Okinawa

【TBT】The five Japanese streets that people of Japan most want to visit

【TBT】The five Japanese streets that people of Japan most want to visit

If you’ve ever longed to go back to an old Japan, where samurai stayed at old ramshackle inns and merchants filled the air with the scent of food, then some of these traditional streets will be right up your alley. We take you to five of Japan’s most-loved streets, from well-worn paths in secluded valleys to bustling pilgrimage routes in scenic villages, all with an amazing history and atmosphere. Let’s take a stroll together and see what they have to offer.

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Sparkles! Hearts!! Personal loans? Okinawan bank’s approach to advertising is a little different

Sparkles! Hearts!! Personal loans? Okinawan bank’s approach to advertising is a little different

With the greater acceptance among adults that animation has in Japan, it’s not unusual to see anime characters pop up in advertisements and other endorsements. Usually, though, there’s at least some sort of connection linking the message and the characters, though, either in tone, back story, or demographic appeal.

For instance, convenience stores get a lot of young customers who’d rather be spending their time watching anime than cooking, so a tie-up with Attack on Titan makes sense. Likewise, hanging in my local train station is a public safety poster from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police asking citizens to be on the lookout and report crimes, which also feature the giant law enforcement robot from Patlabor.

So the fact that two anime-style magical girls have been created for a series of TV ads isn’t so surprising. What is weird, though, is the product they’re pushing: bank loans.

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How many have you seen? 18 must-visit sites in Japan 【World Heritage】

How many have you seen? 18 must-visit sites in Japan 【World Heritage】

Visiting World Heritage Sites is a great way to see Japan. Since the sites are scattered all around the archipelago, you’re bound to be close to at least one of them no matter where you are in the country, and having gained the prestigious status by UNESCO, you can be sure you’re seeing the very best of Japan. After all, World Heritage status is not easily obtained and competition is stiff.

Join our peripatetic reporter as she takes you to each site and gives you the lowdown on what to see, how to avoid the crowds, and how to enjoy the sites on your own terms. Ready? Let’s go!

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Nago mayor says US bases “a legacy of misery” in Okinawa

Nago mayor says US bases “a legacy of misery” in Okinawa

Nago is located in northern Okinawa, a tourist town with beautiful beaches and a pineapple park. Its waters are home to gorgeous coral and seagrass beds that serve as the feeding grounds to Japan’s last remaining population of dugong, an endangered sea mammal related to the manatee. Nago is also the site of the proposed relocation of Futenma airbase, the US Marine complex that is at the core of a controversy between the Okinawan, Japanese, and US governments.

The mayor of Nago, Susumu Inamine, was in New York last weekend to deliver speeches and have informative discussions regarding the issue.

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Enjoy the ambiance of Okinawa’s aptly named Cave Cafe (plus “chest hair of the ancients”!)

Enjoy the ambiance of Okinawa’s aptly named Cave Cafe (plus “chest hair of the ancients”!)

The folks at popular Japanese travel site Another Tokyo have given us the itch to go traveling again. We’ve gotten used to drooling over their cool photos of off the beaten track places around Tokyo, but this time they’ve branched out a bit — all the way to tropical, sunny Okinawa!

Although we have to give the Tokyo area credit for its share of unconventional cafes, you’ll be blown away by the photos from this “Cave Cafe” in Okinawa, which is located inside – you guessed it – an actual cave! If you’re traveling to Okinawa soon and looking to do something a bit extraordinary, be sure to add this spot to your sightseeing list. After all, how many people can claim to have sipped coffee in a cave?

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Okinawa restaurant’s amazing shaved ice belongs in a (sufficiently air-conditioned) museum

Okinawa restaurant’s amazing shaved ice belongs in a (sufficiently air-conditioned) museum

Of all the art-you-can-eat creations that seem to be trending in Japan these days, most use easily manipulated and relatively sturdy substances such as rice and grated daikon radish, plus obvious stuff like cake and marzipan. So if these trendy edible canvases rank an eight or a nine on a 1-to-10 food art skill rating, we’d have to wager that ice-based food art is cranking it up to 11. And with ice melting in a matter of minutes, you’d think somebody would have to be crazy to try and make an edible sculpture out of it.

