A Breath of Fresh Air

Trip Start Dec 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Japan  ,
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Okinawa, a breath of fresh air in Japan. Most of Japan by comparison is grey, concrete and overall colourless except at night when the neon flashes. Most Japanese work excruciating hours in dark black, blue or grey suits. Now I will admit it has been winter and there are promises of greener grasses and cherry blossoms.
Okinawa on the other hand is warm, tropical and has the most stunning beaches protected by beautiful coral and clear blue emerald seas. I can't say I've seen as many stunning beaches packed into such a small area.
From the terrace of our Asian style hostel I stand outside in a towel brushing my teeth after a hot shower and my first real strong feelings of being in Japan. It sounds weird, but the large cylindrical shower with its soft blue lights, radio blaring J-Pop and all its different massaging shower features flicked a switch. As i stand out looking over the street. The air is warm the neon flashes and people fill the streets. AH Japan!.
This area of Japan is traditionally known as the Ryuku nation. Once separate from Japan and influenced more by the Chinese. The birth place of Karate and much more relaxed than main land Japan.
We visited a couple of the smaller islands by ferry. The ferries don't have seats but tatami mat rooms to lie down and relax. One island provided whale watching where a young humpback jump and spun out of the water playing its heart out. A bike/walk ride around the deserted island to the most amazing vistas. The people are all super nice and the Awamori did flow. Awamori, known as the communication drink similar to sake but derived from Thailand.
The people we met are very proud of there culture, awamori and island life. It was refreshing to meet the Japanese hippy and old minshuku (inn) owners and there families. Even the local town drunk that kept popping up and wanting to talk and dance with us.
As we escaped from Naha city to the north part of Okinawa in our rental car. You could see the western world melt away and travel back to a more traditional time of farming and vast rainforest areas. At the bottom of a deep valley surrounded by so much greenery we found comfort in a fabulous cup of coffee at a tiny café and home on this rainy day.
The young University students we met on there holidays told us that they come here because for them it's just like visiting a foreign land.
The older owner of the Minshuku gave us a personal tour of his private beach and island. He convinced us to stay another night and if the sea calmed down he would give us a tour in his glass bottomed boat. He insisted we sit and eat and drink with him and the others staying at his huge inn and share in a toast to his island with awamori. After a few toasts and a lot of awamori he explained that he has lived a very full life and experienced much. He feels very wealthy in all respects. So now his only wish is to share this wealth, his home, and his island with others.
Okinawa, a breath of fresh air!
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