Okinawa 沖縄

Nestled halfway between Kyushu in southern Japan and Taiwan just off the coast of China, Okinawa is a gorgeous chain of Japanese islands famous for its beaches and year-round hot temperatures, and six day holiday at the end of June provided a perfect opportunity to spend a few days down there.

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Having moved house at the beginning of the month, the weeks before and the weeks after the move had been both tiring and stressful, what with packing, organising, unpacking, dealing with all the paperwork and the attendant Japanese bureaucracy, and we were in dire need of a few days R&R.

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Shuri-jo castle

And that’s just what we had!

We visited Shuri-jo, the UNESCO-recognised 14th century Ryukyu castle on a beautifully clear day that was so incredibly hot, we had a to wait in the visitor centre for a bit just for the air con!

 

We also took a ferry from the main city of Naha to the outlying island of Tokashiki to chill on the beach at Aharen. Having another scorching day, we went for a dip and a snorkel on the beach and had to go and pay for an umbrella so we didn’t frazzle while we we were out of the water, but we both ended up burning anyway despite all our precautions!

IMG_1820To be honest, we didn’t really do much more than that. We attempted to (and in fact succeeded in) visiting a wetlands park, however only to find that it was closed on the one day we went there! However, it was a nice and relaxing few days, only for it as usual to feel like we’d never been away just as soon as we got back again!

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The Penguin Bar

Tucked away just round the corner from our hotel in Okinawa, we passed an intriguing place with the name on the sign of “ペンギンのいる Bar”, or in English, “the bar in which penguins are present”. With our interest piqued, we decided to drop in for a drink on our last night and see whether it lived up to its name.

Indeed it did!

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On passing through the door, we were greeted by a life size stuffed polar bear, and the chill of a room cooled to well below a normal room temperature. At the side of the bar was a huge tank, within which three little penguins were indeed present! They did have a little pool to swim around in, but for the whole time we were in there, they mostly kept to themselves and were nattering on to each other in the corner.

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On the table we had penguin shaped hand towels, and there was actually a reasonably wide range of (sadly non-penguin themed) snacks and drinks, and not too unreasonable prices either. There’s apparently three other penguin bars in Japan, in Ikebukuro and Kobe, if you fancy popping in somewhere more convenient.

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We sat around for about 40 minutes to see if they’d do anything (they didn’t) before realising that when they didn’t do anything it was effectively just a normal bar with a couple of penguins in the corner!

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The i-link in Ichikawa

Yesterday we were out in Chiba, and happened upon the i-link tower above Ichikawa station. With a free observation deck on the 45th floor, it gave commanding views of the city (in the distance!) and out to Tokyo Bay. Although the only really discernible features were Tokyo Sky Tree and the Edogawa River, the photos from the deck claimed that on a clear day you can see as far as Yokohama, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Mount Fuji! Not really sure I could see that far yesterday, but then I didn’t have my glasses on.

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