"" Writer's Wanderings: From My Travel Journal - Okinawa, Japan

Friday, July 26, 2013

From My Travel Journal - Okinawa, Japan

Thursday, November 8, 2007—Okinawa, Japan

            At 6:30 a.m., we awake and get dressed so that we can get in line to have our temperatures evaluated before receiving a disembarkation card to enter Okinawa, Japan. The line stretches to the rear of the ship. At 7, we still have not docked so the Japanese authorities are not even aboard yet to begin the procedure. We opt to go for breakfast and return even though we will lose our place in line. Everyone will be behind schedule anyway and we figure the tour times will be adjusted.

            After breakfast, we return to our room and get our gear for the day and go back to the line which is now wound from one end of the ship to the other and over two decks. When we finally get to the “health” lounge, we see six Japanese officials standing in a group, each with masks across their mouths and noses. A camera-like contraption beams a red light at a spot in the room where we all must pass as it evaluates body temperature. Anyone with an elevated temperature will not be allowed ashore. As far as we know, no one is detained.

            We have a very short wait in the theater before being herded to buses on the dock for our tour. Our guide is Soda San (but she says, don’t call me Coca Cola). Her humor reminds me of Aya’s (my daughter-in-law) father, Yoshinori.

            Okinawa, or rather Naha City, is larger than I imagined. It reminds us of the Caribbean. All the shops are geared to flowered muumuus and Hawaiian style beachwear and coconut shells painted with faces. Apparently coral jewelry is big here.

            We visit the Shurijo Castle built back in the 16th-17th century. It has been rebuilt since WWII. If I understood the guide correctly, there were Chinese kings first and then Japanese. There was a bunker under the castle that housed Japanese military officials in WWII.

            A stop in to the large department store in Naha City is disappointing in that there are no “elevator girls.” These are the girls we saw in the Tokyo department stores that are dressed in cute uniforms and with a gloved hand and a special phrase in Japanese tell you if the elevator is going up or down. We wander into the area where the kimonos are displayed. I am amazed again at how expensive the material is for a full dress kimono.

            The market area we walk through has lots of stores with little packaged snacks and candies, none of which look familiar. Most of the places along the street are souvenir shops specializing in beach type paraphernalia.

            There is a monorail overhead but no time to ride. We begin to melt as the sun comes out. It must be in the 80s and very humid.

            At noon, we return to the ship. We are scheduled to depart at 3 p.m.

            I think about the differences I have observed between China and Japan. There is no frenzy here and though the castle was crowded with students, they were very polite and there was no elbowing. But then, I’m probably a little prejudiced having a Japanese daughter-in-law.

            In the afternoon, I do some ironing, some walking, some reading and win 50 cents at the slots. The evening show is “Do You Wanna Dance?” It is a lot better than the first production show we saw. They have replaced one singer and the group blends so much better. There seems to be a higher energy level with the group tonight as well. They look like they are having fun.

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