Caves, Shopping, Feet-Eating Fish and Deadly Sushi, Oh My!
We did a lot of fun things during our visit to Okinawa, Japan, including an amazing zip lining and ropes course and a cheesy but fun visit to a pineapple farm. Those were definitely the highlights, but here are some other fun things we managed to squeeze in too…
Most of Okinawa World wasn’t really very exciting, but the Gyokusendo Cave was awesome. It’s the second longest cave in Japan, and 850 meters of the cave are open to walk through. It was really quite impressive–the things nature produces can be so amazing! There were thousands (I’m guessing, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating) of stalactites and stalagmites, some that nearly touched the floor and the ceiling. Even the man-made pathways were beginning to develop stalagmites!
Other than the caves though, Okinawa World was a bit of a bust. The “traditional” village seemed cheesy and touristy, and The Habu Park, a snake park, was more than a little sad and depressing. I’m no huge fan of snakes (especially poisonous ones), but their habitats were bare and their living spaces were extremely small…it doesn’t exactly seem like they are living a nice life. So if you ever make your way to Okinawa World, see the caves and don’t bother with the rest!
Shopping On Kokusai Dori
Our first excursion out in Okinawa was to the famed shopping street Kokusai Dori, and what an introduction it was! There are souvenir and tee shirt shops, restaurants, and even a big covered market. We saw a lot of interesting things, including many of the famous Shisa statues, which are said to keep bad spirits out and good spirits in when you post them by a front door. We also saw several groups of children performing traditional dance and music, and we saw a guy swallow a balloon. Oh, and I found a Starbucks. All in all, it was an interesting afternoon!
“Doctor Fish” are little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. It’s supposed to be sort of like a pedicure I guess, to keep your feet smooth. I’ve known about these fish for some time and I’ve always been adamantly against it. Fish eating my feet?! That is disgusting. But, when in Rome, or in this case, Japan, do as the Romans do. So we paid, stuck our feet in the tub, and then suffered through five minutes of nearly unbearable tickling as the little monsters ate dead skin off of our feet. It was gross, it tickled like crazy, and my feet felt the same as they did before the “doctor” fish, so essentially, I think we just paid to feed someone else’s fish. Oh well, it was an experience for sure!
(Potentially) Deadly Sushi
We had good sushi a few times while in Japan, but the notorious Yoshihachi’s Sushi Bar takes the cake. The chef, Yoshi Maekawa, is somewhat of a celebrity internationally–the walls of the restauarant are covered in photos of him with various celebrities, and we heard that Japanese celebrities will fly into Okinawa for the express purpose of coming to Yoshihachi’s Sushi Bar. Whether that’s true or not, it was good, and while in the hands of such a capable sushi chef, why not try some poisonous fish?
That’s right, we ate blowfish, which “are generally believed to be the second–most poisonous vertebrates in the world” according to Wikipedia, and we lived to tell about it. Mostly I just wanted to do this because one of my friends in the State’s is obsessed with trying blowfish, and I wanted to be able to rub it in his face that I did it first. So…we ate it. It was pretty anticlimactic. They’re only poisonous if you eat the wrong part of the fish, so again, with chef Yoshi Maekawa we were in good hands! It wasn’t anything spectacular though, and most of the other sushi on our boat-shaped platter was better!
In addition to our blowfish, we had many amazing meals. Here are the obligatory food pictures. Overall, it was a great trip, and I can’t wait until we can go back and see more of Japan!