I had returned home from Tokyo, yes I have been there eight times now and am getting to know the city a little better. But Okinawa, of course, is my love. I know the main island is small but there is still so much I have not seen after two and a half years here. My dearly departed friend Ricardo, I don’t mean he died, but that he went back to the States, had told me of a little island that had the best snorkeling in Okinawa.
Minnajima, also known as Croissant Island, because of its the shape, is a small island off the Motobu Penninsula, very close to Churaumi Aquarium and Sesoko Island. Okay, if you don’t live here in Okinawa, that means nothing to you. But from my house it is a little over an hour’s drive to Toguchi Port. I arrived in the morning to overcast skies with an occasional appearance from the sun. I got to the port early and walked around the little town and took in some of the street traffic, seen below. Yeah, it’s a small place, but I like small places.
I bought my round trip tickets for about $15, about a twenty minute ride. As we pulled out, I watched these fishermen perched on their buckets. I always wonder if they catch anything, because the guys by my house just seem to hang out…as in America, maybe just an excuse to get out of the house. Almost immediately pulling out of the port, Minnajima came into view. Beaches skirted the island and could be seen from quite a distance. I also noticed a lack of people, which is one of my favorite attractions.
The prospect of snorkeling was appealing to me, but on this day, I just wanted to wander around for a few hours, maybe get a tan if the sun came out. And yes, I want to be brown like Uchinanchu, so I will not be wearing arm sleeves or these visors that make me look like a beekeeper. Anyone who has been here will know what I’m talking about.
We pulled into port and the water was glorious. I don’t have the vocabulary to do justice, and the photos I have can’t give you the feel and the deep teal of the Okinawa waters. But it was incredible, Okinawa always delivers…every time.
There was one Caucasian couple on the little ferry, I think they were European, a man-bun was in evidence and of course I attempted to avoid them. However, for whatever reason, I still can’t figure this out, Caucasians like to group together. If I saw any of these people in the States, they wouldn’t make an effort to be next to me, but over here, they tend to flock to each other. I always say this as if I am not a Caucasian… regardless I started up the walkway, which struck me as very Greek looking.
Immediately I saw a little abunai (danger) sign that there are habu (poisonous snakes) in the more dense vegetation. I took heed as I planned on seeing the whole of the island.
I like that they write the sign in red and just put a picture of a snake on there…you don’t need to be literate to understand. Of course, I read Hiragana and Katakana, so I could pick out the habu and ni (the location and time marker particle) and keep my distance.
Pictured above are a couple of Okinawan Shisa, they are always a couple and the male always has his mouth open. It is because the male catches happiness in his mouth and gives it to the female. She hold the happiness in her mouth. If you look at these two, they are wearing the Ryukyu print called Bingata. These two were protecting a small homestead from evil spirits or bad luck in general, and they looked quite happy in their work. But note, they are both holding a bo…so, like the Uchinanchu, they appear happy and sweet, but know how to protect themselves and others quite well.
After trekking around the island and exploring little hidden pathways, I decided to head back to the main beach and get some sun. I was shopping in the Kadena Air Force Exchange a few weeks ago and came across a sarong and decided that since I live in a tropical area, I should have one.
I brought my backpack with me and dropped down on a little piece of heaven. The beach was my own and I sacked out for an hour or so. I did scour the beach for sea glass as I think it is a lovely little gem from the waters. I found some beautiful blue and green pieces. As you can see in the picture below, the beaches are made up of coral fragments and occasionally sand, but if you’re looking for powder soft sandy beaches, look elsewhere, that is not a feature of the Ryukyus.
It got to be time to head back and I wound my sarong very glamorously around me, and set off for the ferry. It was only about three or four hours, but I highly recommend this little place if you’ve got an afternoon free to wander. Next time I will do the snorkeling tour.
Have a great week everyone. For all you folks in the Northeast, I hope Winter decides to pack up and go home! Drive safely in the mean time!