It may not ever get voted into the greatest movies of all time but one of my favourites is ‘The Karate Kid‘ (1984). Daniel-san’s mentor was of course Mr Miyagi who came from Okinawa (the character and not the late-actor who was American) so I was very happy when my girlfriend recently booked us on a 5 days and 4 nights trip round some of the nearby islands where the snorkelling is great.
The ‘Karate Kid part II‘ (1986) was set in Okinawa and gave me my first glimpse of Japanese life and since then I have been interested in visiting the area. Very sad I know but I can definitely say that it didn’t play any part in me deciding to move to Japan. The fact that it was actually filmed in Hawaii doesn’t matter so much.
Okinawa is a bit of a subtropical area (usually) consisting of a few dozen small islands in the south west of Japan near Taiwan. We are not going to the main island other than for a transit. Instead we are going to sample Okinawan life on three little islands which I am looking forward to very much. The islands are Ishigaki-jima, Kuroshima and Taketomi-jima which are actually about 400km south of Okinawa’s main island.
Basically these islands are famed for warm climate, fine beaches, some amazing scuba diving opportunities and some traditional culture. Unlike some I don’t like the idea of deserted beaches as I like to be able to watch people. That shouldn’t be a problem though as we’re going during the Golden Week season which is the busiest, not to mention the most expensive, time for travelling in Japan as days off in bulk are very very rare here (a lot of employees don’t even use up their allocation of holidays each year which is just madness to us but thats how it is here and thats also another story in its own) and so millions of people will be congregating in the most popular destinations.
These islands were formerly belonging to the USA (a strong military presence still exists) and are supposed to be very different from the rest of Japan in terms of food, language and arts so it should hopefully be an interesting experience assuming I can actually recognise such differences which may not be so obvious to people like me.