Nakijin in Okinawa / 沖縄の今帰仁

Happy New Year!
Wishing everyone happiness and health in 2018.

In this first post of the year, I’d like to write about our trip to Okinawa, the beautiful island in the south of Japan. Okinawa is known for its beautiful sea and is often compared to Sardinia in Italy.

Most Japanese people visit there in spring and summer, but we thought the strong sun would be too much for us whose skins are very pale. That’s why we visited there in winter but didn’t know that the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Unfortunately a storm hit the island during our visit and we had to stay inside for half a day at least. Despite that, we had an amazing experience and I’d love to share it with you here.

The water may not be as clear as summer, but is still beautiful.

The purpose of our trip was just to chill out and relax at the seaside, listening to the waves. The small village called Nakijin we chose was perfect for that purpose. It’s in the north of the main Okinawa island. We stayed in a neighbourhood called Imadomari that still has some nostalgic atmosphere. The hotel was amazing, right in front of the sea, and has only 4 rooms. From the sofa, bed and even bath room, we had a fantastic sea view. There are even an outdoor bath and chairs in the rooftop, which are just for guests staying the room! If the weather was great, we would have had a bath looking over the sea and starry sky outside. Well we couldn’t do that because of the weather, but it was just so relaxing to sit down in the balcony, looking at the sea and listening to the sound of waves.


Dream bath time!

The village was full of charms and we had a lovely stroll. Fukugi trees which are planted to protect houses from fire and storm winds can be found everywhere in the neighbourhood. Speaking of Fukugi trees, the Bise area in Nago is more famous. They have kept traditional sandy road there and local people broom the road every morning. The road in Imadomari isn’t sandy anymore, but still it was lovely to walk about. Most houses have Shisa around their gates. Shisa is said to be a lion in Ancient Orient. It was brought from China to Okinawa sometime between 13 and 15 centuries and was used as a symbol of authority and protection from evil spirits. From the end of 17th century, villagers started making stone Shisa in order to protect their villages from fire and disasters.

Fukugi trees in Nakijin

The biggest tourist spot would be the Nakijin Castle remains, which is now a world heritage site. Nakijin was a capital in the north in 14th century and this castle was used until 1609. The main features of the castle remains are the magnificent stone walls.They are not very high, but showed strong presence. The stone walls and the rainy weather reminded us of the UK somehow. But I’m sure if it was sunny, our impression would have been completely different because the sea was visible from the castle. Unfortunately the sea looked a bit dull and grayish, but on a sunny day, the emerald green sea must give a beautiful background to this castle.

Another great part of this village is its villagers. People here are very friendly. For example, we went to a restaurant that offers traditional Okinawan live music. We got to dance to traditional songs with other people, which was great fun! We’ve love to come back to this amazing village when it’s warm enough to swim.


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