We can picture it now: The poor, young shaved ice art prodigy ridiculed and shunned by the food art community, forced to take his craft to far-off Okinawa and a decrepit-looking shop on an unassuming corner to carry out his trade in relative anonymity.

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Multiple witness reports of mysterious lights over Okinawa 【Video】

Multiple witness reports of mysterious lights over Okinawa 【Video】

At approximately 9:00pm on 23 January, reports started coming into the Okinawa Times about a strange array of lights over their capital city Naha. Japan’s Self Defense Force and astronomical experts are without answer, yet witness accounts and videos claim a dozen or so bright orange lights appearing to hang and shift around in the sky could be see in the area.

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Fly in a pink whale shark to Okinawa!

Fly in a pink whale shark to Okinawa!

The Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa is renown for its massive whale sharks. Now tourists can enjoy riding inside a whale shark on their way to seeing a whale shark thanks to the decorated JAL planes. What’s more, the company has just announced the addition of a pink plane featuring the huge fish. Let’s take a closer look!

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Serving an Okinawan bitter melon and spam dish to New Yorkers

Serving an Okinawan bitter melon and spam dish to New Yorkers

Goya champuru, unlike its name, is extremely simple. The dish consists of only a few main ingredients: goya (bitter melon), tofu, egg and spam. It’s a homey comfort food from Okinawa, Japan that highlights the island prefecture’s long history with the United States. Susan Hamaker, writer and editor over at JapanCulture•NYC, an online resource for “all things Japanese in New York City,” let us know about a wonderful booth they ran at Japan Block Fair showcasing this down home dish. Let’s take a look!

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【Cool find!】Special edition Coca Cola made with Okinawan water

【Cool find!】Special edition Coca Cola made with Okinawan water

Our reporter was strolling through Ginza one afternoon and found herself in an Okinawa specialty goods store. As she was browsing through the aisles, she couldn’t help but notice a brightly colored can of Coca Cola with a red shisa (lion dog) printed on the front. Upon further inspection of the can, she realized that she had stumbled upon Okinawa Coca Cola, made with the waters of Okinawa. How would this special Coke taste? She just had to buy one and find out.

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The Five Japanese Streets That People of Japan Most Want to Visit

The Five Japanese Streets That People of Japan Most Want to Visit

If you’ve ever longed to go back to an old Japan, where samurai stayed at old ramshackle inns and merchants filled the air with the scent of food, then some of these traditional streets will be right up your alley. We take you to five of Japan’s most-loved streets, from well-worn paths in secluded valleys to bustling pilgrimage routes in scenic villages, all with an amazing history and atmosphere. Let’s take a stroll together and see what they have to offer.

Read More

Okinawa Man in Bizarre Death, Power Tool and Fishing Equipment Found Nearby

Okinawa Man in Bizarre Death, Power Tool and Fishing Equipment Found Nearby

It’s time to put on your detective pants and try to figure out what happened in this strange death of a man in his 70s in Okinawa. Details are sketchy but police are leaning towards an accidental death.

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Okinawa Prefecture Cancels Plan to Use Young Women’s Thighs as Advertising Space

Okinawa Prefecture Cancels Plan to Use Young Women’s Thighs as Advertising Space


The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) along with the prefectural government have cancelled their plans to use space on women’s bare thighs for marketing the islands as a graduation trip destination to students outside the prefecture. Citing criticism, the two bodies stated January 24, “Placing temporary tattoo-like stickers on the thighs of young women to advertise Okinawa is not in line with prefecture’s brand image.”
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Megaphones! Mullets! Mayhem! Japan’s Future Leaders Hit the Streets 【Video】

Megaphones! Mullets! Mayhem! Japan’s Future Leaders Hit the Streets 【Video】

Coming of Age Day is a public holiday held in Japan in the first week of January each year. The holiday has existed since the late 1940s, and, with most of the country given the day off work, those who have recently turned 20 are encouraged to celebrate their entry into adulthood by wearing traditional clothes and throwing parties with their friends and family, perhaps even paying a visit to a temple. Proud parents look on as their once rosy-cheeked cherubs stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as mature men and women, ready to join the workforce and steer the country towards greatness.

