Tag Archives: Naha

Trip to Fukuoka

Today was time to say “Good Bye” to Okinawa (cue in Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli) and “Hello Again” (cue in Howard Carpendale) to mainland Japan, because we flew back to Fukuoka (well, not really “back”, since we only transited through there on the trip from Seoul to Naha).

Because it was only a short (95 minutes) plane ride, it wasn’t as exhausting as the trip to Okinawa. Only annoying thing was that they wanted to do a full extra check on my carry-on baggage, so I had to unpack everything (notebook, camera equipment, hard disk, all the regular stuff, etc.), let them x-ray it again, just to pack everything back up after they found… nothing. Steffen, on the other hand, had the easiest check in his life – didn’t even bother to unpack his netbook. I’d say he looks way more suspicious than me, but of course they were afraid they can’t see through my clever poker face.

Anyway, we arrived in Fukuoka (where they checked – for the first time – if we were actually leaving the baggage claim with the right baggage), got our JR Rail Passes and took the next train to our new temporary home – or homes, since we both got our own rooms! Okay everyone, party is on in 505. Bring snacks and drinks, and we will party Gangnam Style (even outside of Korea) all night long!


After getting up in the morning we had a short debate on whether we should go to Shuri Castle as originally planned or just slack off. Well, the Okinawan attitude won and we agreed to not do sh*t for a change. (Not looking forward to the lengthy bus trip supported our decision.)

So, we can quickly sum it up with: Doing nothing, going to the curry buffet (gotta try the odd day’s menu – since we only tried the even day’s so far) and continue doing nothing (okay, not entirely true, did work through the photos we shot and even added pictures to one (!) post).

’nuff said and done.

Roundtrip to the Ocean Expo Park

As mentioned yesterday, out hotel organized a trip to the Ocean Expo Park for us with another hotel. When we got down from our apartment, the promised shuttle service was already waiting for us and took us to the hotel where we were supposed to wait for the tour guide. Tour guide… aren’t those the guys who walk around with flags in Japan? And yes, there she was, our tour guide… with a flag. Please insert your own Blue Team vs. Red Team or other Capture-the-Flag jokes here.

Anyway, it seems that this tour bus picks up guest from all other hotels along the road and thus wasn’t really faster than the regular bus line. But we got information about the POIs along the road – as far as it was translated in the audio guide… which wasn’t much, since that mainly broadcasted commercials about tourist sites like (brace yourselves) The Pineapple Park – a theme park about pineapples (and other tropical fruits). We were very sad we didn’t book this for our day trip.

After two hours we arrived at our first destination, the Ryugujo Butterfly Garden, where they served us some Okinawa soba (we’re used to higher standards after yesterdays lunch) and allowed us to roam free for a while to visit said butterflies. They really got a lot there, as well as flowers and hats to pick up where the butterflies like to rest (probably scented).

After that we hopped onto the bus for a short trip to our main destination: The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Actually it’s much like any other big aquarium you can find everywhere on the planet, with all the fishes behind glasses and stuff. But what makes the Churaumi Aquarium special is the huge Kuroshio Sea tank where lots of fish, rays (even mantas) and three whale sharks roam around freely. We will post pictures of everything in the Aquarium, but for now, please watch this video as a compensation (best viewed with your own favorite music instead of the video sounds).

After that spectacular view, we also saw a few minutes of the dolphin show and then had to get back to the bus.

But that wasn’t our last stop. You remember that comment above regarding the Pineapple (Theme) Park? Well, lucky us we got forced had a chance to visit that place as well. We were shown a bit about the pineapple history of Okinawa (I’m sure they told us about that, too, but neither of us understood enough or paid enough attention to be sure) – which included Christopher Columbus (because he “discovered” the pineapple, but was still a strange moment to see him mentioned there). And we were able to taste some cakes and snacks made with pineapples (good part), but didn’t have a chance to drive around the fields in a pineapple car or sing and dance the pineapple song (even better sad part).

One last stop was the Glass House in the Forest – which was obviously located inside the town – to watch a craftsman form a horse out of hot glass in under two minutes, which would be sold for several thousand yen in the shop. Speaking of the shop, of course we invested in souvenirs, but unfortunately they didn’t have t-shirts. And since someone didn’t want a pineapple shirt, that left him with only one shirt from the aquarium.

