2011-02-23

Okinawa: GUEST HOUSE BASE OKINAWA, Shuri Castle, International Street

During our trip to Okinawa, we stayed at Guesthouse Base Okinawa.  Having no car, we didn't wander far from the Base, which is located in Naha.


At only 1000 yen a day, I'm not complaining. The dormitories are 4 beds to a room. There's internet and tons of books/manga for your reading pleasure. There's a common room and a computer that's free to use. Bikes are free to rent. The bathroom was pretty grody and my friend had one of the workers slip drunkenly into her dorm room one night (Just her luck, being bottom bunk. I think he tried to hold her hand and she sleepily let him before their shared confusion wore off enough that he left the room. Really people, doors have keys and locks for a reason) but aside from that, it was cool.

What is it near? Shuri Castle Park, Naminoue shrine, a big shopping street called Kokusai Doori, a park, the Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum (which we unfortunately did not visit) and the ocean. The ocean is interrupted by a big bridge and other construction, so don't expect crystal clear waters as far as the eye can see, but it is nice to have a beach, even if there isn't quite a seaside view.   

The first (and best) place that we ate can be seen below: Cafe Okinawa. There's artwork and pottery inside to look at and a guestbook to sign, and the food (I had red soba) was delicious. Honestly some of the best soba I've had.





The shrine is very close by and the nearby park is shaded with trees. It was a beautiful walk. 













There are tons of restaurants in the area, especially as you walk toward Kokusai-doori. We ate at a steakhouse there (one of those expensive ones, where they cook everything in front of you. My meal was over 2500 yen!) which was a fun experience, though nowhere near as good as the soba. It was fun to watch, though, and you get to interact with the chef.



Kokusai-doori has clubs, if you're into that kind of thing (I didn't head in so I can't vouch for anything), and it's also full of weird stuff to buy. I totally should have bought this Shiisa Mask Shirt. They have a good mix of things, not just the kitschy and commercial, so you can do a lot for your requisite omiyage shopping.
 


I don't know why but there are penises all over the place.
So many posing opportunities


You can see some performers like this one.
If you want to see a beach better than the one that's just next door to Base Okinawa, you'll have to take a bus to one. From what I could gather, some of the nearer beaches are owned by hotels and only for the use of its guests. We took a bus ride with a very, very nice driver who told us which beach was best and stopped on the way down to the shore so we could take a picture at what he thought was the premium picture-taking spot.












Last but not least, Shuri Castle. You can enter for free, but a tour of the inside of the building itself will cost you a bit (comparable to other castles in Japan). You don't have to pay to go inside to see something though, because the traditional Ryukyu dances are held out in the courtyard for all to enjoy.













The costumes and make-up for the dances were really beautiful. If I remember correctly, they gave a brief explanation of each dance in Japanese prior to the performance. 




video

 Although I wish we could have explored more of Okinawa, I enjoyed myself in the Naha area. 

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