Okinawa #4

When Okinawa became Japanese in full again, in 1974, it was the economic boom, airlines were growing fast, so as mentioned in a previous post, ANA and JAL picked up great locations and built up hotels on the island, launching the boom of domestic tourism to the islands.

I stayed at the ANA InterContinental on Manza Beach, wonderful location, 31 ha of activities, gardens, swimming pools, a private beach, boats, sailing, it is a unique resort.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okinawa #3

Okinawa has a special history, it is the last addition to Japan becoming part of the country only in 1872 after being name Ryuku kingdom for centuries.

From 1945 to 1974, it was American, until 1965 and then a base for the Vietnam war until 1974, today, still 26000 Americans work in the bases of Okinawa, some of them are in fact in the city center of Naha, which creates odd situations and some challenges and problems.

one thing that I picked up is that the cars have a Y on their number plate if driven by Americans and, in case of accident, there must be both Japan and American police taking care of the paper work

 

IMG_1322

ANA – great airline

In Japan, as many other things, airlines work differently from the rest of the world, LCC have not invaded the market just yet simply because ANA and JAL dominate the market.

In the past, they even agreed on sharing some airports, for example Yonago is ANA airport while Tottori is JAL airport only. At the beginning of the air travel, these airlines spotted nice locations in every destination and build their own hotels to accomodate the travellers at their destination. Hence, in Japan, you find still a lot of ANA hotels and Nikko, JAL Hotels. along the years, they have sold some of them but the domination remains. they also sell packages, have brochures etc. with the economic downturn, JAL suffered and went into administration for the last 10 years, however, they went out of danger this 2017 and started to expand again opening new routes etc.

Now LCC start expanding from Korea, Thailand etc. but ANA has also it own airline, you can now fly Peach or Vanilla when you are in Japan

Both airline, despite of their domination, still maintain a very good level of service and I typically fly ANA and love it.

Flying domestic is easy, you turn up at Haneda, 30mn before your flight and you are good, I never do this as I still have the European stress on long queues, strikes, etc but here, all is organised and smooth and flights are always on time (unless typhoon, snowstorm, real reasons…)

Flying international, if from Narita, takes more time since the airport is far away (90mn by bus, 1h15 by train) but equally well organised

I flew ANA in December on long haul and the service was impeccable, great food, they offer broth, what a great idea, they serve ice cream after the meal in economy, the cabin attendants go round during the whole flight offering tea, coffee, water, blankets, etc. I can only recommend them

Okinawa – #2

One thing that is very visible in the island is the number of school trips from all around the country. Okinawa has a great image for the climate, the ocean, the nature and most of the highschool trips consider Okinawa

And again, I am so impressed by the discipline, the organisation. All students stand in line. all is cool.

At the airport, they simply sit in groups quietly on the floor waiting for their flight. Best practice we could use in Europe where we always end up with a noisy messy group

 

Tokyo lights

One thing to note is that all fairs are an opportunity in Japan. Mother’s day, baseball, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, you name it, anything works!

IN december, near Yoyogi park, adjoining the NHK buildings, there was this amazing blue alley, every day at 17h00, it would switch on along the 750m that lead up to Shibuya.

They used to have this in Meguro but moved it there 3 years ago. it is a fairy tale when all lightens, I was very impressed. If you are in town in December, dont miss out, it is worth the moment, try to be there at 16h50 to see the launch any evening of the week. You may also enjoy it in 6 others cities across the country – Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Osaka and Fukuoka.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okinawa – #1

Okinawa is the south part of Japan, it is actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, 45mn flight to Taipei, 2h30 to Tokyo!!

IMG_1271

ANA has a large share of the flights to Okinawa, followed by JAL. there are a few low cost carriers as well from Tokyo mostly. Of course, you may connect from anywhere in Japan to Okinawa but also from Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul etc. into Naha, the main city in the main island, Okinawa Island.

Okinawa is over 100 islands but not only have people living on them.

There is a strong and unique history as the island once was a kingdom and is the last addition to Japan, in the recent history, the island was taken over by the Kagoshima people and then became Japanese. However, in 1945, the US took control of the region and the land was only given back to Japan in 1974, which implies that infrastructures did not grow at the same pace as the rest of the country and so, with the 1st oil crisis in 1973, the timing was not great and you can definitely feel that Okinawa did not benefit from the same economic boom as the rest of the country.

Okinawa is also the island with the highest demographic growth, the lowest average income, the highest level of poverty and social challenges.

The islands mostly live from agriculture and tourism. Tourism expanded as of 1974. JAL and ANA launched flights, Japanese people wanted to explore and visit the natural beauty of Okinawa once the region was given back. Both airlines therefore built hotels to accomodate the travellers.

Nowadays, there is a new wave of expansion, with many hotel extensions, new hotels, luxury properties in Ishigaki due to the boom of inbound tourism and senior travellers growing at fast pace in Japan.

 

IMG_1294IMG_1295

I could only stay 2.5 days for work purposes but was overwhelmed by the many histories and differences with Japan. I learnt a lot in this little time and will investigate further

to be continued…