March 26, 2019
Miyako-Jima is our first port in Japan. Here is the view as we were docking. The water is so blue and crystal clear and is known to be the most beautiful in Japan. This island is the fourth largest in Okinawa and is known for its beautiful clear ocean and untouched nature. It is not too common for tourists to visit here. We had some thoughts of snorkeling but it is still a bit too cold for that and we didn’t pack our wetsuits.
The bridge is the Irabu Ohashi Bridge which was constructed in 2015 and is Japan’s longest toll free bridge at 11,614 feet. It has several unusual dips as it stretches across the sea. It is said to be “Bridge of Dream” because it has been 40 years from the planning stage, cost 39.5 billion yen (359 million US dollars) and took 9 years to complete.
Before we could disembark the ship, we had to go up to Horizons lounge for Japanese immigration. We were instructed to wait until our deck was called, which for deck 8 should have been at 11. Being the obedient passengers we are, we waited and there were no announcements made except for the people who were on organized tours. So, at about 11:45, we decided to go to Horizons only to find that people from all decks had been going up for hours. We had to wind through a long line, our temperatures were scanned and we had to report to an immigration officer who scanned our passports, took our fingerprints and pictures, collected our immigration forms and only then could we get off the ship!
We took the shuttle bus to town with the intention of having lunch there and then doing some shopping. Well, there are only 60,000 people on the island and hardly anything was open. Even the public market was closed. And, really everything was in Japanese. We did get a map with some translations on it and I used Google translate, but it isn’t as easy as some places that at least have street signs in both English and local language.
We finally found a restaurant that was open, Nomura, where we had a lunch with both American and Japanese foods, and beer. We paid $19.49 for both lunches.
The next place we visited was a shop that has the special salt called “Yukishio”, “snow salt” that can only be found here. I bought 4 kinds.
After lunch and the shopping stop we hailed a cab and showed him the Google translated name for the Miyakojima Kaichukoen Underwater Park. If we weren’t going to snorkel, we wanted to visit this park. The cab driver took us there and said he would wait for us. We only hoped that we understood him correctly!
In the park, the cashier told us (in pretty acceptable English) that we wouldn’t see any big fish because it was too windy. But we would see the smaller ones. She wanted to know if we still wanted to go inside, and we did.
It was a pretty beautiful sight. You go down many steps to a chamber with 24 installed windows and you can observe many types of tropical fish. They have pictures of them on the walls to help with identification. I got some pictures but in many cases the fish were just too quick (or shy??) A nice way to spend the afternoon.
The area surrounding the park is also beautiful. And the weather was great. Long sleeves and jeans were a welcome wardrobe change after the hot weather we have had. All of Japan should be about this same temperature and China might even be chillier! And, yes, the cab driver waited for us.
Tomorrow we will be in Okinawa (Naha) Japan and will be doing an excursion with Becky and other passengers from the book club. She is fluent in Japanese so that will be very helpful.