The Uncertain 7-day Okinawa Journey: Bise no Fukugi Tree Road

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Day 3: Bise no Fukugi Tree Road

As I mentioned in the earlier post, day 3 in Okinawa was a wash. What was supposed to be a full-day excursion at the famous Churaumi Aquarium and the adjacent Expo Gardens got cancelled because the place was closed as a result of Covid-19. Plus with strong rains and the extreme dip in temperature, we were practically holed up in the hotel most of the time.

Thankfully, by early evening, the rain let up and slowed to a heavy drizzle. Mom didn't want to get cold or wet so I ventured out with dad to the Bise no Fukugi Tree Road. The Bise no Fukugi Tree Road was recommended by the receptionist who gave us really clear directions. Well, it was the only attraction really that was within walking distance. Another reason why a car is kinda necessary if you want to move around the whole of Okinawa. 

There were pretty clear signages along the way. Even then, dad got worried mid-way and kept asking if we were on the right path, since it looked like we were just walking along roads, some dilapidated buildings and nothing much else. He was only reassured when we saw the Welcome board. 

I have to admit, if not because we had nowhere else to go, I wouldn't have included this in the itinerary at all. Basically the entire draw of the place was just a road flanked by these tall Fukugi trees on both sides. Good to stroll around on a cool day and you can get pretty pictures, but it does get boring after a while.

The area itself is mostly residential although there were some cafes near the entrance and a couple of shops once you enter the tree tunnel. After a short stroll, dad and I chanced upon a cafe called Soy Soy and decided to stop for hot drinks and to escape the cold. It was the best choice of the evening.

Honestly, after the cup of coffee, dad and I just decided to head back. We did attempt to take the way long through the beach but gave up very shortly. It was just too cold and the rain was coming back on. 

All in, not too excited by the Bise no Fukugi Tree Road even though they were a pretty sight at first. Bummer of a Day 3.

The Uncertain 7-day Okinawa Journey: Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa (Part 2)

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Apologies for the brief hiatus. No, I was not stricken with Covid-19. Instead, I picked up a new hobby during Singapore's Circuit Breaker (aka lockdown) and was spending the past few weekends with this new hobby. But ok, I do intend to finish the Okinawa posts so here goes.

Day 3 in Okinawa was a complete wash. I made a gamble that did not pay off at all. My original plan was to spend the entire day at Churaumi Aquarium but if you read my earlier posts, you'd have known how this became impossible. Given the original plan, I did not plan for driver at all for Day 3 and took the gamble that we could still explore the area nearby and would not need one. 

Oh well. The skies had a different opinion and thwarted my plans with an incredibly heavy downpour. So much so, even when we attempted to step out when we thought the rain was slowing, we were back in the hotel in a jiffy. It was just too wet and cold to be out. In fact in the short time that we attempted to walk to the beach, my shoes got so soaked, I had to change into another pair. We were essentially stuck in our hotel for most of the day, either in the lobby with the lovely view of the rain and sea bashing against each other, or within our warm, cozy room. 

Of course we ended up having all our meals in the hotel. Thankfully even thought there was only one restaurant which had a pretty simple menu, it was diverse enough that we didn't have to end up eating the same thing repeatedly.

Again, as you can see from the picture, we basically had the entire place to ourselves. Over lunch and dinner, we tried quite a few dishes: Okinawan noodles, pizza, tonkatsu curry, chicken yakitori, chicken karrage. Mom's verdict: Skip the yakitori, the rest all ok.

But you know what the best part was? Free-flow yummy gelato! All you can eat ice cream in cold weather! Between meals, we tried all the flavours. Of course, there were flavours that featured Okinawa's best like brown sugar, purple sweet potato (which I found a little weird).  

Thankfully breakfast the next day was a buffet spread else my parents and I really wouldn't know what else to order. And the spread was decent too. I had at least 3 helpings of some of my favourite items.

And I've got to say, I was impressed that even with very little people, the hotel continued to put out a decent spread. And even replenished items!

Even though I have no complains about Centurion Hotel, I don't think I will be returning anytime soon. Well, I definitely want to return to Okinawa and have the chance to visit Churaumi Aquarium, but given how much time we spent in the hotel, I'd like to try the newer one beside Centurion.

