One of my favorite things to do here is karaoke. Here in Okinawa City you have your choice of the karaoke box or the karaoke bar. I prefer the bar because it affords a greater opportunity to mingle and get to know the people. My favorite karaoke spot is a place called the Prince. It is run by the sweetest 70+ year old Okinawan woman. It is open...more
Dining at a teppanyaki restaurant is like going to a comedy club and being served by the performer. For those of you who have never eaten at a teppanyaki restaurant, this style of cuisine consists of a Western-style dish of cubed steak or seafood, bread or rice, some vegetables and a cup of coffee or tea. What makes these restaurants memorable is...more
If you are looking for authentic northern Italian food on Okinawa, look no further than the Rose Garden resturaunt. It has some of the best home style Italian food you will ever come across. Everything is made fresh right in the kitchen to include all the breads, sauces and the sausage. They also make homemade jams and jellies that are available...more
There is a great resturaunt that is literally right on the beach in Mihama and it is a great place to go and get a Hawaiian style lunch buffet and great view of the beach and ocean via its outside terrace. I finally ate there and experienced some of the best buffet food I have had on the island so far. For only 1000 yen I had all-you-can-eat curry...more
Gate 2 street (actually the terminal portion of highway 20) is an entertainment area that runs from highway 330 to Gate 2 (hence the name) of Kadena Air Base. It is filled with clothing stores, resturaunts, and bars for it's entire length (about 500 meters). The bars run from a nice quiet sedate karaoke bar named the Prince (which I frequent) to the hard rocking Fujiyama's which has live bands nearly every weekend to the Dragon, which is popular for Hip-Hop. basically anything anything.
If you follow the road that T-bone's at the Prince north to the last traffic light (don't worry, it's a short walk), you will come to B.C. street. The official name is Chuo Park Avenue. During the day it is a bustling shopping area perfect for bringing the family. Many great little shops and restaurants here as well from tailors to a guy that actually makes custom perfumes. There is a such place on this street that you have to try called Soo-soon. Why is it called B.C. street?
Well, back in the day, it was known for some very seedy nightlife with strip bars and snake shows and the like and the B.C. stood for "bring cash". Now there are very few places like this left on this street and they are only open at night. Plus they are toned down considerably since the hey day. Now it is mostly "juicy girl" bars and a couple of coffee shops, some bistros and one really great authentic Irish Pub called Patty Mac's. The owner, Martin, is an Irish national and has been on the island for more than 9 years. For the best Guiness draft on Okinawa, go see him. By the way, he has some of the best chili and fish and chips to found anywhere as well.
Dress Code: Dress comfortably as you like. Most Okinawan men wear slacks like Dockers along with a print shirt similar to a Hawaiian shirt most of the time. For women, shorts and sandals will do just fine. Most of the restaurants in this area are not the "take your shoes off kind" so don't worry.
Here is some excellent info about using the public bus here which is quite easy to use once you try it once or twice. At each bus stop, there is a sign with a map of bus routes on the front and a schedule on the back. The maps are written in Japanese, but if you know the route number and destination, you can find the final destination on the map by...more
The absolute best way to get around Okinawa is to have a car. There is the bus which goes to the major places, but to get off the beaten path a car is needed; in some cases, a 4WD vehicle is even better to get to some of the secluded beaches and dive spots.Back to the driving, if you have ever driven in any drive-on-the left country, you will be...more
There is an area just south of the American Village on the west coast of Okinawa that is known as the Hamby Town night market. It is unique in that except for the Chibana flea market (which I will describe later) it is one of the few places on Okinawa where one can haggle over the prices of goods. Most of the items here are used items that people are selling themselves or are resellers of overstock and discontinued items from local merchants. Some really good bargains can be had here. Plus it is kind of a carnival-like atmosphere with sidewalk food stands and all kinds of music and people milling about.
What to buy: You can find almost anything here. I even saw an old 8-track tape player here once. Clothes are the real bargain though. Example are a man's polo shirt costing about a dollar and a decent woman's summer sun dress for about $10. There are various used electronic items and Japanese kitchen appliances as well. The resellers seem to specialize in one thing or another and have actual permanent structure to sell from. The personal sellers rent stalls by the day (just like a US flea market) on a first come basis. Once all the stalls are rented, too bad.
What to pay: Whatever you are will to pay.
The weather on Okinawa is subtropical and just gorgeous most of the time. There is a rainy season that lasts about 2 or 3 weeks and it doesn't get cold.
However, Okinawa has it's share of typhoons. These can be really powerful storms and can/do kill people here each year. Do not get the idea that there is death and destruction like in the states from hurricanes though.
Most of the people who die here in a typhoon, die doing something stupid like trying to surf of the 40 to 50 foot waves that can occur or get washed into the sea trying to take pictures of the surf as it comes in.
Due to the type of building construction on the island, the storms generally do not cause that much structural damage, even though we have experience 150+ knot winds. We can sometimes have problems with the amount rain from a typhoon, but it too is usually minor.
In fact, due to the number of storms per year, the islanders pretty much treat them as Americans treat thunderstorms. You can go out when the wind is whipping up to about 70 knots and McDonald's will still be open. Don't be fooled by the seemingly nonchalauntness though. Inwardly, they take the storms very seriously and are always prepared for water shortages and power outages.
The weather services (Japanese and American) are very good at predicting the path and intensity of storms approaching the island. As a traveler, you should be aware that the season runs from May through November. Check the Joint Typhoon Warning Center's link on storms in the Pacific before traveling during these months:
During typhoon Songda recently, travelers neglected to do this and were stranded inside the Naha airport for 2 days. Since the airport sits right on the water, it was too dangerous for them to leave the airport and attempt to find a hotel.
I bet you didn't know you could ice skate on Okinawa. Well, you can down in Haebura near Naha. The Souhtern Hill Amusement Center near the Naha exit of the expressway has just about everything one would want to do either for a family outing or a more romantic day or evening out. This huge 3-story facility has a 36-lane bowling alley, 16 batting cages (14 fast pitch), billards, 13 karaoke booths and a 60-table izakaya resturaunt. The center piece however is the 90 by 180 foot ice rink that is open year round. Price is 1600 yen for adults and less for the younger folk. It is 200 yen to stand and watch. Bring gloves or buy some there becaue they will not let you on the ice without them. They also sell all kinds of ice skating and hockey gear. Bring only yen because that's all they take. To get there get on the expressway to the Naha exit, turn left and proceed about 500 yards. When you see the "Jomo" gas station, make another left. Turn left again at the intersection, and Sports World will be on your right.