Jan 16, 2019
This year, I spent New Year's in Okinawa with my girlfriend and her family. It is rare that I get to do the countdown with a family here, so when the invitation came, I was more than happy to go. Given the season, the flights were crowded and we looked around for tickets. In the end, we decided on flying with Japan Airlines for several reasons, the main reason being that I have always had a great experience using JAL, and I wanted to make sure that the flying experience would be as comfortable as the time at the destination.
We booked our tickets online from the JAL website. Unlike many cheap airlines' sites, the prices are very clear and straightforward on the JAL booking site. There were no crazy limitations and extra charges on every little thing (check-in luggage, choosing a good seat, choosing any seat at all, food on the plane, drinks on the plane…). Sure, some may say that they prefer the latter for the cheap price, but I undoubtedly had a much better and happier time booking the flight and eventually being on the flight thanks to that.
I flew from Nagoya to Okinawa and the flight took about 2.5 hours. It's not long, and the time flew by. Before I realized it, I had arrived. While being on the plane, despite it being the small plane, I appreciated the leg room I was able to use. The flight attendants were as friendly as always. They welcomed everyone warmly every moment they interacted with us, and I really like how professional they were, even during the extremely dull (yet important) safety procedure demonstration that most people rather ignore. I also felt that there was no problem using English at all, which is something I cannot say when flying with the more budget airlines on domestic flights.
Thanks to the comfortable flight, I had a great time in Okinawa. Okinawa was muuuchhh warmer than Honshu, so while people visit Hokkaido during the summer to avoid the heat, I would definitely recommend the same for Okinawa during winter to get out of the freezing weather.
The food was also great. Having a bowl of soki soba around winter is absolutely fantastic. I had about 4 bowls throughout the trip, and while I liked one of them much more than others, every single bowl was satisfying. I feel like I am slowly learning the spirit of soki soba as well. As a huge fan of ramen and noodles in general, this is one that I cannot enjoy on the main islands of Japan but always look forward to coming to Okinawa for.
Another highlight of my trip was visiting Shuri Castle, which was a monorail ride away from my girlfriend's family's house. The castle was great, especially in the sense that it was different from every other castle in Japan. It is an offspring of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles, and it had this warm, welcoming feeling of a small kingdom that was the Ryukyu Kingdom. During New Year's they also had free traditional Ryukyu performances, so I was able to watch some people perform the traditional Ryukyu lion dance.
With that said, I would also highly recommend you to go back to the castle for another visit at night. The castle is closed at night, but the walk around the park surrounding the castle was both peaceful and refreshing. The castle itself, lit up at night, was also magnificent making it a perfect date spot or a great place for a night photo shoot.
The trip only lasted for less than a week, but it was without a doubt one of my best New Year's experiences in Japan. From booking the flight to landing back in Aichi, it was a lovely trip that I will remember for years to come.
This post is supported by Japan Airlines (JAL), one of City-Cost's Supporters helping City-Cost bloggers to enjoy life in Japan and engage in new experiences.