The days are cool the northerly winds of winter have set in so it’s high time to share my top three things about winter in Okinawa. And, just in time for the New Years break…
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.
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.
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.