The Uncertain 7-day Okinawa Journey: Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa (Part 1)

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Day 2: Nago Pineapple Park --> Ufuya --> Kouri Ocean Tower --> Nakijin Castle (cancelled) --> Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa

Day 2 kind of went downhill after Kouri Island. Because of her vertigo, mom got really car sick on the way to Nakijin Castle. In addition, it started to really pour and I knew that there would be little shelter at the castle ruins. Hence we decided to cancel Nakijin Castle and instead head straight to our hotel.

I knew mom was really glad to see the hotel when we reached. The thing I do like about traveling free and easy on our own is that we can decide and make changes to our itinerary when needed. Unlike joining a group tour, where you are forced to adhere to the itinerary whether or not you like it.

Walking into the lobby was a relief. Day 2 was when we realised that the winds at Okinawa can be brutally cold. Mom actually stood in shock for a moment when she alighted from the car and then ran into the lobby to get out of the winds.

Thankfully check in was simple and again fuss free. We were again informed by the receptionist that the Churaumi Aquarium was closed. What I liked was the follow-up touch, when the receptionist realised that the aquarium was the reason why we checked into this hotel, she offered to assist us in our itinerary if we didn't know what to do.

If you see my photo above, you'd spot the shadows of a corridor to the left. That's where our room was, just much further in. I usually don't like rooms that are the same floor as the reception as it can be really noisy but this round was ok mainly because it was further in and the hotel was a little deserted. Another time where there was very little people around because of the Covid-19 situation. 

My apologies for the quick snaps of the room. I didn't want to hold up my mom taking a rest but neither did I want photos of a messed-up room later. 

When booking the hotels for this segment of the trip, I had a few options and eventually decided to go with the one nearest to Churaumi Aquarium. In fact, Centurion Hotel had a direct path into the aquarium which would have been perfect if the aquarium was open. However, the next time I'm back for the aquarium, I'm going to try the other hotel next to Centurion. Only because it looked newer and more modern than Centurion.

Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa isn't too bad, but its exactly like its name - a little old. The room was clean and well-maintained. My only complaint was the third bed. When I booked the room, it was advertised as a triple room. My third bed was a sofa bed and the springs were really too old. one night would probably had been fine, but the second night was a torture on the back.

My parents didn't have any issues though with their queen bed and mom recovered enough after 2 nights of rest here.

The toilet and bath was decent sized but lacked hooks or shelves to separate your clean and dirty linen when cleaning up. As there were 3 of us, we had to be really creative with hanging up our towels and clothes. 

The awesome view from our hotel window. One of the rare times that mom wanted to keep the curtains open. By the way, the path to the aquarium is down this pool.

What really saved us while staying at Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa was the 7-11 that was a short stroll away from the hotel. We ended up being really stuck in the hotel the next day and haha, one of the highlights was to walk to the convenience store to get snacks. 

Upon exiting the hotel, turn left and just stroll down the road until you spot 7-11. It's a really short walk, definitely less than 5 minutes away. My only gripe is that it's not a very big one.

My initial plan was to have our dinners 2 nights in a row at the hotel. However, seeing that we were going to be extremely stuck, my parents and I instead decided that for our first night at Centurion, to just settle dinner with whatever we could find at 7-11. 

The wonderful thing about convenience stores in Japan is that you can really get a full and nutritious meal there. My parents settled for bento boxes and some fried chicken while I went for the onigiri. We also had our pick of drinks. I picked a packet of coffee flavoured milk which I always enjoyed in Japan while my parents went for apple tea. We also stocked up on water and the Calbee potato crisps that my mom loved so much. 

Thankfully we headed out to the 7-11 early enough because the minute we stepped back into the hotel lobby, it started pouring. In fact, during that short journey to and back from the 7-11, mom was already shivering from the cold blasts of winds. The light drizzle on the way back just made it worse but we were especially relieved that we missed the rain.

And that marked the end of a short Day 2.

