Okinawa

Universal Studios to open theme park in Okinawa, in case you get bored of the beaches

For folks in the Kanto area, theme parks tend to mean Tokyo Disneyland, and for people in the Kansai area, they mean Universal Studios Japan, or USJ for short. But what about Okinawan residents? We suppose they could just fly to Osaka or Tokyo if they get bored with their beautiful beaches and old-lady idol groups, but they don’t have much actually in the prefecture.

However, it looks like things are going to change for theme-park-ride-starved Okinawans: It was revealed today that USJ is planning to open a second park on the tropical island!

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Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84

Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!

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We examine the footage, decide Coming of Age Day in Okinawa is actually pretty badass【Video】

Japan’s Coming of Age Day, held in January to celebrate young people who have turned 20 in the last year, involves dressing up in fancy kimono to attend an official ceremony, followed by a trip to the shrine or (more likely) an afterparty.

Or, to put it another way, every 20-year-old in the country is invited to a party to celebrate the fact they’re old enough to drink alcohol. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that in recent years, each Coming of Age Day has brought with it a small number of arrests, as rowdy enjoyment spills over into reckless driving and alcohol-related incidents.

Okinawa in particular boasts some of the wildest Coming of Age celebrations in Japan. This year, filmmaker and Okinawa native Hisashi Hamamoto headed to some of the busiest spots to film the partygoers. Join us after the jump for kids blocking traffic, shaking champagne about and generally having a riot, Japan-style.

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Taco Rice: Yummy Tex-Mex cuisine, Okinawan style!

Hands up everyone who loves Japanese food. Now, hands up everyone who loves Tex-Mex. Okay, you can put both of your hands down now. If you’ve never had the pleasure of chowing down on a bowl of delicious “Taco Rice”, then you’re seriously missing out! This Okinawan dish is a staple of the islands, being both tasty and filling while at the same time satisfying many a US military serviceperson’s hankering for a taste of home. We recently picked up a “Taco Rice bento box” from one of the best Taco Rice establishments on Okinawa. Read on for our thoughts!

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Our Japanese reporter visits an American sushi restaurant in Japan

In this era of increasing globalization we see more and more cases of foods jumping across cultural boundaries and changing in the process. Japan is no different with foods like pizza topped with scallops, curry which tastes sweet as pudding, and ramen burgers.

And of course this culinary door swings both ways such as the United States’ take on sushi in creations like the California roll. However, now we are seeing an interesting twist in the migration of sushi with New Port Sushi located in Okinawa. Here American style sushi can be enjoyed in Japan. After our reporter Nakano was finished vomiting up his glass of root beer, we sent him in to check it out.

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Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki opposes relocation of military base in Okinawa

Locals, citizens, and politicians continue to clash regarding the proposed relocation of a U.S. military base to the Henoko (辺野古) district of Nago City, Okinawa. A recent movement to oppose the base sought to gain support from famous Japanese people, including (sort-of) retired Studio Ghibli Director, Hayao Miyazaki.

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【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

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】

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 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”!)

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

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】

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!

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

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

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

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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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


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】

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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