Is it worth visiting the Okinawa islands in Japan?
Ill be travelling through Japan on my way through asia, and they look amazing...
Are they easy (and most importantly) not too expensive to travel to and around?
And are they worth it?
Cos Ill be doing a lot of island time later on in the trip (Indonesia, Philippines)
I know Japan will be the most expensive part of my trip, so im trying to keep cost down as much as poss
All help is much appreciated!
If you can afford it, Go for it...
I have seen videos of Okinawa. I thought it was sooo 1st world and yet sooo paradise.
I assume island hopping in Indonesia and the Philippines, you will meet touts, con artist, and did I say touts, pimps, and all those predators that haunt touristic islands. So it can be expensive as well, if you made the wrong choices. I wonder if Okinawa will have such creatures from the tourism industry.
Japan may be expensive, that is what everyone says. Tokyo was then the most expensive in the world, but I SHOP in Tokyo, after realizing that the clothes were so STYLISH, Great Quality and hell cheaper than the clothes I buy in Southeast Asia and China. So Japan may be expensive, but its worth it.
My wife and I spent 5 weeks in Japan September/October 2007.
Here is some Japan/Okinawa info I posted on TP a while ago.
Some of it might help.
I put Okinawa on our itinerary for a number of reasons (I'm a WW2 nut, we both love snorkelling and slowly boating and snorkelling back to the mainland through the islands of Yoron and Tokunoshima sounded ideal).
Okinawa has a very different feel to mainland Japan and we loved it. Very laid-back, holiday place for young Japanese and can be reasonably cheap if watching your budget. (I have photo of cheap Okinawa hostel on my profile somewhere!)
You don't mention when you are going to Japan so weather would probably influence your choice of destinations.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Himeji Castle and Mt. Fuji would have to be mandatory, but there are so many other
places to see and things to do (e.g. daytrip or o/n trip to Kamakura from Tokyo).
I bought the latest LP Japan book and checked out the highlights noted at the front of each geographical section and went from there.
A JR pass is really worthwhile if you are travelling extensively through the country.
If you want to see outlying parts of Japan pretty cheaply, check out http://gojapan.about.com/od/airtravel/a/japanairpass.htm (don't know how up-to-date it would be but travel agent should be able to find out).
It gives info on discount domestic airfares on JAL and ANA for overseas visitors to Japan, and it gets better if you are
flying into Japan on a 'oneworld' or 'star alliance' airline.
Well worth a look.
As JAL is a member of oneworld (we flew into Japan on alliance member QANTAS), my wife and I got one-way tickets to Naha (Okinawa) from Tokyo for about $105 Aussie dollars (10,000 Yen). I think the normal airfare would have
been about $400 AUD.
My wife and I did Tokyo-Okinawa-Miyazaki-Kagoshima-Oita/Beppu-Tokushima-Himeji (3 hour castle visit)-Kyoto-Takayama-Matsumoto-Mt. Fuji-Tokyo.
Our idea was to spend 3-4 days in Okinawa spending daytrips to Zamami and Tokashiki islands for R&R and lots of snorkelling (these islands were great!!!). Lost of WWII things to see on Okinawa if interested, along with Shuri Castle which had to be rebuilt totally after the war.
We actually managed to buy the 7 day ferry pass from Okinawa to Kagoshima but a bloody typhoon came storming over Okinawa, all ferries were cancelled and we were stuck in Naha for 3 extra days before having to flying
out to Miyazaki on ANA airline (that cost about $260 AUD each and it's only half way back to Toyko!!).
Miyazaki was a pretty cool place to stop for 2 days as we arrived in time for one of the major surfing competitions of 2007. Lovely little island of Aoshima with nice shrines beside the main Miyazai beach and the Jingu shrine is a 3 km walk from the main train station.
We then took the train from Miyazaki down to Kagoshima (I think it only cost about $25 AUD each) through the mountains and stayed there for 2 days. Ferried over to Sakurajima volcano, hired bikes and cycled around part of the volcano's base.
Wicked sculpture we came across (in my photos) and quite impressed by being that close to an active volcano.
Trained from Kagoshima to Oita (north coast Kyushu) via the caldera of Mt. Aso. Stayed in Oita rather than Beppu because our boat through the Inland Sea to Matsuyama (on Shikoku) left Oita pretty early in the morning.
Trained (using railpass) Matsuyama to Tokushima and stayed there for 3 nights. Spent one day at Naruto whirlpools and another in the Iya Valley (should have stayed overnight as only had about 4 hours to enjoy it). Really liked Tokushima.
Railpassed Tokushima to Himeji and stopped for about 4 hours for the castle and lunch. The castle is one of the major sights of Japan. Back on JR and off to Kyoto which was amazing. Did dinner in upstairs outdoors restaurant in Gion which wasn't cheap but what the hell. Next day did the LP walking tour of shrines/temples followed by the Gion walking tour at dusk and night. Next day was visiting Nijo-jo, the Golden Pavilion and the Silver Pavilion before leaving the next morning for Takayama in the Japanese Alps. Stayed 2 nights (nice town with old architecture and some nice temples) then bussed through Alps to Matsumoto for the medieval castle (almost rivals Himeji) and the Ukiyoe museum (great).
Railpassed down to Otski and private train to Kawaguchi-ko train station at base of Fuji. Had booked the Sunnide Hotel ($130 AUD double room) but it does cheaper for backpackers (about $80 AUD, I think).
Great views of Fuji and the lake. Climbed part of Fuji which was a life-long ambition of mine. Bussed down to the coast then railpassed back to Tokyo for our remaining 3 days.
Hope this makes some sense.
Enjoy to the MAX.
P.S. You will certainly get more bang for your buck in the Phillipine and Indonesian islands.
Lombok, Sumba, Sumbawa and Flores are incredibly cheap compared to Okinawa.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Mar-2010, at 07:39 by wotthefiqh ]
wow thanks for the info!
really helpful thanks