10 Reason to visit Okinawa

As a military brat I have moved the majority of my life. By the age of fourteen, I had attended about eight different schools (or the ones I am able to remember.) And for about two years of my life I traveled between the U.S., Japan and Okinawa.It was my first time stepping foot out of the U.S., and my first time traveling alone. Okinawa is an island off the coast of Japan. Here’s a bit of history about the island.

Before becoming part of Japan it was an independent kingdom known as the Kingdom og the Ryukyus. It was a small, but powerful kingdom, even defending itself against the Japanese military in the 1400s.   It’s capital city is Naha and is a very busy part of the island. The locals speak Okinawan or Ryukuan language, but during WWII they were forced to speak Japanese.

And because I loved the island and my weekly adventures. I would like to share with you 10 reasons you should visit the small, but powerful island in the Pacific.

1. Beaches

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Okinawa has some of the clearest waters in the Pacific. Many of the beaches on the island are man made and located near resorts.

2. American Village

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Despite its name you will find many Japanese gadgets, clothes and food here. It’s kind of like an outdoor mall. It’s where many military and locals hang out to exchange cultures, languages and traditions. If you’re looking for a place to grab dinner or go on a date this would be the place to go.

3. The Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato

It’s a potato. It’s purple. It’s grown on Okinawa. They are mildly obsessed with this vegetable. They sell it in Kokusai street in the form of bread. It’s as if a sweet potato went on a diet and changed it’s hair color. But it has a lot of nutrition and vegetarians around the world swear by it.

4. Busena Underwater Observatory

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The underwater observatory is located in Bankoku Shinryokan in Nago City. The observatory is 5 to 7 meters below the surface of the water.

5. Scuba Diving

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Okinawa is known for its open ocean and deep sea scuba diving. There are many places to get licensed to scuba dive. But, be careful you can find yourself swimming with poisonous sea urchins.

6. Coco Curry

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One of my favorite places to eat at on Okinawa It is not native to the island but it is a must try. In the U.S. Coco Curry is only located in the west (boo!) The first time I touched down in Tokyo I was told about the flavorful awesomness and how delicious and budget worthy this place was.

7. Kokusai Street

IMG_20150208_132524182[1]Kokusai has been compared to parts of California.  Every Sunday they shut Kokusai St. down for tourists and those who would like to get their shop on in an Hollywood like environment. The Japanese word Kokusaidori translates to International Road.

8. The Okinawans

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The native Okinawan boys.

They are some of the most friendliest people in the world. While roaming the beaches with my friend, we were invited to join in on a traditional wedding. They invited us simply because we walked by, waved and smiled.

9. The food

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Japanese dumplings and Fried Rice

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Bakeries on Okinawa.

Specifically, the bakeries. Bakeries on Okinawa are located everywhere but to be more specific you can find them in the local malls Aeon or the local farmers market.  They are yen-friendly as well. You can purchase about 10 items under 3 U.S. dollars or 300-yen.

10. It’s history

As a history buff I made it one of my goals to visit historical monuments, museums, shrines and temples at least once a week. Places I recommend include:

Shurijo Castle:

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The kingdom’s political and ceremonial center, with government and artesiana residing in the surrounding areas.

Zakimi Site:

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Built in the early 1400 by architect and feudal warlord Gosmaru of Chuzan, this site was used by the Japanese army as a missile base during WWII.

Rukyu Glassware:

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The glassware was created with the use of old soda cans from World War II. It is a popular go-to glass gift for many tourists.

 

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Life on island.

Quick update on my adventures on island via photos. The first two photos you see are taken near the seawall. My favorite place to relax and enjoy the sea breeze. While getting my financial guarantee notarized I snapped a photo of an old, historical Quonset Hut. This Hut was used for nearly everything, including work offices, chapels and medical facilities. It is also the last of its kind on the Kadena Air Base. Also Mcdonald’s finally got their shipment of fries because they gave us a medium set. (haha)

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Good Food, Memories, and a Merry Christmas in Okinawa

IMG_20141225_085602830Scrolling through the blogs I follow, I noticed everyone has already posted their Christmas goodies from their loved ones and their overall experience. Well, here I am to join in on the sharing of my day. After all, sharing is caring and I would like to think this day is dedicated to sharing and showing gratitude towards your loved ones. Oh and let’s not forget about the good food, laughter and the ever growing closeness of family. This year for me was a bit different. I am on Okinawa and not surrounded by my kin in my grandfather’s small, yet cozy house in Georgia.  My parents are big on family, so this year for them was the year of adjustment. For the next three years they will be celebrating birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other major Holidays on the lovely island of Okinawa. Although they didn’t have the chance to spend this holiday with their extended family, Christmas did not skip a beat.

