There is something which draws people to Okinawa, a group of sub-tropical islands in the south of Japan with an extraordinary history, famous for beautiful beaches, fantastic food and warm-hearted locals with an authentic way of living.
Recently, the people of Okinawa invited six individuals from six different countries (US, Singapore, France, Thailand, China and Germany) to visit their islands and reveal a secret each. Watch this first video to find out more about this initiative.
The Secret is Out:
Each of the six individuals has a secret which they are keeping from their loved ones. As you find out their secrets, you get to discover a bit more about the attractions in Okinawa which draws people to the group of islands.
In the first video, Priscilla is a marketer from Singapore, who recently made a life-changing decision. She takes her parents to Okinawa to enjoy its food and culture and to reveal her secret to them in a very special way.
Singapore – Priscilla’s Secret:
In the video, Priscilla and her family visited the Makishi Market in Naha, a spectacular theatre of sights, sounds and flavors in which the leading actors are all women. As visitors enter from Kokusai Street, they are faced with a display of Okinawan cuisine lined up like a colorful chorus line of culinary temptations from tropical seafood, to pork, and simple island vegetables. Hungry visitors only need to step up to the second floor restaurants to satisfy their appetites.
They also visited Okinawa World, Okinawa’s foremost theme park which presents a kaleidoscope of local history, culture and nature all in one spot. The park’s main attraction is the Gyokusendo: a five kilometer long limestone cave that was formed approximately 300,000 years ago. Today the spectacular cave offers an 890-meter promenade for the public. Next-door is the Habu Park, a center that reveals the secrets of Okinawa’s most venomous snakes.
There is a scenic village of old time Okinawa and workshops showcasing Okinawa’s traditional industrial heritage and local folk crafts such as glass blowing and pottery. The traditional performance plaza offers high-spirited Eisa dances and other popular attractions.
In the second video, Eric, an unemployed trader from Paris, calls on the help of the local people of Kume Island, Okinawa to help him pull off a very romantic surprise for his supportive wife Isabelle.
Paris – Eric’s Secret:
Eric and his wife visited Kume, which lies about 90 km west of Naha City, is rich in natural greenery and historic sites. Ifu Beach, on the east of the island, and Hate no Hama (featured in the video, is approximately 20 minute from Tomari Fisherina by boat), an island made up entirely of wide sandy beaches, are among the most popular spots.
Kumejima is where traditional Japanese Pongee – the hand-spun silk, dyed with plant materials indigenous to the islands and used for kimonos – is said to have originated and is still made today. Deep-sea mineral water from this area is also used in food and cosmetics, and a warm 100% deep-sea mineral water bathhouse called “Bade House Kume” is hugely popular.
Just to the east of Kume island lies another magical spot on the south coast of Nishi-Ou Island. As the tide goes out, strangely patterned rocks appear that look rather like submerged turtle shells. Known as the turtle shell rocks they stretch in their hundreds along 250 meters of the beach and almost 50 meters deep. Protected by the prefecture, the rocks were originally created by cooling Andesite lava, which then splintered along what are called columnar joints – an extremely rare phenomenon anywhere in the world. Wave erosion has since worn the rocks down nearly flat and now they look like natural works of art.
The Uezu House was built in the mid 1700s in the Ryukyu Kingdom-era and features magnificent limestone walls surrounded by Fukugi trees. The family were Pechin – a rank equivalent to the Samurai – and for generations were the heads of Magiri an old administrative district. The whole estate including the main house and the ante-house, is very well preserved, and a remarkable remnant of its time. It is classed as a National Important Cultural Asset. But the residence is not presently open to the public.
Moving on to the third video, Mara, from Berlin, has been keeping a secret from her boyfriend for their entire relationship. Just months before their first baby is born, she takes him to the tropical islands of Okinawa to tell him the truth about the night they met.
Berlin – Mara’s Secret:
Mara and her boyfriend visited Yanbaru, a treasure trove of natural greenery. The semitropical old growth forest extends almost to the coastline while the thick evergreen broadleaf forest is home to a unique tropical ecosystem. Rare birds such as the Yanbaru kuina (Okinawan Rail) and the Noguchi-gera (Okinawan woodpecker) are native to this area and protected species. Eco-tours are extremely popular and include activities such as canoeing at Gesashi Bay, forest trekking and sea kayaking to the Hiji and Makiya Falls, all great ways to experience this richly diverse environment.
They also visited Kouri Island, Okinawa’s Garden of Eden as it is associated with a legend similar to that of Adam and Eve. Often referred to as the Island of Love for this reason, it is blessed with truly awe-inspiring landscapes and a surrounding ocean that constantly changes color from cobalt blue to emerald green. The best view of the island is from the Kouri Ocean that gives visitors amazing photo opportunities.
In the fourth video, Lucy from Shanghai found a secret message on her husband’s phone three years ago that changed her life forever. Watch as she confronts him with her secret in Okinawa and see how the magical islands help her re-embrace her happiness.
