Osaka to Okinawa

After spending a few weeks hanging out with friends and host families in Hiroshima and Osaka, I’m ending my spring break with a brief solo trip to Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. Once a semi-independent kingdom, Okinawa subtly separates itself from Japan’s other prefectures; its older generations speak Okinawan, and its classical architecture, i.e. that of castles and some homes, is markedly different from that of Japan’s other prefectures. Moreover, its remote location affords a unique topography. These characteristics collectively provide a sense that Okinawa is somehow distinct from most other regions of Japan.

Okinawa Prefecture is also referred to as the “Ryukyu Islands.” [source]
I started my first full day in Okinawa by waking up early to catch a ferry to the island of Tokashiki.

Approaching the island.

The island’s port was characterized by wild vegetation and rusty shacks, aged through years of salty sea-breeze. After briefly taking in the scenery, I grabbed a bike at the local rental shop, and started my adventure.

Rice paddies near Tokashiki’s port.

Half an hour’s cycle brought me to one of the island’s famous beaches:

Tokashiku Beach

Okinawa is renowned for its beaches, but most of the more famous ones, e.g. Tokashiku, are located away from the main island – where most tourists stay. Tokashiku alone made the trip worthwhile.

A view of Tokashiku from its connecting mountain road.

I spent a few hours reading and relaxing at the beach before hopping back on my bike.

One of the mountain roads connecting the island’s municipalities.

Alternating scenes of beaches and thick vegetation patterned the island’s landscape:

Aharen Beach
Aharen from above.

The island’s north coast featured a number of war memorials commemorating victims of World War II.

A memorial dedicated to Korean victims.
A memorial dedicated to Japanese victims. The island’s tragic history juxtaposes its beautiful scenery.

After spending a few hours cycling the length of the island, I finally caught a ferry back to Naha, where my hostel is. wpid-img_20150325_171840.jpg Spring break has been a blur of transit, catching up with friends, and eating delicious food. While I don’t want it to end, I’m also looking forward to the beginning of my second semester. Next week, for the first time in a while, I’ll be writing to you from Tokyo. Until then, good luck with the end of the semester!

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