Just because it’s winter in Okinawa, doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy all the festivals and year-end celebrations! Here are a few things happening on island this week:
If you love nature and haven’t yet been to the Tropical Dream Center at Ocean Expo Park, now’s your chance to go. The Center is featuring a Hawaiian hibiscus exhibition, through January 13. Take in the beautiful sights and smells, and get some pretty photos, too. Hours are 8 am to 5 pm. Adult tickets are ¥670, and children are ¥340.
Also at Expo Park is one of many Illuminations happening on island—see thousands of Christmas lights adorning the park in the Expo Park Winter Fantasy, happening 6 to 9 pm every evening through January 13. Admission is free.
And, don’t miss out on the reenactment of the traditional Royal New Year ceremony at Shurijo CCastle, happening on January 1 and 2 from 10 am to 11:50 pm. The ceremonies present the Ryukyu king and queen, and this year will exhibit live traditional music performances. Photo sessions with the king and queen, and jasmine tea will also be available. Admission to Shurijo castle is ¥800 for adults, and range from ¥300 to ¥600 for kids older than six. Children six and under are free.
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Finding it hard to get in the Christmas spirit on this subtropical island? Do you miss driving around neighborhoods to look at the different houses decorated with Christmas lights? Then be sure to visit the Itoman Peaceful Illumination festival, happening at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman. Thousands of lights adorn the park in all sorts of shapes and colors. It starts this Friday, December 14, and runs through January 3. Open from 6:30 to 10 pm. Admission is free.
Get outside and enjoy the beautiful flowers at the Hibiscus Festival also starts this Friday, December 14, at Iejima Hibiscus Park, in the Ie Country Club. The festival runs from December 14-23, and is open from 8 to 5 pm . Admission is free.
And, if you like listening to Japanese drums, don’t miss the free Wadaiko Fureai Festival on Sunday, featuring Japanese drum and dance performances. The festival takes place at the Yomitan Culture Center in Otori Hall, and starts at 5 pm. While the concert is free, attendants need to register at the event at get a numbered ticket.
Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 2:00 pm. 2 comments
The American Chamber of Commerce in Okinawa is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1953 and has over 100 members from the American and Okinawan business communities.
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Capricciosa is a Japanese Italian restaurant chain with over 130 locations across Japan. They've had a location in American Village next to the multiplex cinema for as long as we can remember. It's the perfect stop for a meal before the cinema if you fancy something different from the Tony Roma's that is next door.
The good (or bad) thing depending on how you look at it is that they serve a steady menu of good sized portions of Japanese Italian food which rarely changes. That way if you find a favorite item on the menu it's probably still going to be there when you go back again a month or two later!
The menus is pretty extensive, so you're unlikely to get bored. If you're feeling healthy there are several good salads in decent portions like the Caesar salad and also the smoked salmon salad. They also have some tempting appetizers including deep fried calamari and if you're feeling adventurous escargots in garlic butter sauce.
For main courses they have a wide variety of pasta, pizza and also a couple of meat choices. There are traditional Italian favorites such as carbonara but also more Japanese influenced Italian fare with several pasta dishes featuring fish including spaghetti with crab, spaghetti with clams in broth and spaghetti with calamari and onion in a squid ink sauce. There are around 4-5 other types of pasta dishes but more of the pasta here is spaghetti with accompanying sauces and ingredients.
Capricciosa is reasonable priced with most pasta dishes around 1000 yen although if you're feeling truly hungry you can double size your pasta!
Open 7 Days
8 Mihama, Chatan-cho, 904-0115
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If you're looking for a place to celebrate the party season with work colleagues or friends, check out the special packages from Bovino's Brazilian BBQ below:
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The hustle and bustle of our often jam packed schedules makes it easy to forget that we need to take time to relax and recharge.
Vacations are great, if you have the budget and enough time to get away. Usually, though, just a little self-care will do the trick, and there are lots of spas and salons here in Okinawa offering the perfect little getaway to relieve stress and rejuvenate.
Life Relaxation Salon in Sunabe is one shining example, providing a range of services, including body massage, facials, and even IPL permanent hair removal. There are differently priced beauty courses to accommodate different budgets and schedules, and like any good spa, they do consultations before starting to recommend services that best suit your needs and skin type.
We recommend trying one of Life’s Ryukyu facial packages, which last from 30 to 80 minutes, and adding on one of three masks (which take and extra 20 minutes or so), tailored to oily/acne prone, combination, or dry skin. The cold CO2 mask is their most popular and good for combo skin; it causes blood vessels to supply more oxygen to skin cells and boosts cell regeneration. The results? Tighter pores and noticeably smoother, softer skin. A heads up: things like the facial steamer (which made it a little difficult to breathe), the little suction device to clear pores, and plastic wrap placed over the eyes and mouth during the mask treatment may take a little getting used to, but the outcome, including the refreshed feeling afterward, is absolutely worth it.
By appointment only Hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
278 Sunabe, Chatan-Cho
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The final few breaths of the 2013 dive season are now upon us. Time to reflect on the great dives you had this year and continue enjoying the season as it progresses. Diving in the winter months as the ocean cools is still amazing. It’s time to invest in a thicker wetsuit or add a hooded vest to your summer suit and get back in the water. The winter season offers some of the best diving that Okinawa has and enjoying the cooler waters and unique sea life should be high on every diver’s list.