The Uncertain 7-day Okinawa Journey: Kouri Ocean Tower

Friday, 8 May 2020

Day 2: Nago Pineapple Park --> Ufuya --> Kouri Island (1 hr 15 mins) --> Nakijin Castle --> Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa

After the superb lunch at Ufuya, we headed for our next destination, Kouri Island. Kouri Island is a 30 minute drive from Ufuya and you know you've reach when you start crossing the scenic Kouri Bridge. We were informed by the iPad in the car that the Kouri Bridge is 1960 meters long and is the longest toll free bridge in Okinawa. Unfortunately, as it had started raining by then, even though our driver offered us the option to get off at the entrance of the bridge, we skipped that. There's a very tiny parcel of beach there which really isn't much. However, the idea about getting off at the entrance of the bridge is to enjoy the sight of the bridge. It's a prime photo spot if you want to get a picture of the bridge really, especially if you're interested in a blue and white theme picture.

Anyway, I was primarily interested in the Kouri Ocean Tower although the entire Kouri Island is open for exploration. In addition, given that it had started raining, we asked our driver to head straight up to the Ocean Tower.

We used our Okinawa Enjoy Pass again to exchange for tickets and headed to yet another driverless cart ride in order to get to the Ocean Tower. Yup. Day 2 is just full of driverless cart rides. This one was definitely the most scenic of all, since the cart took us on a leisurely ride round and up the hill. We had a bird's eye view of the island and the bridge. 

Ok, because it was raining and mom was starting to feel a little unwell, I didn't stop to take as many photos as I liked. So I didn't get any of the exterior of the tower. And just FYI, mom was suffering from vertigo and not Covid-19. Different symptoms, but I digress.

Our first stop once we reached the Ocean Tower was the shell museum where we spent quite some time there. Even though she wasn't at her best, mom was still extremely fascinated by the wide array of shells we saw there! There were a lot of the usual shells that we know of, like conch shells, clams and cowries. However, some of the sizes we saw were amazingly huge! 

There were also some really colourful ones that I absolutely loved! It was like the rainbow painted them! My parents initially even thought that they were dyed until we were later informed that these were their original colours! Seriously beautiful! I took photos of the ones that I liked and there was even 1 set (second photo below) that looked like they could be a nail art set!

There's a small gift shop specialising in shells at the end of the museum. We browsed a little and marvelled at some of the creations, like this really pretty shell lamp (photo below). I actually considered a wind chime that was made from shells but eventually decided against it as it seemed really fragile and I wasn't confident about packing it into the luggage. Mom actually commented that it was a pity since it was really pretty.

Exiting from the gift shop, we then took the elevator to the second floor of the tower. The second and the third floors of the towers are indoor observation areas. We did a round on the third floor but the highlight has got to be the open roof observation deck. At a height of 82 meters above sea level, the rooftop observation deck offered an amazing panoramic view of Kouri Island and the Kouri Bridge.

As it was raining, the winds were really strong that day. While at the rooftop deck, there was another group of four guys who lost their hand held tickets and a head band to the winds! So if you have anything lightweight, make sure you hang on tight to them!

Seriously loved the view.
Dad insisted on a photo here and I can totally understand why. The photo turned out really good too!

After we exited the tower, we headed for our favourite thing to do. Haha, yeah, we shopped again at yet another souvenir shop. In fact this was where I had bought my shikuwasa cider that I had introduced in an earlier post. We bought more food stuff again here although I was a little disappointed not to have gotten anything pumpkin related. Kouri Island is also known for producing yummy pumpkins. There was a café that sold pumpkin cakes and pastries but we skipped it as we were too full from lunch. In hindsight, I don't know why we didn't just get it to go so that we could save it for later.

By the time we exited Kouri Tower, it was raining really heavily and mom was really unwell by then. Hence, we skipped exploring the island itself. Which was a pity because my research prior the trip indicated that it was a really quaint island with unique stores and cozy cafes and pop-up food trucks. In fact, there's apparently one food truck that was really famous for its shrimp.

On well. Another time I guess.

