Thursday, February 2, 2012

Okinawa Rendez-vous -- for real! ;b

The squid ink yakisoba (fried noodle) lunch set at
Ashibiuna, a restaurant located in an old,
noble residence near Okinawa's Shuri Castle

View across gorgeous, clear waters
to Ie island from the grounds of the
Ocean Expo Park on Okinawa Honto

Late afternoon view from the -- I kid you not --
private beach of the hotel that we stayed at
in northern part of Okinawa island :)

A few years back, a colleague introduced me to an Okinawan izakaya in Causeway Bay here in Hong Kong -- and for a time, Kusuya-Rakuen was my go-to place to go after a stressful day at work, what with it seeming to have the perfect combination of great food (with my favorites including the soft tofu with toppings that included tuna sashimi and yam, and sea grapes), good drinks (Asahi and Orion beer on draft along with a wide selection of awamori) and a comfortably welcoming decor and overall atmosphere.

Unfortunately, I felt that the food quality there dropped radically about a year and a half ago. But even though I stopped patronizing that dining (and drinking) establishment, I never did lose my love as well as taste for Okinawan food that it gave me -- and, along with it, a desire to visit the Ryukyu Islands at some point in time.

This past week, that ambition was realized when I went to Okinawa's main island for a short vacation. And to add some icing to the already quite substantial cake, my visit there involved my meeting up with two friends -- one from the USA who I last saw seven years ago , the other of whom is originally from there but now lives in Tokyo -- in that part of Japan that can feel like a world unto itself. Alternatively put: we enacted our own Okinawa Rendez-vous -- albeit one that I actually thought turned out to be better than the 2000 Hong Kong film bearing that name that was, in fact, the first Hong Kong movie I viewed in Hong Kong itself!

To be honest, despite reading some about Okinawa and also having seen the place appear in movies such as the afore-mentioned Okinawa Rendez-vous, Takeshi Kitano's Sonatine (1993) and Yuji Nakae's Nabbie's Love (1999), I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the place. As it turned out, I have to say that the beauty of the ocean and beaches there far surpassed the levels that I thought that they would be at. At the same time, my Okinawan vacation was indeed as relaxing as -- and actually more pleasant than -- I had hoped it would be.

Although my general preference is to travel by myself (or, at most, just one other person), I think that the three of us actually collectively made for good company. Also, I have to admit that Okinawa is not the kind of place I'd have wanted to visit on my own as, among other things, its public transportation is not at the level of much more urban parts of Japan -- and consequently makes it so that those who rent a car, like we did, probably will have a more enjoyable vacation than those who don't. (And what with my not liking to drive, suffice to say that it was a great relief that I didn't spend any time behind the driver's wheel this past week, yet managed to benefit from the independence that came with not having to rely solely on public transportation in Okinawa!)

As can be imagined, we spent a lot of time talking and laughing over the course of our Okinawan rendez-vous. And yes, we definitely did do our share of eating really delicious food -- including at one very local izakaya in Nago which served up the biggest seafood salad I've ever seen (and wow, was it tasty too!)! Also, lest there be any doubt, we did go about doing our share of sightseeing as well. In addition, while a faulty adapter and the inability to get a replacement for it made it so that I ended up taking way fewer photos on this holiday than I wished I could have, I still did manage to snap some shots that I reckon are worth sharing on this blog -- starting with this entry along with a few others in the coming week or two. :)


ulaca said...

Have heard good things about this place, which we may visit when we've packed the bairn off to boarding school.

mister bijou said...

Ah, Sonatine!

YTSL said...

Hi ulaca --

You packing the bairn off this September? Okinawa should be lovely in autumn. :)

Hi mister bijou --

I take it that you're a fan of that film (and/or Takeshi Kitano in general)? :b

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

Yes, indeed this was a very fun trip.
Good company, excellent food and gorgeous views. All much much better than the movie!

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

I'm so glad you feel the same way -- and really do hope that the third member of our party feels this way too about the trip. :)

eliza bennet said...

I love to read your travel post (and pics)

Also glad to hear that your vacation went well and ...

Tell us more please!

YTSL said...

Hi "eliza bennet" --

Your wish is my command... in this instance at least! ;b

Go here:-

And yes, more to come. :)