This year’s crop of adults on the island of Okinawa, however, have become cause for concern in the Japanese media this week as a number of seijin-shiki (coming of age ceremony) parties got just a little too rowdy. What is normally a day of dignity and teary-eyed parents looked more like a public demonstration or protest as Japan’s newest adults filled the streets of Naha city, prompting lines of police and camera crews to show up.

The full video of the mayhem and despairing cries of “what is this country coming to!?” after the break.

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This Starbucks T-shirt Will Ward Off Bad Spirits

On a recent trip to Naha, Okinawa, our correspondent spotted a Starbucks t-shirt which, at first glance, looked like a factory reject, but turned out to be a clever tip of the hat to traditional Okinawan culture.

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American Soldier Suspected of Trespassing and Assaulting Okinawan Middle School Student After Curfew

American Soldier Suspected of Trespassing and Assaulting Okinawan Middle School Student After Curfew

Since 16 October a curfew has been in place on all US soldiers stationed in Japan restricting them from leaving their bases from 11pm to 5am.  This was in response to an incident where two soldiers allegedly raped a young Japanese woman in Okinawa.

However, on 2 November what appeared to have been a drunk American soldier trespassed into a room and struck a young boy.  The police investigation is ongoing.

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Half-naked Japanese Firefighters Pose for Charity, Okinawa Firefighters Calendar 2013 On Sale Now!

Half-naked Japanese Firefighters Pose for Charity, Okinawa Firefighters Calendar 2013 On Sale Now!

New York firefighters have been stripping down naked from the waist up for the past 17 years in their famous calendars.  For years, Japan has been deprived of their own version of the 12 pages of steamy muscles, but not any longer!

The macho fire fighting men of Okinawa let it all hang out in the 2013 edition of the Okinawa Firefighters Calendar with all proceeds going to a great cause.

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Japanese Protesters Attack U.S. Military Aircraft with Kites

Japanese Protesters Attack U.S. Military Aircraft with Kites

It’s easy to understand why residents of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa would be upset with the deployment of twelve new Osprey hybrid aircraft to the Futenma U.S. military base.

While the U.S. assures the Japanese government that the aircraft are safe, an accident in Morocco that killed two U.S. Marines in April and then another in Florida in June make them a hard sell for Okinawans, especially since the Futenma base is surrounded by crowded residential areas.

So it wasn’t surprising when hundreds of protesters raised banners and chanted outside Futenma on Monday to show their concern over the safety of the aircraft, the first six of which arrived at the base that morning.

It was surprising, however, when, the next day, two groups of Okinawans gathered at a park near Futenma to protest the arrival of three new Osprey by flying kites near the aircraft as they attempted to land.

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High Ranking Chinese Officer Demands “Japan Should Leave Okinawa”

High Ranking Chinese Officer Demands “Japan Should Leave Okinawa”

According to South Korea’s Far East Daily newspaper, China’s public radio broadcast an interview with a currently active Major General who spoke like many Generals do, with much aplomb and sabre rattling to be heard. Let’s see what he has to say.

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TripAdvisor Ranks Top 20 Japanese Travel Destinations For Foreign Visitors, Hiroshima Edges Kyoto For Top Spot

TripAdvisor Ranks Top 20 Japanese Travel Destinations For Foreign Visitors, Hiroshima Edges Kyoto For Top Spot

The Japanese arm of tourism website TripAdvisor gathered user comments and evaluations from the past year and used them to rank the Top 20 travel destinations in Japan over that time. Hiroshima Prefecture maintained its popularity with two destinations in the Top 5 while five Kyoto sightseeing spots made the list.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and A-Bomb Dome moved to the top of the list after coming in second last year. Read More

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