More Ryukyu Glass and the Cats of Itoman

I spent some more time in the Ryukyu glass village, the idea being to get something nicer for my cocktail endeavors than the standard glasses I used so far. The martini glass was the biggest challenge since it is not among the Ryukyu glass standard but I think I found a nice solution with this one. They have some very fine stuff in the Ryukyu glass village! It’s a formidable place and I hope it stays in business during these rough times when there are so much fewer tourists than in the past.

On my last day I rode my bicycle to my favorite beach of Kita-Nashiro and along some more coastline, then went to sell the bicycle. I had hoped for 4000 yen for it, since it was used only for ten days after all, but they gave me only 3000 yen for it. I am not the negotiating type and left it at that. Had I rented a bicycle I would have paid around a thousand yen a day so that’s what I paid for the new bicycle also. The investment was completely worth it and I wouldn’t have had the holidays I enjoyed without it.

There is one story left to tell and that’s about the feral cats of Itoman. The Minamihama park at the sea, which was a few hundred meters down the road from my hotel, was crawling with feral cats. Some of them looked quite well and healthy, but around half of them had chipped ears, presumably from fighting with each other. Some run away when you come too close, but some, especially this one was very people friendly and allowed you to pet her.

Several people were distributing cat food, but I wonder if they do it regularly and if it’s enough for all the cats around. I would have liked to take one of the cats with me. It makes me sad that they are not having homes. I counted some twenty cats, but I’m sure there were even more. Well, at least some people are feeding them from time to time and play with them.


All in all Itoman is a hot candidate for my retirement plans 🙂 It’s close enough to some nature and also close enough to civilization. I’m far from done exploring though! Apart from remote islands, I also want to explore more of Okinawa’s main island’s middle and north. So until next time, which I hope will be for Golden Week 2021? Let’s see what corona will say… stay healthy, folks

Traveling in Strange Times

Originally I had wanted to spend Japan’s Golden Week in early May 2020 in Okinawa. State of emergency made me stay home and cancel everything way in advance. In summer I wanted to make the next try but canceled everything 36 hours before departure, as Okinawa declared a stand alone prefectural state of emergency in our second corona wave. Then I waited anxiously for the end of the year and whether the third attempt to get to Okinawa would be successful. It didn’t look good, since we got into the third wave and the new infections per day were higher than ever.
I booked a hotel a week in advance and a flight 48 hours before departure. I debated extensively with myself and others whether it was okay to fly to Okinawa or not. There were no official domestic travel restrictions in Japan at that moment. I booked an apartment with kitchen, so if I go to a supermarket in Yokohama or the city of Itoman it makes no difference. If I ride around with a bicycle in Yokohama or Okinawa, it makes no difference. I didn’t plan on going to any party or even a restaurant in the evening.
So in the end I headed for Haneda airport after all and it was actually pretty crowded. Also the flight was 80 % full. Wow! I was lucky and there was no one next to me, but there were many rows without a free seat… masks were of course mandatory. The flight to Okinawa takes around three hours, since it’s against the jet stream, back it’s only two hours. They break out no food on these flights, but only some soft drinks. Hardly anyone was eating anything so as to not have to take the mask down in contrast to previous flights were people broke out their bento boxes as soon as it was allowed.
I took a taxi from the airport, because my target, the city of Itoman is only 10 km south of it. I was even prepared for something like, we don’t take passengers who arrived from Tokyo, but luckily there was no such thing. My taxi driver was about 80 years old and basically just happy that I could speak Japanese, lol. He didn’t ask where I come from today, or which country either. He only told me proudly about a highway they started to build south (so far there is only a highway to the north) and that some military area has been taken over by the Japanese navy instead of the Americans, those are now only up north. The driver didn’t mention corona in any form. 

While there are a few apartment hotels around in Itoman, it’s basically a “normal” town. Checking around in the internet revealed no bicycle rental anywhere. I only found a bicycle shop on the internet about 2km away and walked there first thing in the morning. As I already expected the bicycle shop only sold but did not rent out bicycles. But then again, if I rent a bicycle for a 1000 yen for ten days it’ll be 10,000 yen. The cheapest bicycle that they had was 13,000 yen. I asked them if they would take it back on the 4th of January if I bought it now, the answer was no, but they also told me about a recycle shop around the corner. So I went there and asked if they’d buy it off of me and they said yes and thus I bought the thing.


I promptly rode to the Ryukyu glass village, which was one of my targets and it was only three km away from my hotel. They have a fantastic shop with works of art and of course also usable glassware. They also offer a make-your-own-glass experience. Usually they let you do more process steps by yourself, but due to corona they cannot let people blow glass anymore. They blow it for you and you only do one step of finishing it up yourself.
I also checked out the beach 500 meters down the road and enjoyed a fantastic sunset. All that would not have been possible without some means of transportation = my lovely new bicycle!

Ryukyu Glass Village main building.

My personal glass in its infancy
My personal glass is growing
My personal glass getting blown into form. After the blowing is done, I got to “widen” the glass by myself in one process step.
My personal glass in its finished form 🙂

The Trouble with Sports

Sports and I, that’s like oil and water – it doesn’t mix! 😉
I’ve “hated” sports all my life. I hated school sports from the bottom of my heart and used every excuse I could find not to go. My parents “forced” me to do some sports, at first I did gymnastics, terrible. Then I did basketball for a while, next I did fencing for a few years. While fencing was kinda interesting, what a hustle with all that equipment. My dad dragged me ice skating on weekends for some time. During some summer camp I did tennis for a few weeks.
Nothing ever “hooked” me, nothing. I always cursed the time wasted with sports, during which I could have read a book, or written a story, or watched a movie. Then I left home and went to university and felt the obligation to do some sports for “health” reasons and because sports is something everyone does. I tried Kendo, Teakwondo, Aikido and horse back riding. I never lasted anywhere longer than half a year.

When I entered the work force, I simply gave up on any sports. The only thing I did ever since I have a job is riding my bicycle. Not a fancy race or mountain bike, mind, but a “mama chari” as the Japanese call it, a normal city bicycle with a basket for your luggage. Even with the bicycle, I must have a “reason” to ride. The reason is either commuting to the train station or on the weekends doing whatever grocery or drug store or other shopping. I have great difficulties doing a bicycle ride if there is “no reward” or “no purpose”, the purpose being commute or shopping.
But, alas, we’re not getting younger and I have trouble with my back for ten years already and now I have finally reached the point of “I gotta do something” for my health and somehow move those stiffening joints.
For a year or so now I am doing daily back stretching exercises for fifteen minutes in the evening before going to bed, but that’s not enough anymore and I have the feeling I need to do more.

So, new year resolution for 2019 was “go to yoga or Pilates or something”. I managed to activate a work colleague and together we checked the Internet for a yoga studio close to work and oh miracle, we actually found a place one minute from the office.
I think we were very lucky with the place. It’s a super clean and modern women only studio and they offer yoga as well as Pilates and also have a room with a workout machine circuit. The yoga trial class we went to was excellent. I immediately liked the trainer lady. So I became a member of the studio and have already done three weeks of yoga (once a week) and one Pilates session (which was not such a hit. In the session we used the so called “spine corrector” and the prop was too small for my non-Japanese height). Last week, we also got an instruction session for the workout machines. I have never been to a gym yet, haha! I’m not sure whether I will use those machines a lot, but the yoga sessions I am wildly determined to continue. I truly hope that my back problems will get a bit better thanks to this. Maybe I should have started ten years ago, but sports and I, that’s like oil and water!