My friend Tiki sarcastically said that all Americans who visit Japan go to Okinawa. It is set to rain and get really cold in Tokyo for the next three days. So we did the American thing.

As we drove from the airport towards our resort, we passed an area with bars and strip joints. Jo said “marine base” and sure enough we soon passed the Marine base. A bit later we passed an A&W restaurant and a McDonalds. Jo said “Air Force base, and a minute later we drove past the US Air Force base at Kadena. I guess Jo knows her brothers well! Or Okinawa.

Okinawa is very different from Tokyo or Osaka or Kyoto. For starters, it’s not an urban jungle. Okinawa is where Hawaii meets Japan. Vivian found it unnerving and kept referring to Tokyo as “real Japan”.

The island is pretty. We walked a bit, hiked to a waterfall recommended by Beth, and drove to the best cherry blossom viewing spots though the peak had passed. Jo and Evan went down to the beach and got in the water. We ate breakfasts at Hawaiian pancake places and dinners at yakinikus where you grill your own dinner at your table. The scallops and squid were good but the wagyu beef specially cut for the grill is to die for. We celebrated Vivian’s 13th birthday at the best yakinuki in town.

The other thing Vivian got for her birthday was to scuba dive. She literally no instruction beyond equalizing her pressure and purging her mask, hastily explained mostly in sign language while we were on the way out in the dive boat. But Vivian flipped backwards off the boat and we stayed down for about 30 minutes at about 25 feet and the dive instructor stayed with her. She loved every minute off it and stared and the fish and coral in fascinated awe. Sadly about 90% of the coral was bleached. First thing she said once we were back topside and the regulator was out of her mouth? “When can we do this again”?

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