Naha, Okinawa, Asia

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011 in Okinawa, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Naha, Okinawa, Asia

We’ve only been here a few hours, but we reckon if Vietnam and Hawaii had a baby, it’d look a lot like Okinawa. The latter because of the American hangover that came with a quarter century of occupation after the war – there are garish Hawaiian shirts everywhere, middling Tex Mex restaurants and Mickey Mouse’s dead eyes watching you pass the usual suspects. The gaijins per-square-metre ratio seems to have increased dramatically, too.

If that all sounds a bit off-putting then be consoled by the fact that Okinawa simultaneously feels like the most Asian part of Japan we’ve found so far. By that I mean the rest of the country is more like a European nation than some of the others on its continent; specifically, with the queueing and the emissions laws, the fixed prices and the expensive petrol, we reckon Japan has more in common with Britain than, say, Cambodia.

But in Okinawa, things are different: there are women pressing sugar cane to make tropical drinks; restaurants employ touts to try and grab tourists in off the streets; mangos are everywhere; there are foam boobs to grab (though these ones aren’t actually attached to anyone); the shops spill their guts for all to see, selling things like toad-skin purses, and pickled pythons in jars, and further back, racks and racks of witty and/or tacky t-shirts. There is shouting and passion and the smell of half a dozen foods wafting around the street. Yes, downtown Naha feels like a more-legal street in Ho Chi Minh City. And no matter which aspect of its character is on display – the American or the Asian – there’s plenty of colour.





  1. Jeremy
    December 1, 2011

    One note – the “pickled pythons” are actually habu, a poisonous Okinawan snake, and the jar is filled with sake, making the final product the famous Okinawan habu sake. Hope you got to try some while you were there!

  2. Cannon Beach Oregon Hotels
    December 2, 2011

    Okinawa has came across even strongly after the last war as we can see from the many progress achieved. i would love to travel there. am writing from cannon beach Oregon hotels.

  3. Okigaijin Okinawa
    December 15, 2011

    I don’t think the Okinawan people would appreciate the remarks posted about their origin being that of Viet Nam and Hawaii!!! They’ve a culture that was influenced by the Chinese, Korean and their own native customs and had their own kingdom for over 600+ years. What may appear to be many Hawaiian shirts everywhere…For the most part are in fact some great shirts created by some well know Okinawan business operations and some created by high school students that help promote the wonderful island of Okinawa.

    Regarding the “hangover” that’s been going on for a quarter of a century…Way off on both the amount of time…It was (65) years ago that the “High Commissioner, (Army) was put in charge of the people of Okinawa…While it might to some appear that it’s been a “hangover” status since that day…The truth is, the relationship of the American military and the people of Okinawa is on a very good foundation. Yes, there are those in both the military and civilian sector (American) that gives us a black eye…and those issues are being dealt with.

    The photo’s are super…However, there is more beauty around the island and off island with many wonderful historical sites…Hope that you can do another visit to take them in…