The trip ended with the ride back to the hotels (along which a young Chinese lady enlisted us to entertain her), a song by our tour guide (not bad actually) and a missed sundown (but tomorrow we will shoot it!).

Down to Downtown Naha

Our original destination for today was the Churaumi Aquarium, but we changed plans. It seems that using our usual approach (planning and doing everything by ourselves) would take about three hours just to get there and cost us a lot of money. But the friendly receptionist of our hotel had a better suggestion and swiftly organized for us to join a guided tour with another hotel and even promised us a shuttle service. I guess sometimes it’s really the better option to go the full tourist way.

Anyway, that left us without a plan and so we decided to take the bus to downtown Naha – which was surprisingly faster than our trip to the hotel, since there was less traffic. But we didn’t go the full length by bus anyway, since we figured we might as well explore the area and grab a few caches on the way. We were mostly interested in one that claimed to be very hard to grab, due to it’s crowded place. Well, it appears that is was quite the contrary, because there weren’t many lunatics that would walk around the city on a hot and sunny midday. Take that, cache owner!  And speaking of sunny middays, we already had our share of those yesterday – meaning: today we preferred shadowier areas to ease our slight sunburns, but hopefully the sunscreen offered enough protection for the times we couldn’t. Later, when we were in the real downtown of Naha, that didn’t really matter anymore.

The rest is about the usual. Walking around, getting some local food around early afternoon (tasty soba resp. tofu in little shop away from the main street where they only had a Japanese menu), looking for some caches (again only semi-successful), browsing shops (no t-shirts, yet), etc.  We even got the most important item of every town: A MAP! As soon as we acquired that legendary item, we found our way immediately. But somewhere on this island has to be an even more powerful map – one that contains and explains the full bus map, including timetables. Boy, that would be something – no more guessing which bus takes us where. I wonder if we need a big raid group and slay a sea dragon for this…

Naha Caching

On our last day in Seoul, we went geocaching – let’s continue right there, but here in Naha. We took a walk around the area to see where we landed in Okinawa. Let’s say we’re a bit outside of downtown Naha. But to make this walk a bit more productive, we went geocaching, which often helps to get to know an area. Unfortunately it wasn’t very effective, since in the end, we could only grab two. But maybe that was a good thing as well, since all the others we searched were too small to contain a pen… and we forgot ours, so we would get depressed for not being able to log them.

Anyway, our search led us even to the less frequented streets of Chatan (the part of the city we’re staying in). Like everything in Naha we encountered so far, most of them were a bit rundown. Being on an island really has to make things harder, which is probably one reason why the buses here are so old. (Being used to (and just coming from one) very modern Asian metropolises – not counting Beijing – doesn’t improve the impression.) And the American presence and influence is quite noticeable, one indicator being that this is the only place in Asia where we ever noticed a tanning saloon. I mean tanning, which is the opposite of the Asian ideal of beauty – in Okinawa, the hottest and sunniest prefecture of Japan. All of our wut.

Well, back to the geocaching story. For some reason, all but one of them led us to restaurants, although most of them were closed due to our earliness (restaurants rarely open up before early afternoon). But then a multicache required us to get the telephone number of a curry restaurant – and as the readers of our last trip might remember, that was one of Steffen’s preferred forms to assimilate his nutrition. It was a small shop – hardly larger than our hotel room – on the second floor of a small building, but with a narrow balcony that allowed you to eat in front of the ocean scenery. Very nice and the curry buffet was quite tasty as well. Maybe we’ll go there again, if we have enough dead time here in Naha. After we left, the final stage led us back towards our hotel. The cache itself was hidden in a nice spot, but had no pen inside, so we could only photo log it.

On the way back we bought pens, did our daily food and snack shopping and got back to the hotel to check on the laundry. Yes, we got our own washing machine and dryer in our room/apartment (a kitchen, too). While we surely miss the convenience of having a laundry service, this is way cheaper and allows us some extra washing runs. Downside: Everything on the controls is in Japanese and I can only understand a fraction of it.