Tourist Information

Kouri Ocean Tower
Address: 538 Kouri, Nakijin-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
DID: 0980-56-1616
Opening hours: 9 am to 6 pm, last entry is usually at 5:30 pm
Admission fees: 


800 yen

High School

600 yen

Elementary School

300 yen



The Uncertain 7-Day Okinawa Journey: Ufuya

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Day 2: Nago Pineapple Park --> Ufuya (1 hr 15 mins) --> Kouri Island --> Nakijin Castle --> Centurion Hotel Resort Vintage Okinawa

Once we were done at Nago Pineapple Park, we headed for lunch at a converted folk house, Ufuya. I found this restaurant online, and reviews indicated a 100-year history, great scenery and great food, abet with a great price too. This was probably the priciest meal we had in our entire trip. But well, Okinawa is famous for its Agu pork and Ufuya is famous for Agu pork. Put 2 and 2 together, and Ufuya's in the intinerary.

Ufuya (大家 うふやー) is a 5-minute drive away from Nago Pineapple Park. It was only later when I looked through the brochures again, that I realised that the pineapple park and Ufuya were under the same parent company. Which now explains why they also use driverless carts to bring you from the carpark to the restaurant. Now this time, my parents were exceptionally grateful for the carts because the restaurant was at the bottom of a really steep slope. It would have taken a lot of effort (and unnecessary pain) if mom had to walk the slopes on her own.

Ok, once we reached the restaurant, I forgot to take pictures until mom reminded me. I'm sorry but yeah excitement for Agu pork took over. As usual, food brings out "the best" in me yah. So no, I didn't get any photo of the restaurant. Post lunch coma made me forget too. So I'm really sorry but you'd just have to take my word that the place was really picturesque.

Now, Ufuya is pretty well-known amongst tourists and locals alike. So as advised by reviews I read, I made reservations prior flying off. Else, it was said that the wait could be as long as an hour just to get a table. On the day itself, even though we were slightly early, there were already people inside the restaurant having meals. By the time it hit peak lunch hour, the crowd really thronged in during our meal and the place filled up very quickly. It was the most crowded place I had seen during this trip in these Covid-19 times. Thank goodness I made that reservation.

As advertised, the scenery was awesome. Imagine dining right next to a waterfall, cascading streams, lush greenery, brightly coloured flowers and fluttering butterflies. Oh yeah! We were fortunate enough to be seated right next to a waterfall. My parents were really stunned and remarked that this was probably one of the prettiest places they've ever eaten at.

While making reservations, I was directed to also book the meals. No brainer that I selected the Agu pork shabu-shabu set for all of us. Well, there was also the famous Ishigaki beef set but as my parents do not eat beef, I had to settle for just the Agu pork.

As usual, we were first served the appetizers and the dipping sauces. And that's when we had our first taste of the famous Umibudo (Okinawan sea grapes 海ぶどう). Umibudo is a kind of seaweed but instead of leaves like the kelp that we usually see, it's got little bubbles. 

Eating umibudo is an experience in itself that I would definitely recommend if you visit Okinawa, especially if you profess to be a foodie. Those little bubbles pop in your mouth, quite like popping candies, just smaller and saltier. In fact, it felt like little pops of sea in your mouth! It was quite a fun dish and actually refreshing to the palette.

I think this is another version of Okinawan tofu. The texture is a lot grainer but I loved it and thought that it paired really well with the bit of peanut sesame sauce. Having said that, I was the only one who liked this though. My parents put it aside just after a mouthful. 

And the highlight of lunch! The Agu pork!

Sorry I have no photos of the actual hotpot meal. Like I said earlier, "food gets the best of me". I completely forgot and the only reason why I even got a picture of the Agu pork was because mom wanted to send a picture of it to my brother who wasn't able to join us on this trip. 

So the shabu-shabu set also comes with local Okinawan vegetables and noodles. And as if they were afraid that you ain't going to be full, they throw in some really awesome meat dumplings. The pork was beautifully marbled and just yums. By the time we were done with the vegetables as well, the broth was just superbly delicious! The portions were really huge though and as much as we stuffed ourselves, we really couldn't finish the noodles at all.

In case it's your first time having shabu-shabu, fret not. The shabu-shabu set comes with a piece of instructions and even if you don't understand the words, the accompanying picture visuals make up for it. 

Loved the food, enjoyed the great scenery. Good food equals good mood and we left Ufuya really satisfied and happy. If money isn't a concern, I strongly recommend putting Ufuya on your itinerary. 

Tourist Information

Address: 90 Nakayama, Nago City, Okinawa, 905-0004
DID: +81 980-53-0280

Reservations highly recommended. Book online via their website.