This morning I made a mental list of some places to visit and first visited ‘Manga Souko*’, a 24/7 second-hand shop, which sold all sorts: clothes, books, music, electronics, toys and various miscellaneous items. It was a bit expensive and also quite disorientating inside, with each different section playing different music which, when all mixed together, was a bit much. I spent a long time here looking at hats, as in the past I’ve been told that I have a “hatty face,” and settled, in the end, on a flat cap, which is something that every northern Englishman should own.
After that my next stop was to be Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum*, as the Museum of History closes on Thursdays. It sounded interesting anyway, plus it was raining and definitely not a day to be walking around outdoors.
I found a restaurant which let me order breakfast at 10.40, even though they finished serving breakfast at 10.30, which was great and meant, of course, that I didn’t have to go on a ‘Falling Down*’ style rant at the hapless restaurant staff. They also provided unlimited drinks or a “drink buffet,” as they called it. The coffee was very good too.
Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
The museum was great and very informative, covering all the history of Okinawa up to the present day, as well as folklore, nature and archaeology. It was also refreshing to read acknowledgement that there’s too much land development going on in Okinawa, which are small islands, though it seems unlikely that the development will stop anytime soon. They also seemed to paint a fair picture of Okinawa’s history, stating that Ryukyu* (as it was known), a kingdom which had been independent for around 500 years, had wanted to remain independent when they were annexed by Japan in the 1870s. I also learnt that from 1945-1972, Okinawa was occupied by the USA*, so the history of the islands is very interesting. There’s still an American military base there to this day, which probably explains the abundance of fast food restaurants and, judging by this quote, the relationship is still a bit testy.
“75% of the US military installations in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, where people have been plagued by crimes and incidents committed by US service members and the military’s civilian employees, threatening the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry.”
Some other interesting things I learnt about were: Minatogawa Man* (prehistoric people of Okinawa), Shisa* (a mythological beast which often adorns Okinawan houses) and Sanshin* (a Okinawan musical instrument which take many years to produce). The art gallery was good too, featuring the profiles of several wartime artists.
Next, to continue my day of doing things indoors I headed for the Zuisen distillery*, which makes Awamori*, a local spirit. However, after wandering around in the rain and being unable to find it I gave up, as I had a hole in my shoe and the rain was showing no signs of relenting. So I headed back to the hostel to relax and dry off.
I spent my last night in Okinawa in the Ukishima Float Cafe*, which was run by the same people who owned my hostel (Guesthouse CamCam*) and promised ‘Orion Beer, Awamori and Okinawan Food.’ Plus the beer was 300 Yen (which is cheap). For dinner I had Taco rice* which is notable, not only as it’s the only dish I ate that I can remember the name of, but also that it didn’t contain any pork! It doesn’t sound like it’s very traditional though, having only being invented in 1984. I also got to sample the elusive Awamori, though to my unrefined palate it tasted just like Sake. This was a good little bar though and I had a lovely evening, chatting with other customers and the staff.
*Manga Souko – https://www.mangasouko.com/en/
*Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum – http://www.museums.pref.okinawa.jp/english/
*Falling Down – I want breakfast – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eREiQhBDIk
*Ryukyu Kingdom – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryukyu_Kingdom
*American occupation – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Civil_Administration_of_the_Ryukyu_Islands
*Minatogawa Man – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minatogawa_Man
*Shisa – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shisa
*Sanshin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanshin
*Zuisen distillery – http://www.zuisen.co.jp/e/index.html
*Awamori – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awamori
*Ukishima Float Cafe – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ukishima-Float-Cafe/614533125339797
*Guesthouse CamCam – http://www.camcam-okinawa.com/index-en.html
*Taco Rice – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taco_rice