 When I was younger the 25th of December brought joy to my heart. Mostly because I knew I would be receiving mounds of new gifts and goodies from Santa Claus. This year fIMG_20141225_090951749or me was different. I had been separated from my family for 6 months. Like my parents I am also big on family. My Christmas gift to myself was to be with family and enjoy the time we do spend together. On the 15th of December Ireceived my gift. I was reunited with my family and there was nothing more I wanted. When Christmas day arrived it was greeted like any other day. I was awaken to a Christmas card under my door from my father and a customized goodie bag from my mother. I followed my 15-year-old sister, Akayla, downstairs towards the Christmas tree. Since she is the youngest I waited for her to begin opening presents. I grabbed my phone and began recording the gift unwrapping.

IMG_20141225_085942893 Then it was my turn. As I said before I received my ultimate Christmas wish earlier in the week. I unwrapped a square-shaped gift labeled “from Mom & Dad” and to my surprise it was a Ipad Air (thank you mom & dad *smiling from sea to shining sea*). I reacted to this gift like a 5-year-old learning about them going to Disney World. (Watch my reaction here) The next gift I unwrapped was from Akayla, this gift truly surprised me. I am big on organic oils, clays and soaps. By nature it was only right she blessed me with organic soaps from Petaluna.

Petaluna is an organic soap andIMG_20141225_112132958 oil place located in Depot Island, a hot spot in American Village. Next up were two over-wrapped gifts by my father. In the over-wrapped rectangular package was a box of Russell Stover chocolates (thanks for gracing me dad) and in the over-wrapped square shaped box was perfume designed by Halle Berry.

 Quite the story on the perfume from my dad, he bought my little sister some fragrance by Beyonce. My little sister opened her fragrance before I opened mine. Knowing my father I thought he purchased us the same fragrance. Not the case. This is how he explained it, “I bought you Halle Berry because she is older. And you are the oldest. I got her Beyonce, because she is younger than Halle. And your sister is younger”. His thought process is obviously genius.

 Moving onto the dinner my parents graced my belly with. Naturally it was only right to indulge and over eat on food that took a day and night to prep. That is exactly what I did. My mother made her infamous macaroni and cheese with sides of sweet honey ham, dressing made by my dad and cabbage (because they are from the south). For dessert we were blessed with my mom’s chocolate cake and delicious pecan pie. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving was three weeks earlier and my parents have discontinued making huge dinners for both holidays.

 Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. A special thanks to the troops stationed in places where they can not reach their families for the holidays.

 Follow my Twitter (@betruenicole) and my Instagram (@brieeee_nicolee) and my other Instagram dedicated to the delicious Okinawa food (@onlyherefornakedfood) for more insights on my adventures on Okinawa.

Things I Miss About Okinawa.

As many may know this past summer I was indulging in a new life; the life of a islander on the little island of Okinawa off the coast of Japan. I returned  to America at the end of my summer break to begin school and to get back to my old life. Everyday I crave for the clear, warm waters of the Okinawan beaches and the taste of the native foods. In fact, one of my Japanese friends are making fried rice for me tonight. I am beyond excited to return to my new home in December. Until then below are pictures of things I miss the most including friends, family, and culture.

Fried Rice at Thai in the Sky.

Fried Rice at Thai in the Sky.

Ha Ha Ha infamous cupcakes.

Ha Ha Ha infamous cupcakes.

Finding Nemo!

Finding Nemo!

Bakeries on Okinawa.

Bakeries on Okinawa.

Japanese dumplings and Fried Rice

Japanese dumplings and Fried Rice

The view of Azama Beach.

The view of Azama Beach.

Shuri Castle of the Yukyu Kingdom.

Shuri Castle of the Yukyu Kingdom.

