Okinawa’s American Village, Rooftop Views, and Snake Liquor

Lunch in American Village

After parting with my host family, I was able to meet up with a friend who was staying in Okinawa. Together we walked around American Village, a small part of the island dedicated to “American culture”.  The place had an old-town, nostalgic vibe with many clothing stores and restaurants scattered about. Some of the buildings were painted in bright popping colors, and a large ferris wheel lay in the center as the iconic landmark of the area. While it was definitely different than the usual Japan vibe, it didn’t feel very “American” to me…

Okinawa's American Village

Tourists and locals come to American Village for a change of scenery. Below, two girls sport a Western style of dress complete with baggy shirts, short jean shorts, dangly earrings, and sunglasses.

Shopping in American Village, Okinawa
A fashion sense completely different from the rest of the island

My friend and I were famished when we met (something very unsurprising for the both of us), so we quickly settled down at a restaurant specializing in ribs. After ordering a pair of tall tropical smoothies, we each got an order of fall-off-the-bone ribs. Paired with rice and soup, I was couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Ribs in Okinawa American Village
Ribs in American Village
DSC_0498_2
It was only a little while before both of our plates were clean, with only bones remaining

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

After our satisfying meal, we made our way north towards the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. I had forgotten how late buses run on Okinawa and almost lost hope making it to our destination when it finally came. Away from the central city of Naha, the area was much more remote and quiet. A single road gives residents access to nearby eateries and a way to the rest of the island.

Okinawa Rooftop View
Rooftop view- a lush jungle lies below the university

In order to get a better look of the land around us, we clambered up the roof of the University. It was a little scary since it looked like it was about to start thundering, but the view was phenomenal. To the left, rain clouds darkened the area beneath it, while to the right, the sun lit up bright red rooftops. Behind us, mountains were filled with lush trees, and a jungle surrounded the base of the university.

Okinawa Rooftop
Enjoying the rooftop view
Red roofs and Okinawa Ocean
Red roofs contrast the brilliant blue ocean

I enjoyed soaking up the scenery- the ocean, hills, jungle-forest, and houses below. Later that evening, we headed out for one last meal together. I was able to borrow an electric bike and together we rode down the street to a handful of restaurants. (yes, another electric bike experience!!)

Snake Liquor (Habushu) and Tuna Sukiyaki

We chose a bustling place with an expansive menu of traditional Japanese dishes. To start I ordered a glass of habushu (snake liquor) . Figuring this was my last chance to try the fearsome drink, I pulled the trigger and watched as the server ladled out a healthy serving into my cup. There wasn’t much liquor left in the jar so the ladle scraped dangerously close to the snake lying at the bottom. Brushing away the slight queasiness inside, I clinked glasses with my friend and took a sip. It was full of spices, whiskey based, and wasn’t really my cup of tea… liquor. I sipped on it during the rest of the meal and everything was fine until I got close to the bottom and noticed small scales floating on the surface. At that point I called it quits. No doubt it was an interesting experience, but I will not be ordering snake liquor again anytime soon.

Okinawa Snake Liquor: Habushu
Okinawa Snake Liquor: Habushu

Creepy snake liquor aside, the rest of the meal was a hit. We ordered tuna sukiyaki and had the delight of dipping various cuts of tuna into simmering sweet and salty sauce. Paired with a variety of veggies, tofu, and noodles, this course was definitely my favorite.

Tuna Sukiyaki
Tuna sashimi, veggies and tofu about to be dipped in sauce
Tuna Sukiyaki
Mid dip
Okinawa Sea Grapes
Sea grapes: an Okinawan classic. These burst in your mouth like a little taste of the sea
Okinawa fried fish
The remains of a fried fish

Enjoyed this post? Check out these posts for more Japan adventures!

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