While most of Okinawa seems like a giant tourist trap, there are several sights in Naha that are entirely free. (Also, Naha has neither a noteworthy beach nor snorkeling opportunities, making it much cheaper than everywhere else in the archipelago).
|Harro! Can I interest you in some pineapple chocolate? diving? no?|
Yesterday I went out to explore Naminoue Shrine, the most important Shinto shrine in Okinawa. Shintoism is an export from the Japanese mainland, and it seems, not a very popular one. The shrine was much smaller than I expected and I was the only visitor, apart from school class from Tokyo that kept shouting „Harro!“ at me incessantly.
A short minute away though, I found Fukushu-en (福州園), an impressive Chinese style garden that was built in 1992 to commemorate the ties Okinawa has had with China (before the Japanese annexed the islands, the Ryukyu had strong trade ties to the Ming dynasty).
What's special about this garden is that Japan and Chinese don't exactly have the best relationship (well, let's be honest... who except maybe North Korea has a good relationship with China?) - yes, there are Chinatowns in several Japanese cities, but the general image Chinese people have here is not good. The Japanese are very open to just about any other culture, but Chinese are at the most seen as people who run mediocre restaurants. Let's not even examine the historical and military relationship between the two countries.
Maybe that explains why there weren't any Japanese visitors, I'm not sure...Even though it wasn't raining for a change, I was one of the only visitors (apart from an American couple and, ironically, a tourist group from mainland China that trampled through the entire place within 3 minutes) and spent a relaxed afternoon... getting stung by mosquitoes. You can't have it all, I guess.