Okinawa trip

Hello dear readers, how are you? Did you have a nice weekend?
Here in the south of England the weather has been very nice, warm and sunny and very summery! I went shopping in Brighton on Saturday and had a drive in the country on Sunday. My friends in Tokyo tell me it was 33 degrees yesterday. I guess I came home at just the right time. I hope it will cool down a bit there by the time I return! Take care in the heat, everyone.
Just before I left Japan, I had a very short trip to Okinawa. It was a work-related trip, but as we arrived the afternoon before the shooting I had a little free time. I decided to go for a walk and see what I could find. I was staying in Naha, the capital.
I had never been to Okinawa before so I was really excited. I had heard that the culture is very different from mainland Japan so I was curious to see how it would compare to Tokyo. I was also excited to see shiisaa!
They are statues representing guardian creatures that look something like a cross between lions and dogs. They usually come in pairs and are very similar to the lion statues you see elsewhere in Asia.

I was able to see lots and lots of them even in the small area around my hotel. There were big ones, small ones, scary ones and cute ones.
Does this one count as scary or cute?
He or she was guarding the souvenir shopping street.
The shops were full of shiisaa and goya (bitter gourd) related souvenirs. Piggy souvenirs were also popular! They eat a lot of pork in Okinawa. Poor little piggies!
This lipstick-wearing shiisaa was pretty fabulous.

There were also loads of One Piece souvenirs! I was tempted by a phonestrap of Zoro riding a shiisaa and brandishing a goya but it was almost 600yen so I didn’t bother. 

I saw some other creatures too- cats! This one was so small and pretty but she was a bit timid.

There was also a big giant one of the roof of one of the souvenir shops! 

Of course I wanted to try some Okinawan food. I spotted this spam and egg onigiri in the airport:

It was… kind of bad. Another feature of Okinawan cuisine is sweet potatoes, and the hotel brochure recommended Beniimo Tarts as a souvenir. Here is a giant one outside the shop:

I bought some to take home, and they were really good! 
The colour is so pretty and they are not overly sweet.
I had dinner at a nearby restaurant and it was very nice. The starter was sea grapes:

I guess it looks a bit strange but it was nice! For the main dish I had goya chanpuru, which is one of the best-known Okinawan specialities.
It’s pork and egg and goya. The taste of the pork went well with the bitterness of the goya, but maybe the goya was a bit overpowering. It’s supposed to be really good for your skin so I ate all of it anyway.
I enjoyed the little time that I spent in Okinawa, and I hope I’ll be able to go back there again for a longer time. I have heard of some amazing castle ruins, museums and beaches which I would like to visit, and I want to try some more foods!
Have you ever been to Okinawa? Do you have any experiences or recommendations to share? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading and see you next time,
Sapphira
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