Lost in Translation

Well, I made it to Okinawa.

The flight was only about an hour long. The real difficulty was when I got on the ground. There were no working ATM machines that took foreign cards in the international terminal, and only one in the domestic terminal. There were no places available to change currency. Very little was written in English and my cab driver didn’t speak a word.

Nonetheless, I made it. Things always seem to work out.

Initial observations:

  • It’s true. Lots of vending machines. I took a walk out around my hostel and managed to see seven without turning my head at one point.
  • It is certainly more expensive here. I had prepared myself for worse, so I can deal with it. I’ll cut back a bit on my food.
  • I got a map of Japan with all the youth hostels in the country laid out. My rail is paid for 21 days, so it shouldn’t be too bad as far as expenses go. I’m sure Tokyo will suck, but that’s Tokyo.
  • I really really hate getting into to places after sunset. You can never see anything. I try whenever possible to arrive when I can see the city I’m arriving at.
  • I’m going to finally have to buy a phrase book I think. The US controlled Okinawa from the end of WWII to the early 1970s. We still have military bases here. I figured that you’d see more English here than anywhere else in Japan. There is next to nothing here. Thankfully, Japanese isn’t a tonal language.

I should also note the reason why I have Okinawa separate from Japan on my list of places on the left. 1) I’ve arbitrarily taken the Century Traveler Club’s list of places as the list I’d use to organize my website. They list Okinawa separate. 2) Okinawa is to Japan what Hawaii is to the US. It is a part of Japan, but it is geographically, culturally, linguistically, and historically different from the rest of the country. It wasn’t made part of Japan proper till the late 19th century.

Tomorrow I’m off to see the castle and some of the other sites from the Ryukyu Kingdom.

2 thoughts on “Lost in Translation”

  1. I was in Japan for the whole of September, last month. I was in the Kansai region and Tokyo. I don’t know if I can be of any help since I think you already have everything planned. In general, I recommend Kyoto to be your base in Kansai. From there you can take daily excursions to places like Himeji, Osaka, Nara, Kobe and others of interest in that area. If you will be visiting cities that are usually tourist attractions, language will not be a barrier. Almost every city I went to had tourist information centers where they spoke English and were very helpful. You won’t find them in the more remote areas but I found that the Japanese are very helpful and I got by with the few words I know. A phrasebook will come handy.

  2. I have only visited Europe, Australia, and NZ so I can’t offer you much in the way of advice for places to see. We are considering our next overseas vacation to be the Philippines, but only time will tell. Thanks for allowing me to continue to read. I really enjoy your travels.

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