Japanese-Indian Food Samosa.

Japanese-Indian Food
Samosa.

The native Okinawan boys.

The native Okinawan boys.

My little sister Akayla on her birthday.

My little sister Akayla on her birthday.

Grilled chicken on top of sticky rice, mixed in with avocado, tomato, and lettuce.

Grilled chicken on top of sticky rice, mixed in with avocado, tomato, and lettuce.

Sunset Beach at Okinawa, Japan located near American Village.

Sunset Beach at Okinawa, Japan located near American Village.

Japanese Taco Rice.

Japanese Taco Rice.

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Tokyo at Night.

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American Village on the Weekends.

I really do enjoy American Village!

I really do enjoy American Village!

One of my best friends and someone I consider a sister!

One of my best friends and someone I consider a sister!

Silly times with Family.

Silly times with Family.

Hiking in the gardens.

Hiking in the gardens.

More exotic seafood. Yummy

More exotic seafood. Yummy

Deciphering the money on my own.

Deciphering the money on my own.

My internship.

My internship.

My friends I made at work.

My friends I made at work.

Working on the beach.

Working on the beach.

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Countdown the 5th Day: American Village

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My last couple of days on the island of Okinawa. Of course it is spent shopping in American Village.

Food Review: Bakeries on Okinawa

To all new comers these are places you must go to. You can find them located in American Village at the local mall called Aeon. It is located on the first floor towards the grocery section. The baked goodies are normally around 1.50 or 150-en you can expect to feed yourself for less than 500-en(5$). Bakeries are located all over the small island of Okinawa. You grab a tray and tonsils and place your baked goods on the plastic, brown tray.

Where are they located: Bakeries on Okinawa are located everywhere but to be more specific you can find them in the local malls Aeon or the local farmers market.  The closest one to Kadena AFB and Foster are located in American Village, that is just 10 mins away.

How much can you expect to pay: I have yet to pay over 5-en for any of my baked goodies. The prices range from 50-en to 200-en (.50 to 2). It is a great place to stop and have lunch if you are on a tight schedule or if you have smaller children and are not looking to spend a lot of money  on food. Also, they accept credit/debit cards but it is always better to have yen around as it can be much cheaper.

What do they offer: At the small, local bakeries they offer sweet treats, pizza, hotdog crusted pizza, and different breads with various seasonings on them.

Bakeries on Okinawa

Bakeries on Okinawa: Two broccoli, chicken pizza, a margarita pizza and a baked bread with (fish) seasoning (?)

 

To see more delicious foods from Okinawa follow my instagram @onlyherefornakedfood

Delicious, Fast and Cheap: Japanese Restaurant Review

Japanese dumplings and Fried Rice

Japanese dumplings and Fried Rice

Konnichi Wa Japan and Good morning America!
So today I decided to take a break from reality and do a little shopping around American Village today. During my shopping break I stopped at this tiny Japanese restaurant located by the Sega Bowling Alley (you can’t miss it, it as a big Sega and pinball statue). It is on the first level of that building.

Unfortunately I can not remember the name of the restaurant at this time, but I can remember the delicious taste of my Gyoza Dumplings and my Fried Rice and the wonderful service offered at the restaurant. The restaurant is small on the inside, it only sits about 4 people on the bars after that you have to take a seat at the outside tables, which there are about three. As soon as my friend and I sat down at the outside tables we were greeted by one of the Japanese workers. She brought with her a pitcher of water and two small cups filled with ice (which I needed badly, it was so hot and humid out today).The server gave us a moment to look over their menu (she even pointed to the English menu).

The beauty of this restaurant is it was a cheap and fast homemade meal. The Gyoza dumplings were only 3$ or 300-en and came in a group of 5 and the fried rice was 2.50$. I haven’t been on this island long (a month to be exact) but this is the cheapest plate of fried rice I have ever ordered, the dumplings being so cheap allowed for me to try another piece of Japan without breaking my bank! All together my meal was priced at 5.50$ or 550 yen! The food was delivered to us quickly after we ordered at the aroma and taste did not fail us!

Overall it was a great experience, atmosphere and the quick service was exactly what we needed to end our shopping spree.

For more Japanese Restaurant or Food Reviews follow my Instagram @onlyherefornakedfood