Got done in Naha early enough to be able
to go see a few local historic sites, so here you go.
First, for those who like to check maps and see where I'm located -
here's a map sign near the Naha monorail. Route 58 is a main
north-south street, and goes up to Kadena air base
. It's a
busy base - we saw quite a few planes flying in at night, 4-engine
propeller and jet planes.
Something I've only seen on Okinawa, but which must exist in other
places - quick food of the gods, writ large:
For dinner we went to a nearby Italian restaurant popular with the
locals (Bacar), and had some of the local Okinawan beer:
The menus is small, margharita and cheese pizzas, and an assortment of
small plates. At 9:30 pm the menu changes to fresh pasta and
breads. The carbs are good on Okinawa!
Some old school Pepsi in glass bottles and a local tea.
Another meal was an Okinawan noodle bowl with a couple kinds of pork
and a local fried rice bowl. Mmm!
The weather was really nice - 72 degrees F, and palm trees abound.
As you may know, Okinawa was the site of one of the toughest battles
during World War II
, and the Okinawans had a really bad time, first
at the hands of the mainland Japanese, who forced them to dig tunnels
underground for the Navy headquarters and for bunkers for the troops,
and later forced suicides to prevent their capture from the approaching
Allies, with nearly a quarter of the population dying. After the
armistice starvation set in and they had a rough time while the Allies
occupied the island. We went to the site of the underground Navy
HQ tunnels, which were only cleared out of bodies starting around 1953
and which was restored and turend into a museum. It was a fair
presentation of the activities on the island.
This is a photo in the exhibit of the anti-aircraft fire during the
This shows Okinawa's ideal location as the Naval headquarters.
This is the main entrance to the tunnel complex.
One of the staff officer meeting rooms.
The complex sits on a hill that also holds traditional Okinawan graves.
After that, we took a taxi to Shuri-ji
was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom
which ruled Okinawa and some nearby islands from the 15th to the 19th
century, and was a major trading center. This gate is significant
enough that it's featured on the 2000
Because of Shuri's location, they had a lot of trade with China, and so
the buildings, decoration, and a significant part of the culture has
Chinese influences, including the dragon.
The castle was mostly destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa, but has
been rebuilt over the last 50 years. They keep adding onto it and
completing sections, using techniques and materials as close to those
originally used during its construction from the 14th century on.
Even though a reconstruction, it's a Unesco World Heritage site.
The throne room.
A view of the castle wall and entrance.
Later we headed north for dinner, and no, the monkey's not on the
menu. We ate at a restaurant in Chatan
, located in the
Beach Tower hotel, which has barbecue tables, a local version of
Chinese hot pot, and an expansive buffet selection. Along with
all one-price food and drink, they have some amusements for the kids,
and there's a glassed-in pen with some monkeys and tortoises.
This little guy was having fun. I think.
The eats! In the foil are potatoes, garlic and scallions, and
some squid. You also see a ring of bitter gourd, which is a local
delicacy, and garlicked rice wedges, and some pork. On the plate
is pizza which has mustard on it, tempura-ed local peppers, and sushi
on saffron rice. We also had all you can eat steaks and other
foods. It was good food, decently priced, and a good time.
On Tuesday, with the work and eating done, it was time to head back to
Tokyo. JAL foiled my single-bag carry-on scheme which had worked
fine for this whole China/Okinawa section, because the security
screening only permitted small bags not much larger than my laptop bag
to go through the xray system, even though the planes can handle
standard-sized bags such as mine. I suspect it's because the
Okinawa-Tokyo flight is less a flight as a flying bus, shuttling
thousands of people a day back and forth. It may have been a 747
but it was more than 400 people full. And yet again, I tried to
sit upstairs, but that was all economy class seating. One of
As we neaded north, we passed Miyakejima Island
which has Mount Oyama, an active volcano, which last erupted in 2000.
Since then, it's constantly emitted sulfurous gases.
I flew into Tokyo
, also known as Haneda, which is near to
downtown and connects to the city by the Tokyo Monorail, among other
methods. Here's a view on the final approach to 16L. You can see
, and in the foreground is Odaiba
Finally, some folks have inquired what the cell phone I rented looks
like. Here's 'tis. See you soon.