Okinawa World: A Taste of Culture in Okinawa, Japan

We’ve only been in Japan for a day, and we’ve already seen so much! We’ll share it ALL with you, I promise, it’ll just take a little time! My favorite thing from today’s experiences (outside of Hotel Hyakuna Garan, where I want to live full time!) was Okinawa World.

Okinawa World Theme Park

I typically like to stay away from tourist attractions when I travel because I much prefer to get a local view of the place. Before we got to Okinawa World, I was expecting it to be over-the-top touristy, but very quickly changed my mind! Okinawa World is a Theme Park, and is popular with tourists and visitors, but they do a great job at accommodating visitors while staying true to the rich, traditional Okinawan culture.

The most popular attraction is the Gyokusendo Cave. It’s a 300,000 year old cave that goes on for over 16,000 feet (5,000 meters). It was discovered in 1967 and has more than a million stalactites. It’s one of the biggest cave systems in all of Japan. I love caves, and it looks gorgeous! But we had limited time, and I was dying to see the Village…

Traditional Crafts Village

There’s nothing I love to see more than people with a passion! Think about it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in a particular topic or not, when someone loves something so much that they dedicate their lives to perfecting it, their passion is contagious.

In the Traditional Crafts Village at Okinawa World, you get to see real craftsmen at work in a typical environment. You can ask them questions, and in a most cases, you can participate in learning HOW to do what they do. Each building in the village is setup for different arts.

  • Pottery Studio: Watch a potter at work creating “yachimun”, then create and paint your own!
  • Paper Making Studio: You know how I love my paper and seeing how they make paper by hand was a treat!
  • Ryukyu Photography: Get dressed like a royal from the Ryukyu Kingdom and get your picture taken.
  • Weaving Studio: Every region has a different traditional weave. You can try it yourself and see what it takes to create.
  • Ryuku Glass Studio: I’ve seen glass blowers at work before (great art!), but I’ve never seen them allow you to sit down and blow and form your own cup. Pretty cool!

Plus more! I could have stayed in the Village all day long! As a visitor, you’d be hard pressed to be able to tour the local area and watch people at work. This is a great way to learn… not only about the hard work the people of Okinawa do on a daily basis, but also what their ancestors went through to keep their culture alive. You’ll certainly walk away with an appreciation for their traditions!

Oh! And this is Kai (I think that’s his name!), a breed of dog that’s native to Okinawa. I didn’t catch what kind of breed he is, so if you know, leave a comment!


Okinawan Food!

soki-soba-owkinawaThere’s a buffet at Okinawa World so you can sample all kinds of foods at once as well. I tried Soki Soba, a traditional soup with pork served on top. It’s their most famous food, and it was great! But it wasn’t the only thing. They had Swordfish Sushi that was marinated in soy sauce. And pork curry. Fried zucchini. And sugar cane rice. And fries. Which made John P. happy!

Probably the food that is most important to note here isn’t food at all. Habu Saki. It’s alcohol. Vodka infused with herbs and snake. Yep, that’s right… snake! They extract the snake’s poison, and they let the snakes sit in the vodka during the brewing process. Is it any good? Check out this video…

We also tried a Sugar Cane drink. Take a look at how it’s done… just like a juicer!

Photos From Okinawa World

Finally, here’s a gallery of photos from Okinawa World. And this isn’t even half of what you’ll see if you visit!

Do you know of other attractions on Okinawa? Let us know in the comments below!