社会学研究科博士課程前期課程社会学専攻 2013年4月～2014年3月 所属 ライデン大学
I know what you’re thinking. “Of course it is! Duh…” But really, is it? Technically speaking Okinawa is undoubtedly part of Japan, but geographically, ethnically, climatically, and even linguistically, it is absolutely not. The island is separated from Japan by over a thousand kilometers of ocean (everybody loves the metric system, get with it), the people you meet will outwardly not look like the Japanese throng you’ve been confronted with so far (or will be), the concept of winter is one that is unfamiliar to this island, and yes, you will probably even have problems using any Japanese language skills you might want to put to use.
As to not paint too much of a negative picture, let me say this right now. Okinawa is wonderful! It’s the paradise you need, away from the sprawling cities that make up Japan! Seriously, it’s finger-licking-sunbathing-great!
Anyway, moving on. Okinawa has it all. Or it doesn’t, depending on how you look at it. First of all, don’t expect to find all the convenient and always available comforts you have in Tokyo. Konbini’s are scarce, clubs close to non-existent, and you’re going to have a hard time finding something that resembles breakfast early in the morning. However! Beaches are plentiful, the weather is beautiful, and the city of Naha emanates a great atmosphere during the evening hours when sight-seeing or simply lazing around on the beach are no longer viable options. In short, get out that swimwear and go the beach. And trust me; these beaches are nothing like the pitiful stretches of sand filled with a panoply of waste that can be found in places near Tokyo, like Kamakura or Enoshima. Better yet, just put on a bathing suit when you wake up and don’t take it off, nobody will look at you twice for doing so.
So you jauntily get out of bed with the sun shining brightly and head of to the beach, right? Right! Well… kinda… First you have to get there and that’s kind of a hassle. As opposed to Tokyo and its intricate railway and subway system, Okinawa has a single line. Did I mention this line goes nowhere near any place you actually want to go? No? Well, it doesn’t. If you want to go somewhere, you have three options; you can rent a car (highly recommended), you can take the bus, or you can get a taxi.
Luckily, you are rather well versed in Japanese or have learned some during your classes. You can do this! You just have to mention where you want to go to find out if this is in fact the bus that will take you where you want to go. When you actually strike up the conversation, you realize you’re not stuttering. You can even find all the words you thought you had forgotten earlier! Great! He looks at you somewhat annoyed. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.” Excuse me?! You think while he is frantically gesturing to get you out of his precious bus. He can’t have you delaying the bus. Well, at least that part is similar to Japan… Stopping a taxi and pointing at your guide book it is then…
All things aside though, if you go to Japan, you cannot miss out on the jewel that is called Okinawa. If you like sun, sea and white sandy beaches, you will not be disappointed!