One of our primary goals for our year-long trip is to spend quality time with our friends that live around the world and that we don’t get to see as often as we’d like back in the states. So, after three weeks on the main island of Japan, David and I flew to Okinawa to reconnect with some of our friends in the US Air Force.
Before arriving I had vague notions of what Okinawa would be like, formed from stories of my grandpa’s time serving in the Navy, and from one of my favorite movies: South Pacific. While there, we got a taste of each aspect of island life: a tropical paradise and base for U.S. military support in the region.
While I imagine it’s difficult for many American families to move so far from home to serve on Okinawa, our friends really make the most of island living, and we had the best week exploring their favorite places around the island. We especially loved dinner at Jirocho, which served the best sushi we’ve found in Japan, cakes from Patisserie Joie Joie 326 (a beautiful French bakery where we picked up David’s birthday cake), and visiting Yomitan Pottery Village where we fell in love with a set of handmade ramen bowls, and spent entirely too much to ship them back to the states. Snorkeling near their home was like swimming in a salt water aquarium, and I loved trying paddle boarding for the first time. We also spent a day touring Kadena Air Base, and David and I both got to try flying F-15s in the flight simulators the pilots use for training. It was incredible!
But of all the great cafes, hikes and activities, I loved hanging out with our friends at their apartment the most. We learned that locals don’t like waterfront property because the typhoons are so brutal, so they often buy homes inland and on higher ground, but that means that there’s less competition for ocean views. Our friends’ home was right on the water and they made several (delicious!) dinners for us, including incredible steak and lamb chops for David’s birthday dinner, served on their balcony against a backdrop of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen, punctuated by the occasional roar of jet engines as Boeing E-3 sentries and formations of helicopters would return home.
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com