Our most unique dives will be coming up in January and February as they do every year. Starting the first of the year, humpback whales will be making their way into the waters surrounding Okinawa, and the schools of hammerhead sharks will be making their annual migration to Yonaguni island. Reef Encounters offers you the unique opportunity to swim with these gentle giants of the deep. The annual swim with whales tours will be starting in January and our first off island trip of the new year will be to dive with the hammerhead sharks and explore the ancient ruins of Yonaguni. Reservations and deposits for the Yonaguni trips are due soon so contact Reef Encounters now to ensure you have a seat on one of these once in a lifetime expeditions.
This is also a great time of year to increase your training level or even look at pursuing that professional level training that you have been thinking about. Reef Encounters will be offering specials on both Intro to Technical courses and all professional level courses to include Divemaster, Assistant Instructor and Instructor. Start your training now so you can be ready to teach your love of the ocean to new divers by the spring. Instructor training courses will be offered in February and March and contract instructors are needed for the upcoming season, so get your training started now.
Also our daily dives to the Kerama Islands and the surrounding dive sites of Okinawa continue year round so contact Reef Encounters for diving trips and boat dives to explore the underwater wonder of Okinawa.
Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 12:28 pm. Add a comment
If you happen to be up North in the Motobu or Nago area, you’ve got to check out Pizza in the Sky at least once. While the pizza and limited menu draw mixed reviews from the public, one thing cannot be denied: its hilltop location offers lovely views of the Okinawan landscape and East China Sea.
There’s a fair amount of tables both indoor and outdoor, but the place was so popular on the Saturday we went, that we did have to wait a good while on one of their benches overlooking the Okinawa vista. Once seated, our server presented us with the menus, which were paper fans listing a menu item in each fold—Japanese on one side, and English on the other.
People seem to be very opinionated about the pizza. The crust is slightly thick, with a little bit of chew to it, and there’s lots of gooey cheese on top, which we liked, but others didn’t care for, due to the flavor or the amount. A small, 7 inch pizza (¥1100) and a medium, 16 inch pizza (¥2100) are available. Toppings include pepperoni, bacon, onion, corn, and green pepper, and the price doesn’t change based on the number of toppings you order.
Aside from pizza, we enjoyed the house salad (¥500), a good sized bowl of lettuce, red onions, shredded carrot, cucumbers, and corn in a light, tangy vinaigrette. One bowl was enough for two or three people. Several freshly squeezed juices (¥400), including orange and guava, are also offered, and are quite refreshing, but seem a little steep in price for the half glass offered, so keep that in mind. For dessert, we all shared chunks of mango in a sweet syrup (¥500). Some of the chunks were still frozen in the middle, which were a little too chilly for when we went, but would be refreshing on a summer day.
Open from 12:00 – 19:00 (Last Order 18:30)
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
1153-2 Yamazato, Motobu-cho
Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 10:14 am. 1 comment
Do you enjoy shopping, like to keep up with the latest fashion trends, or just prefer to try on before you buy? We’ve got three shopping centers in Naha for you to check out and get your “retail therapy” fix.
Ashibanaa Outlet Mall, just off the airport expressway exit toward Senaga island, is an outdoor American-style shopping center with more than 70 internationally famous brands, like Michael Kors, Ocean Pacific, Levi Strauss, and Coach.
While some claim that the merchandise is discounted by 30% or more, you really have to look for bargains (Levi’s was expensive), and the best deals we found were at The Gap and some of the clearance sections in Adidas. Kids will love the displays and play area at the Sylvanian Families store. Go for a bit more selection and sizing than you’d find elsewhere on island. Hours: 10 am – 8 pm.
Map at http://tiny.cc/ashibinaa
If you’re leaving the country and have cash to burn (or just want to window shop), be sure to check out DFS Galleria on 330 in Naha. This upscale shopping plaza features designers like Armani, Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, plus a whole wing dedicated to fragrance and cosmetics like Mac and Kiehl. DFS’s boutiques have the latest trends in fashion, an amazing atmosphere, and even a bar and eatery.
You can only purchase there if you’re leaving the country soon, though. Bring your flight itinerary and passport and pay at the Galleria. Then on the day of your flight, take your receipt and pick up your loot at the DFS counter in Naha Airport’s international terminal after check in and security. Hours: 9am – 9pm
Map at http://tiny.cc/dfsokinawa
Just a block down from DFS Galleria is Naha Main Place, a more mid-level shopping center akin to San A, and open really late. In addition to shoes and clothing shops, there are stores for eyeglasses, Japanese beauty products, socks, kids clothes, fabric and craft supplies, luggage, plus a grocery store, French bakery, flower shop, and even a Sanrio store, for Hello Kitty lovers. Hours: 9:00 am to 12:00 am
Map at http://tiny.cc/mainplace
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Secure Pay offers the most diverse and flexible bill payment options for Americans living in Japan and local companies doing business with Americans or US businesses. Safe SECURE payments through allotment, online bank transfers, automatic checking account debiting, or credit card processing allows you to select the most convenient and secure payment processing meeting your needs.
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