I must admit that winter in Okinawa isn’t my favourite. In my opinion the beauty of Okinawa truly shines during the warm sunny summer months. The colours that make these islands so vibrant truly shine under the
summer sun. White coral beaches, aquamarine seas and the effervescent green of the forests and fields do much to cover up the shabby concrete jungle of Okinawa’s cities.
But, back to Okinawa’s winter for now… As the days start to warm up and the cool windy days of winter become rarer I thought I’d reflect on some of my favourite things about winter in Okinawa.
Firstly, it’s really not that cold so it’s a great time to get active and explore. The northern forests of Yanbaru offer some great rivers, waterfalls and walking tracks that are beautiful any time of the year. And, the cooler weather makes exploring the island’s castle ruins, or ‘Gusku‘ (グスク), a really enjoyable and much less sweaty affair than usual.
Despite the northerly winds that tend to kick up during winter, Okinawa’s colder months are perfect for cycling. Again, the remote northern areas of Okinawa are the place to head for scenic quiet (and smooth) roads. And, there’s some pretty good riding on offer too! One of Japan’s main events on the cycling calendar, the Tour de Okinawa, is held every November and attracts many top level riders – including local hero and regular Tour de France entrant Yukiya Arashiro.
Another one of my favourite things about winter in Okinawa is the citrus fruit on offer. The delights of local citrus varieties called ‘Shikuwasa‘ (シークヮーサー) and ‘Tankan’ (タンカン) personally offer much more excitement than the often hyped cherry blossoms. Add local winter tomatoes (grown in winter to avoid disease caused by summer humidity) and garlic to the mix and the winter produce rivals the island’s more famous summer offerings.
Spring is here and the fluorescent pink hibiscus and bougainvillea are already flowing. I’ll miss my favourite winter things, but summer is around the corner and I’m looking forward to it!