Shuri Castle, Churaumi Aquarium, Manzamo, etc.
Trip Start Jan 25, 2009
5Trip End Jan 27, 2009
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On day 1, just after we arrived in Okinawa at half past one, we headed for DFS Okinawa in Omoromachi where we were supposed to rent a car. The monorail from the airport to DFS was comfortable, although we were starving because we had planed to eat a flight meal, but it was not served
The first destination was Shuri Castle located in Naha, which is the most touristy castle of Japan. It was rebuilt in 1992 and the original foundation parts are still under the ground. So the castle building itself is new and beautiful. Compared to the other castles of Okinawa, it is easy to imagine what original Okinawan castle was, because the other castles were all ruins without the main buildings. After we parked in the parking lot near Shurei-mon Gate, we walked up to the main buildings. In front of the gate, there was a stage which had Okinawan traditional dance shows. The shows were interesting, but we didn't have enough time to watch all the shows. Paying 800 yen per person for a admission ticket, we passed the gate to the main buildings. Immediately, we found the most picturesque building of Okinawa there, which had completely different appearance from those of Japanese castles. It was mainly colored in red and closer to the palaces I had seen in Korea and China
Shuri Castle Videos
The site also has an image archive.
It was almost six in the evening, when we left the castle. So it was time to go to our hotel, Tokyo Daiichi Hotel, in Okinawa City which was one hour far from the castle. The hotel was located on a hill, so the night view of the city from the 13th floor where we stayed was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was not convenient for shopping in Okinawa, even in a big city like Okinawa City
On the second day in Okinawa, first of all, we visited Nakagusuku Castle. We paid 300 yen admission fee and, just after that, we found cherry blossoms, Kanhi Zakura, blowing in late January in Okinawa, much earlier than the other parts of Japan. To tell the truth, we didn't expect it in Nakagusuku Castle, but in Nakijin Castle. That's why we decided to skip Nakijin Castle later. The castle was a beautiful ruin but much less popular than Shuri Castle, although it is also a UNESCO's World Heritage Site. However I guess some people like it better, because it inspires our imagination. Especially, the farthermost area of the castle park seemed like a real ruin, not restored part, and I liked it. The view of the Pacific Sea from the top of the castle wall was also wonderful.
The second destination on day 2 was Southeast Botanic Garden
Ryukyu Mura was more attractive with the world's thickest rope, buffalo working to mill sugar canes, Okinawan traditional sweets, and Eisa dance. In the restaurant, we tasted Okinawan buckwheat noodle soup, which had some ingredients of Chinese noodle soup. They also gave us tumblers with some drink coupons in exchange for ANA coupons. We had a good time there even for one and a half hour visit.
Manzamo is said to be the best natural beauty of Okinawa. It is a cliff shaped like a elephant trunk and a vast field on it. However, we didn't have to spend much time in seeing everything in there, so that we left twenty minutes later than we arrived. In my opinion, it was not a must-see, but still the scenic site with the coral reefs.
The last but not least, the final destination on day 2 was Churaumi aquarium. Before I went to Okinawa, I thought we didn't need to go there, because we were able to see fish in any aquariums. In addition, aquariums are generally more expensive than other attractions. The aquarium was far from other attractions and that was another reason why I didn't want to go. Anyways, I didn't know why it was so popular among tourists. However, my coworkers told me to go there definitely, even if they had never been there, because of the world's largest tank and whale sharks, the largest living fish species
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium Official Website
This is a very elaborate and informative website. You can get any information you expect.about the aquarium.
Feel the Wind Okinawa video from JNTO
This is a PR video of Okinawa. It doesn't include narration.