okinawa beach

Okinawa Travel Reflections

Okinawa Reflections

Vietnam Poems

these poetic reflections of Okinawa were written during my first trip Okinawa in December 2019.  I don’t know why it took me 64 years to get there but we had a great time.

we stayed in Naha City in two different AIRBNB’s near the international street.  We paid less than I had imagined we would have and we found that the prices in Okinawa were a bit higher than in Korea but not as outrageously high as I had imagined or fear it would be.

Okinawa is proud of its unique history as an independent kingdom prior to being taken over by the Japanese in 1878.  that history remains both hidden and overt as the people in Okinawa celebrate their unique culture. 

Okinawa was also of course the last battle fields of world war 11 and there are memorials all over the island to that war.  and then Okinawa was a US territory until 1972 and Okinawa remains the most “Americanized Japanese prefecture”.

We found that the level of English was quite high higher than we had encountered in other trips to Japan. We also found that Korean is widely spoken because up until last year Koreans were the number one foreign tour group in Okinawa.  there were still a lot of Korean tourists about and local Koreans living in Okinawa.  Every street sign is in Chinese/Japanese/English and Korean so it was pretty easy to get around.

the tourism office was conveniently located in the Naha Bus terminal and the people were very friendly, spoke English and were very helpful. the maps and brochures were useful as well.  However, there are very few English language materials available except for some things on line.  We could not find the Lonely Planet guide for sale anywhere.

On the third day we were there, the Okinawa travel office staff went out of their way to help us when my wife, Angela, left her phone on the bus coming back from the beach resort.  They called the airport bus company and tracked down our phone.  we went to the airport on the new monorail which is pretty convenient – only four stops to get to the airport from the central bus terminal.

monorail tourism sites

the food was great.  Most mornings we ate fruit and left over sashimi from the market purchased the night before and coffee.  Okinawans seem to like their coffee as much as they like tea.  And I was surprised to find out how difficult it was to buy loose tea leaves.  

My favorite coffee was the oddly named “Boss” coffee which seems to be everywhere.  the can has a picture of a Okinawan“boss” smoking a pipe.  It is the most popular coffee in Japan I believe. Part of the Suntory food and beverage empire.  Suntory also of course makes Japanese Whiskey which we did not sample on this trip.

we did drink Okinawan beer and sake almost every night in a Yakitori restaurant.  If you have not been to Japan yet, you must try going to a Yakitori when you get to Japan.  Yakitori’s are the working man’s beer and sake neighborhood bar, and they are everywhere.  They have red paper lanterns outside their door denoting the establishment as a Yakitori. 

yakitori chicken
yakitori chicken

On a prior trip to Japan,  I had learned that the Yakitori’s date back to the Meiji period and were founded as pubs for the working class. and they remain the cheapest place to eat and drink in Japan.  They serve fried chicken, sushi and other pub food.  we had fun drinking in them and meeting locals.

 

 

 

 

 

japanese food guide yakitori

the best meal we had was at the Emerald Bay Resort on the west coast.  The west coast remained me of Hawaii or Barbados – the road winds along the sea coast and is lined with resorts and restaurants as befit being located in Japan’s Hawaii.

they had a great Okinawa style buffet lunch for 60$ per person, all you can eat.  mostly Okinawa style food but they had great dim sum as well. and great ice cream to finish the meal off.

 

 

 

 

the Emerald Bay Resort is next door to the Okinawa Aquarium which is one of the best aquariums in the world in my opinion.  Reminded me of the Monterey Bay aquarium.   We saw a good dolphin show, lots of sea turtles, manatees, and of course the aquarium which features a re-created coral reef.  and lots of sharks swimming around.

okinawa aquarium 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we also had a great steak lunch one lunch time featuring local Okinawa beef. 

we saw the Shurti castle which was badly damaged in a huge fire a year ago.   But the grounds were open and impressive.  this was the castle of the Okinawa Ryukyu kingdom for almost five hundred years.

during world war 11 the Okinawa military command hid out underneath the castle so the US bombed the castle.

