Tuesday, November 06, 2007

First night on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa

The first time I heard of Okinawa, Japan was when I watched The Karate Kid 2 in the 80's. Ever since, I've wanted to visit the beautiful islands of Okinawa and explore the jungle, beaches and reefs as well as the unique culture. So finally, after a brief layover in Naha, Eiko, Miyuki and I arrived on Ishigaki Island this evening.

Eiko and Miyuki at Haneda Airport

On the way, there were some stunning views of the clouds and sea. The blue water was so clear you could see the bottom perhaps 7 meters deep or maybe more, even with the cloud cover.

[photo: view from airplane of light rays shining through the clouds]
just one of the breathtaking views from the plane between Naha and Ishigaki Island

The package that Eiko booked included a night at the Hotel Best Inn. While I don't think it lives up to its name, it's clean and has a free internet terminal among a number of decent little amenities, so I'm not able to complain (despite a bit of a damp moldy smell in the hall). They even provide some funny yukatas that look a bit like hospital gowns.

Everyone we've come across so far has been really helpful and friendly, and the food was great at the restaurant we went to. Originally we were headed for Iso, recommended by the Rough Guide to Japan for its picture menu and local food, but when we arrived, we ended up opting for another place just a few doors down called South Wind (translated) due to its rustic island atmosphere and similar, if not better pricing. One of the highlights was the yummy squid ink rice, and another was what they call sea grapes, served with long shreds of daikon radish. Mmmm. :)

[photo: steaming squid ink rice]
steaming squid ink rice

After a filling and delicious dinner, we checked out a few of the shops down the street. One thing you're sure to see here are shisa - sculpted little (or sometimes big) pairs of fiery lions that are believed by some to protect your home or shop.

shisa, small protectors of the home with big personality

I'll update this post later with a few more details once I get back to Tokyo on Saturday evening - we're planning to have some adventures on Iriomote and Kayama islands where there's little access to internet. Ciao for now!

Labels: , , , , ,