Shanghai – Lucy’s Secret:
Lucy and her husband visited Kariyushi Beach, a private beach in the Okinawa Kariyushi Beach Ocean Spa resort. With its clear shallow water, the beach provides safe swimming, and is very popular among families with small children.
They stayed at the Okinawa Kariyushi Beach Resort Ocean Spa. This 330,000 sq.m resort hotel overlooking the East China Sea offers both ocean and mountain view rooms and a wealth of facilities including a 25-meter indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts. Guests can enjoy eco-tours and marine sports during the day and relax in the aloe open-air bath or sauna at night. Early birds will also enjoy the morning market.
They visited Shuri Castle which is protected and inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a treasure of significant cultural or natural importance to the whole world.
Outside the main castle is the Shureimon gate. Among the ramparts made of quarried Ryukyu limestone, visitors can also find the Kankaimon, Zuisen and Hakuginmon gates. In the inner court, the main Seiden building stands with the Nanden (south hall) on its left and the Hokuden (north hall) on its right. Shuri Castle was destroyed during the war, but part of it has since been reconstructed. In 1992 the area was opened to the public as the Shuri Castle Park.
They also went to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. With its colorful backdrop of coral reefs and tropical fish, it is home to some of the world’s largest fish, whale sharks and manta rays and offers visitors an extraordinary odyssey into the world beneath the ocean. The aquarium has three main zones: the Sea of Corals beyond the 4th floor entrance; the Kuroshio (the Japan Current) zone, which features the world biggest perspex sheet panel (8.2 m in height, 22.5 m in width and 60 cm thick); and the Deep-sea World zone with luminescent deep-sea creatures.
They made a stop at the Tropical Dream Center. Whatever you dream of in nature, it’s here. Rare tropical plants, orchids, water birds, fish from the Amazon, stunning natural beauty, all displayed in a captivating architectural design. Divided into 14 themed zones, the Tropical Dream Center is a “palace of dreams” perpetually blooming with tropical and subtropical flowers. Nearly 2,000 species of orchids are displayed in three special greenhouses, allowing visitors to view orchids all year round. And each year in February, nearly 20,000 orchids from around the world are gathered here for the Okinawa International Orchid Show, a must for orchid lovers.
In the fifth video, Pop and Fern are a young, hip couple from Bangkok, Thailand. They come to Okinawa to spend some relaxing time together before getting married, but Pop is about to reveal a secret, which will make Fern think seriously about their future together.
Bangkok – Pop’s Secret:
The couple visited Zanpa Cape, which thrusts out to the west from the middle of Okinawa Island. At the tip of the cape stands a tall white lighthouse, majestic in its solitary dignity. The surrounding area is covered with thickets of Adan (screw pine) trees and the typical coastal vegetation of subtropical Okinawa. The cape is a popular fishing spot and the rocks along the water are usually well populated with fishermen. A huge Shisa lion-dog guards the entrance to the Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza. Here you’ll find a playground of bicycles, restaurants, shops, barbecue pits and more.
They also went for some wonderful shopping in Naha City, Kokusai Street and New Paradise streets behind the Matsui bus stop are the places to head for. Full of traditional and modern craft shops, souvenir shops, delightful cafés and restaurants serving tempting fare every few meters, the entire area is a magnet for shopping lovers. And for more unique purchases the little back streets can offer some real ‘finds’.
In the sixth video, Lonnie is 65 years old and has never left the USA. His young daughter Julie flies with him to Okinawa, Japan to introduce him to the excitement of foreign travel and to tell him a very sensitive personal secret.
Arkansas – Julie’s Secret:
The father and daughter pair visited Ishigaki Island, a treat for all the senses. Lively markets tempt visitors with lines of food stalls selling the unique local Yaeyama islands cuisine, while magnificent natural scenery and stunning Kabira Bay – designated the best scenic view by the government – provide an endless gallery of visual treats. The Tamatorizaki Observatory offers dazzling displays of hibiscus flowers for another dimension of natural pleasures.
They covered Taketomi Island, which lies six kilometers southwest of Ishigaki. A tiny jewel, the island is totally flat and just nine kilometers round. With a warm and welcoming village community, and rows of charming houses with red tiled roofs and garden walls of coral stone alongside white sand-covered roads, Taketomi is a tranquil heaven on earth. Not surprisingly, the entire town has been designated a National Traditional Architecture Preservation District.
They also visited Kabira Bay, one of Ishigaki’s best-known tourist spots and the exquisite venue has received three stars from the French edition of the Michelin Green Guide to Japan. Strong currents preclude swimming, but the stunning views of coral and marine life visitors can enjoy from the many glass-bottomed boats more than make up for it.
Did you enjoy learning all the secrets of each individuals while learning more about the secret draws of Okinawa for tourists at the same time?
What is amazing is that all of the locations featured in the video are very accessible for tourists, with relevant information provided for those who are interested to visit the exact same places.
If you are planning to head to Okinawa for a holiday, do check out the videos!
Access to Okinawa:
Regular flights from major domestic airports such as the Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Central Japan International Airport (Centrair), and Kansai International Airport to Okinawa’s gateway Naha Airport operate daily.