  The castle was rebuilt and restored and re-opened in 2000 or so.  Very impressive still.

the US military bases are all located some distance from Naha city where there is an American village “theme park”  next to the bases.  The military people mostly stay near their bases – we did not see many Americans wandering about Naha city. 

shurti castle

all in all one of my more memorable trips and I want to go back because there was so much left unseen.

Here are my poetic reflections

Okinawa War thoughts

these dark moods

follow me 

as I tour Okinawa

where the last battles 

of world war 11 were fought

thousands died

in the first 

and last outpost

of the American East Asian Empire

Okinawa Beckons me

Okinawa Japan

kept calling to me

in a dream

notifying me 

always in the background

where my memories

always waiting for me 

Beckons me

everywhere I go

cosmic reflections

of past lives

never seen before

seems lost in time 

maybe just the spirits of the dead 

everywhere I see ghosts 

Okinawa Street Scene

Walking the streets

of Fabled Naha Okinawa

a life time dream

someday I would visit

I am surrounded 

by ghosts of the past

 

and Japanese beauties

all around me

tempting me

with their sweet smiles

 

as they smile at me

and I smile at them

No wonder 

so many Soldiers

brought back 

Japanese wives

Japanese Coffee Barista

watching the Japanese

 coffee barista

preparing my snarling cup 

of hot boss coffee 

how I wanted to express

what was on my mind

right then

to the Japanese 

coffee barista

Ghosts of Okinawa 

Touring the battlefields 

of Okinawa

where so many young men

gave up their life

so many years ago

I see the ghosts 

all around me

feel their spirits

floating through the air

Kilroy was here

there and everywhere

whoever that was 

and John Dean wannabes

and Elvis wannabes

and so many other wannabes

and I see the ghosts of the fallen heroes

all around me

Signs

everywhere in Asia

you see strange variations

of English

Japlish, Konglish, Singlish

the street signs in Okinawa

are all in Chinese, Japanese, English and Koreans

the bus and train announcements as well

Hard to get lost 

even when you want to

 

but the random encounters

with English words

puts a smile on my face

as I drink my “boss coffee”

wondering who is the “boss” 

and why is smoking a pipe?

 

and many years ago

I saw on a menu

at the old Kimpo Airport

Baked Rick

 

and in Korean grocery stores

one can find 

corn flights

 

I look forward 

to many more years

of linguistic confusion

as I travel about Asia

Visit to Okinawa Aquarium

Whenever I visit an aquarium, 

zoo or wild life park

I am reminded of a prison

 

the prison is filled with animals

who amuse us for their food

 

I am sure that the animals

hate us humans

who are watching them

do their animal thing

 

but looking into their eyes

the eyes of the sea turtles

swimming back and forth

in their prison cell 

in the Okinawa aquarium

 

filled with hatred 

for the humans

who had imprison them

and hunt their kind 

 

and don’t get me started

on the dolphins and killer whales

who preform acrobatic feats

for their daily meals

 

and the sharks

the king of the ocean killers

they too

if they could

they surely would 

 

escape

their prison cell

screaming 

Death to all humans 

 

as they flee

back into the ocean’s depths

 

Okinawa West Coast Road

Riding down the west coast road

of Okinawa

echoes of other beach roads

 

fill my head with memories

I am reminded of Hawaii

and driving along the Oregon coast

east coast beach towns as well

 

and Barbados

and the Caribbean islands

 

all the roads 

are lined with tourist resorts

beach views and restaurants

 

all very similar

yet different

 

and as the beach towns

fade away

behind us on the bus

 

my memories

of all the other beach towns

I have visited

 

fade away

into my memory hole

 

Okinawa Haiku

in Okinawa

the warm trade winds blow away

the coming winter 

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