Here are a few highlights from our explorations:
1) Delicious food and tea was EVERYWHERE.
Ah, the motherland for Japanese food and tea lovers! I documented every meal, the grocery stores, and even the drink vending machines you’ll find around every corner. Above is an inexpensive Family Mart convience store bento lunch I enjoyed with an delicious bottled oolong tea at the beach.
2) 100-Yen Stores and Shopping.
There were bento boxes, tea cups, and more that cost a fortune in the states available for cheap at 100 yen stores in Japan. Besides the 100 yen stores, Window shopping was very rewarding. Attention to detail is evident in everything; for example, above is a selection of bath rugs in the prettiest collection of patterns and textures I've ever seen.
3) Castles, Shrines, Culture, History
We did a lot of sight-seeing. We saw all the ancient castles Okinawa had to offer, caves, kitschy tourist attractions, and secret shrines in clandestine mountain caves and proverbial cubby holes. Finding and exploring these hidden sights was my favorite part of the trip.
4) Beautiful Beaches and Mountains: Sea and Sky
Okinawa, Japan has a tropical climate. When it wasn’t raining I was able to enjoy the pristine white-sand beaches and calm, clear waters. I loved hiking through the mountains, swimming, and exploring the diverse landscape.
5) That gorgeous vintage shop in the mountains
Of course the vintage shop and café we stopped at deserves another mention. It was such an unexpected treat. I love taking less-traveled paths to discover the unusual, I find the best thrift stores and vintage treasure troves this way.
Honorable Mention: The Worst Karaoke You'll Ever Hear...
You can't visit Japan without singing Karaoke with some locals! I laugh every time I watch this! By the way, I was in heaven because this Karaoke joint had a HUGE selection of early, hard-to-find Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson tunes! But not “Dick in a Box” which has become my trademark Karaoke jam!
It’s been a beautiful, dream vacation for this Japanophile. I’ll miss Japan, but I’m eager to get home and work on my Twelve before 2012 list, have meetings with my business partners, and spend time with friends and family.
Let's all take mini-vacations every weekend. Even if it's a picnic at an unexplored park in our neighborhoods; it's good for the soul.