The Lost Blogs #24
Travel Dates: Sat, April 28, 2012 – Thu, May 3, 2012
I can’t believe that I actually skipped over writing about my vacation to Okinawa last year! My travel goals for Japan were to set foot on the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu), plus the Okinawa Islands. Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture of Japan and is sometimes referred to as the “Hawaii of Japan”.
Like Hawaii to the U.S., Okinawa is very different in history, culture, and ethnic population than the rest of mainland Japan. It is also significantly farther away; Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, is about 950 miles from Tokyo, but only about 400 miles away from Taiwan! But I won’t go too much into the differences here, but if you’re interested to learn more, you can start reading about it on Wikipedia.
I flew to Naha, Okinawa from Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka. It’s usually ridiculously expensive to travel during Golden Week, but fortunately I was able to book early with discount airlines SKYMARK, who I highly recommend. Flights during Golden Week are usually double, or sometimes even triple, the normal rates because of the string of consecutive holidays. However, with Skymark Airlines, you can book flights up to two months in advance, so if you plan ahead, you can get flights at reasonable rates before the deals are gone!
We weren’t fast enough to book our flights going to Okinawa in time to get a good deal, so we paid 32,800 yen for two people (16,400 yen per person, or approx. $183 USD). But for our return flights to Osaka, we paid a total of 13,800 yen for two people (6,900 yen per person, or approx. $77 USD). Additionally, we also booked flights for a day-trip between Naha and the Miyako Islands, which cost 8,600 yen per person for roundtrip flights. That works out to 4,300 yen per flight, or approx. $48 USD. (In case you were wondering, ferry service between Naha and Miyako has been discontinued since 2008.)
So in short, we booked four flights during Golden Week for a total of 31,900 yen per person ($357 USD). We checked the flight prices with other airlines, and some were charging roughly 30,000 yen for a single flight! Talk about savings…
It was my first time to fly in & out of KIX Airport. What I liked is that it wasn’t busy! Even during Golden Week, the lines were short, and there were no crowds of people so it was really easy to navigate. Also, KIX has lots of shops & restaurants.They have both Starbucks and Tully’s Coffee. And, if you aren’t heading to Okinawa, you can still get a taste of Okinawa at the airport by taking a visit to Blue Seal Ice Cream! Blue Seal is an ice cream shop that was “Born in America and Raised in Okinawa”. They offer a variety of flavors, from American classics like Vanilla, Chocolate, and Mint Chocolate Chip to Okinawan flavors like Okinawan Salt Cookies (Chinsuko) and, to my surprise, their most popular flavor Ube (purple yam), which is a Filipino flavor!
But I’ll tell you more about Blue Seal next time. We spent six days in Okinawa, and it was para– para– paradise! Check back next time for Golden Week in Okinawa pt. 2!