Deepest darkest Okinawa
Different cultures have different soundbites, like “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” but Godliness in Japan means “Fight! Fight! Like a samurai, do not give up at any expense”, even if it means never resting yer weary sword. Put it down once in a while, me ole bean, it’s OK.
(Japan is very clean too, though, it has to be said.)
I’d already been to Okinawa-honto (the main island, home of Naha), and expected it to be on a par.
The main town, Ishigaki-shi, is charming enough in itself with it’s little wharf and old men playing traditional Okinawan instruments in the moonlight next to lobster pots. But once you get outside, it’s a relative metropolis and it makes you realise that, comparitively at least, you’ll never need the tack of Kokusai-dori in Naha ever again.
We hired a car and did a loop-de-loop of the island, giddy with excitement. It’s like a treasure trove…isolated lighthouses; deserted sandy coves; hermit crabs a-go-go; go-go dancers (just kidding) and sunsets to die for.
But the real jewel in the crown is Iriomote-jima. I’d never even heard of if before, and was put off by the odd reading of the Chinese characters in the name. (Reads as 西表島 for all you kanji buffs…who came up with that one?) Lying in the very southern-most part of Japan and only accessible to by boat, it is practically in Taiwan.
Fell in love with the place. You’d never believe you were in Japan in a month of unpaid overtime Sundays.
* Unmanned fruit stalls, where payment is based on trust.
* Peach-flavoured pineapples. (I jest you not!)
* Coral reeves with iridescent fish…like swimming in a gigantic tropical fish tank
* Beaches with star-shaped grains of sand. (oh Mr. Jester, this is getting serious)
* Seaweed soup that looks like saturated green cotton wool.
* JUNGLE!!! Yes, cruise through the mangrove full of frightening-looking plants and frightening-sounding squawking animals.
Bloody ace! If Japan is like Britain, then the Channel Islands need to have a climate change to live up to this. An absolute must for anyone who loves Japan.