. (Get there by using eleven:30 a.M., lest they promote out, which has been my enjoy a ways too oftentimes.)
Okinawa is known for its unglazed Tsuboya pottery, made the usage of soil in a timber-fired kiln. One of my preferred locations to peer it being made is Yachimun no Sato, or Yomitan Pottery Village, home to extra than forty artisans. There’s an expansive parking zone at the beginning of the complex, and shops and studios are related by way of a route quality explored walking. Potters display their wares on tables in front of their homes, however every body can wander back to their studios and spot them in action. Items, such as bowls and curly-maned shisa, which resemble a pass between a dog and a lion and are seen definitely everywhere on Okinawa, begin at $five and run into the masses.
For dinner, it’s really worth forgoing fifty eight and heading east for taco rice, a famous Okinawan dish that is quite a good deal what it seems like: taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes over a mattress of rice. My pick for dinner is King Tacos in Kin, which claims to have invented the dish. (Even Anthony Bourdain, who featured the island on Parts Unknown in 2015, became a fan, characterizing it as an “unholy, greasy, starchy, likely in reality unhealthy pleasure, a booze-mop-turned-traditional.”)
The best real option after a plate of taco rice is to fall apart into mattress. Stay on the west side at Guesthouse Tama, which is without difficulty placed subsequent to Nagahama Seika, a factory that makes traditional chinsuko (Okinawan salt cookies).

Day 2
To start the day, I’m a fan of breakfast to-cross from Bakery Otonariya, which has pleasant group of workers and an exquisite choice of French and Japanese baked goods, like a walnut and chocolate loaf with Okinawan orange, and flaky pastries with blueberries and custard. Take a picnic to close by Maeda Flats, one of the pleasant beaches for exploring tidepools whilst the water is low.

Dust off the sand (and crumbs) and head to Cape Manzamo, which accommodates a grassy undeniable overlooking the East China Sea and is known for its offshore rock formations—together with one that resembles an elephant snout. Continue heading north, and flip off on the Motobu Peninsula, where the circulate is to wind around the island on street 449 and head uphill when you see signs for Kajinho, or Pizza within the Sky. The coins-simplest pizza restaurant has come to be increasingly popular in current years, so that you can count on a wait, however we promise it is going to be well worth it: the pizza crust is made with nearby spring water and topped with corn, and is served in a conventional Okinawan residence overlooking the encircling sea and nation-state.
Peeling yourself faraway from pizza is hard, but whats up, whale sharks look forward to: Continue the force around Motobu till you hit Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which highlights the area’s wealthy marine life and became as soon as the most important aquarium within the world (it become handed in 2005 through the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta). The aquarium is thought for its work with whale sharks, and it’s tough no longer to be humbled standing in front of the 26-foot-tall, 74-foot-huge Kuroshio Sea Tank, in which numerous 28-foot mild giants go with the flow by.
Five miles east of the aquarium, amid lush forests, stands the UNESCO-listed Nakijin Castle, however in case you’re short on time (or simply hungry again), head directly for dinner. At Usi no Ibukuro, pork is what’s at the menu. Similar to Kobe (however a lot much less famous and rarer), Okinawan beef has plenty of marbling; pattern top class cuts as well as portions of the heart, tongue, 2nd belly, and small intestine, all grilled yakiniku-style right in front of you. (Orion beer on draft helps matters cross down even smoother.)
Small, smooth Tinto Tinto lodge has Japanese- and Western-fashion rooms overlooking the water; relying to your booking, breakfast can be covered.

A Beach-Hopping, Soba-Fueled Road Trip Through Okinawa, Japan

Long a vacation hotspot for Japanese vacationers searching out a little sand and surf, subtropical Okinawa is subsequently getting its turn inside the highlight, way to increasingly flights from the mainland. It feels fairly one of a kind than the city vibes of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka: In large element, that is because Okinawa existed for hundreds of years as part of its own kingdom, giving the island its own wonderful culture, dialect, and cuisine. (It didn’t emerge as part of Japan till 1879.)
Another purpose it feels different is because it’s greater harking back to an area like Hawaii than the aforementioned tech-forward metropolises: as a part of Japan’s southernmost prefecture (also referred to as Okinawa), Okinawa island has vibrant coral reefs, lush rainforests, seashores galore, and common annual temperatures that rarely dip underneath fifty eight levels Fahrenheit. Its citizens—way to some aggregate of weight loss program, solar, and life-style—live the longest in the international.
Since World War II, Okinawa has additionally had a sturdy U.S. Navy presence, which remains controversial. As the daughter of instructors who taught on base, I grew up on Okinawa, and feature spent endless hours using the island, north to south, east to west, and all round. But considered one of my favorite drives is on the island’s part of Route fifty eight, which runs from the capital of Naha to the northernmost point of Okinawa right. I took my husband to Okinawa for the primary time remaining 12 months, and we spent some days winding alongside the coast, preventing at waterfalls, and seeing centuries-vintage ruins. Here’s how we did it.
The journey: Three days, 70 miles on Route 58 (plus a few detours)
Japan’s National Route 58 clearly spans numerous disconnected island chains, from Kagoshima in the Kagoshima Prefecture to Naha inside the Okinawa Prefecture. This street journey makes a speciality of the motorway’s “fourth” section, in Okinawa. To get to Naha, your starting point, take a three-hour flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
When to go
There’s sunshine and conceivable heat if you go to in spring (early March to early May) or autumn (October and November). The prefecture gets rainier in May and June, and typhoons are frequent in July and August.

