SLOW TRAVEL OKINAWA – Family Adventure Time: Exciting and relaxing, nature and culture experiences | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

SLOW TRAVEL OKINAWA – Family Adventure Time: Exciting and relaxing, nature and culture experiences

By Alex Gray Feb 9, 2022

Okinawa, located in the east of the Asian continent, is the southernmost island in Japan. It’s made up of a number of islands, including the main island of Okinawa, Miyako island, Ishigaki island, and so on. It has a mild climate all year round and is rich in nature, with beautiful emerald green seas and jungle-like forests teeming with precious wildlife. Through trade and exchange with China, Southeast Asia, and other countries, Okinawa has developed its own unique culture. Okinawa is a popular tourist destination for Japanese people and has been visited by many foreign nationals in recent years.

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Find Out What the Okinawa Islands Have in Store for You

The best way to spend your time in Okinawa is to get your body moving in Okinawa’s rich nature and to experience the unique culture of Okinawa through exciting adventures, but also to take some time to relax and refresh. It’s a great family holiday for parents and children alike. We hope you will come and visit us in Okinawa when travel to Japan resumes.

Beautiful Nature in Yanbaru

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Yanbaru, which extends across the northern part of Okinawa’s main island, is one of the largest subtropical evergreen forests in Japan. Not only is it home to subtropical plants such as palms and ferns, but also rare animals. In July 2021, it was registered as a World Natural Heritage site. Walking through the forest or kayaking down the river are both fun, but why not try using a zipline where you can see the forest from above? The zipline is an exhilarating and thrilling ride down a rope using a pulley system. The zipline is suspended above and between the trees, allowing you to enjoy nature as you slide down. Even if you are a beginner, you will be guided by experienced staff, so there is no need to fear. It’s also a great chance to enjoy yourself while learning about the forest ecosystem from an English-speaking guide who will explain everything in simple terms.

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Traditional Yachimun Crafts

Okinawa is home to many traditional crafts such as pottery, dyeing, and weaving. One of the most popular souvenirs from Okinawa is a type of pottery called “yachimun” in the Okinawan dialect, which is made using traditional techniques, but with designs and shapes adapted to modern life. A particularly popular yachimun design is that of the lion figurine called “Shisa“. Shisa are believed to ward off evil spirits, and in Okinawa, they are displayed on roofs and in front of doorways. Yachimun bowls and plates are also commonly used by the Okinawan people.

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There are many shops selling yachimun along Tsuboya Yachimun Street in Naha, capital city of Okinawa’s main island. It’s a great place to take a stroll while looking for yachimun you like. The Tsuboya Yachimun Dōjō is a place where you can actually try your hand at pottery-making. You can make your own yachimun while being taught the techniques. You can make your own shisa or perhaps a cup using the potter’s wheel. There is also a course for painting cups and plates. The skilled staff will teach you how to make it so you can have fun and enjoy experiencing the traditions of Okinawa.

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Local Cuisine of the Okinawa Islands

One of the most fundamental parts of enjoying a trip is tasting the local cuisine. Located between the Japanese mainland and the Asian continent, Okinawa has long been a center of foreign trade, and its food culture has often been influenced by other Asian countries. Among these influences in particular the “balanced diet leads to a healthy body” concept, which was introduced from China along with the cuisine, has been handed down to the present day. The idea is to prevent illness through eating a well-balanced diet, which is why there are so many elderly people in great health living in Okinawa. What’s more, Okinawa is hot and humid all year round, which means that food has always had to be prepared and stored in a unique way.

You can experience this one-of-a-kind Okinawan food culture through Yonner Food Cooking School’s “Experience Okinawan Life” cooking programme. You will go to the market with your instructor and will be introduced to a variety of local ingredients such as meats and vegetables, be able to talk to shopkeepers, and learn to cook with the ingredients you have bought at the market.

During the cooking experience, using the ingredients you have purchased, you will make dishes that are commonly cooked by local Okinawans. Your instructor, Ms. Kazumi Kayo, will teach you not only how to chop and season the vegetables, but she will also explain the characteristics and nutritional benefits of each ingredient in simple terms.

Once the dishes are made, the fun part is to taste them! It’s a fun time to eat and share your cooking with each other and talk about what you have made. For those looking to participate with children, we recommend “Handmade Chinsuko Cooking Experience”, a traditional Okinawan sweet confection. The course is suitable for children above 3 years old, which involves kneading dough, forming, and baking.

A Wonderful Place to Relax

We have also selected a place to stay that has an Okinawan feel. Located in Yomitan Village on the main island of Okinawa, just a 70-minute drive from Naha Airport, HOSHINOYA Okinawa is a resort where you can feel the culture and history of Okinawa in a location overlooking the sea. Stretching out in front of your room is a view of the beautiful ocean. The view through the large windows changes with the sun’s rays, meaning that no two moments are ever the same.

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The wallpaper that decorates one side of the bedroom depicts the flora and fauna of Okinawa and scenes of life in the past. The painting technique used is Ryukyu Bingata, a traditional Okinawan craft. It is the only dyeing technique in Okinawa.

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There is also a large swimming pool on the spacious grounds. The infinity pool, which looks as if it were connected to the sea, is designed like a puzzle with a depth ranging from 10cm to 140cm. The pool can be heated, meaning that it can also be used in winter. Floating in the warm water and listening to the sound of the waves, you will feel at one with the sea and the sky.

Experience Ryukyu Karate

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There are many programmes on offer here, but we recommend Ryukyu Karate, a martial art originating in Okinawa. This martial art is a fusion of the ancient martial arts of Ryukyu, Chinese martial art forms, and martial arts originating on mainland Japan. You will learn the spirit of Ryukyu Karate while learning basic kata (karate moves) and yakusoku kumite (sparring forms) to strengthen your core. 

The Okinawa Islands – Somewhere the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Explore the lush green forests and enjoy foods that can only be found in Okinawa. Not only will you refresh your mind and body, but you will also be stimulated intellectually by the culture and moved by the beautiful scenery. Okinawa is also a great place to shop, with Japan’s only roadside duty-free shop and many large shopping malls. Each island in Okinawa has its own unique landscape, culture, and cuisine, and we recommend visiting each island by boat or plane.

Why not visit Okinawa for a unique and special slow-travel experience that the whole family, adults, and children, can enjoy together?

There’s so much to be found here, from bountiful nature reserves to the rich food culture. Join the family fun in Okinawa!

VISIT OKINAWA JAPAN | Official Okinawa Travel Guide

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