What to pressure
The smaller the car, the higher, as a number of Okinawa’s roads off of the highway are slender with a bevy of blind spots. Pick up a car from Times Car Rental in Naha, which has a free trip from the airport.

Day 1
Okinawa has a cuisine all its own, and there’s no better place to attempt it than at Makishi Public Market off of Kokusai Dori, Naha’s primary artery. Browse nearby specialties—including goya (sour melon), shikuwasa (a citrus fruit), and purple candy potatoes—and for breakfast, pick out some seafood and feature it cooked available on the market’s 2d ground for around $5. If caffeine instead of tempura is greater your morning pace, my Naha go-to is The Coffee Stand, that’s housed in an antique shipping box nearby and serves some of the island’s best coffee and pour-overs.

Next up is Shuri Castle, which was the previous palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom throughout the 14th century and nearly completely destroyed at some point of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. It’s for the reason that been reconstructed based totally on pics and ancient facts, and reflects the island’s varied affects: the fortress changed into constructed the use of Ryukyuan limestone, and has crimson lacquer and architectural elements paying homage to China’s Forbidden City. Once accomplished wandering the grounds, do as we did and head 10 mins north up winding hills for lunch at Shimujo, which serves steaming bowls of Okinawan soba with gradual-cooked pork in an old home exact National Tangible Cultural Property through the authorities. (Get there by using eleven:30 a.M., lest they promote out, which has been my enjoy a ways too oftentimes.)
Okinawa is known for its unglazed Tsuboya pottery, made the usage of soil in a timber-fired kiln. One of my preferred locations to peer it being made is Yachimun no Sato, or Yomitan Pottery Village, home to extra than forty artisans. There’s an expansive parking zone at the beginning of the complex, and shops and studios are related by way of a route quality explored walking. Potters display their wares on tables in front of their homes, however every body can wander back to their studios and spot them in action. Items, such as bowls and curly-maned shisa, which resemble a pass between a dog and a lion and are seen definitely everywhere on Okinawa, begin at $five and run into the masses.
For dinner, it’s really worth forgoing fifty eight and heading east for taco rice, a famous Okinawan dish that is quite a good deal what it seems like: taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes over a mattress of rice. My pick for dinner is King Tacos in Kin, which claims to have invented the dish. (Even Anthony Bourdain, who featured the island on Parts Unknown in 2015, became a fan, characterizing it as an “unholy, greasy, starchy, likely in reality unhealthy pleasure, a booze-mop-turned-traditional.”)
The best real option after a plate of taco rice is to fall apart into mattress. Stay on the west side at Guesthouse Tama, which is without difficulty placed subsequent to Nagahama Seika, a factory that makes traditional chinsuko (Okinawan salt cookies).

Day 2
To start the day, I’m a fan of breakfast to-cross from Bakery Otonariya, which has pleasant group of workers and an exquisite choice of French and Japanese baked goods, like a walnut and chocolate loaf with Okinawan orange, and flaky pastries with blueberries and custard. Take a picnic to close by Maeda Flats, one of the pleasant beaches for exploring tidepools whilst the water is low.

Dust off the sand (and crumbs) and head to Cape Manzamo, which accommodates a grassy undeniable overlooking the East China Sea and is known for its offshore rock formations—together with one that resembles an elephant snout. Continue heading north, and flip off on the Motobu Peninsula, where the circulate is to wind around the island on street 449 and head uphill when you see signs for Kajinho, or Pizza within the Sky. The coins-simplest pizza restaurant has come to be increasingly popular in current years, so that you can count on a wait, however we promise it is going to be well worth it: the pizza crust is made with nearby spring water and topped with corn, and is served in a conventional Okinawan residence overlooking the encircling sea and nation-state.
Peeling yourself faraway from pizza is hard, but whats up, whale sharks look forward to: Continue the force around Motobu till you hit Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which highlights the area’s wealthy marine life and became as soon as the most important aquarium within the world (it become handed in 2005 through the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta). The aquarium is thought for its work with whale sharks, and it’s tough no longer to be humbled standing in front of the 26-foot-tall, 74-foot-huge Kuroshio Sea Tank, in which numerous 28-foot mild giants go with the flow by.
Five miles east of the aquarium, amid lush forests, stands the UNESCO-listed Nakijin Castle, however in case you’re short on time (or simply hungry again), head directly for dinner. At Usi no Ibukuro, pork is what’s at the menu. Similar to Kobe (however a lot much less famous and rarer), Okinawan beef has plenty of marbling; pattern top class cuts as well as portions of the heart, tongue, 2nd belly, and small intestine, all grilled yakiniku-style right in front of you. (Orion beer on draft helps matters cross down even smoother.)
Small, smooth Tinto Tinto lodge has Japanese- and Western-fashion rooms overlooking the water; relying to your booking, breakfast can be covered.

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