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How to Enjoy the Steaming Hot Summer in Okinawa; 5 Recommendations from the Locals!
post : 2019.08.05 23:00
As the rainy season ends, another hot and long summer season in Okinawa begins! Because Okinawan summers are long, there’s a lot to do and various must-haves to really enjoy this wonderful season. For this article, we’ve selected five local recommendations for Okinawan summers for visitors to the islands.
1. Beach Parties are a Must in Okinawan Summers!
When the rainy days are behind us, summer quickly gets into full swing and it’s the highly anticipated beach party season! The local Okinawans frequently get together for beach parties with family, coworkers, relatives and other groups, and these gatherings are important occasions to spend quality time and encourage friendship and communication. During the summer season, some people have beach parties every weekend! You will likely see groups having fun on the beach and grilling delicious foods on the BBQ grill at various beaches around the island.
You can feast on a BBQ as you enjoy the beautiful blue seas, play beach volleyball or soccer, go beachcombing for interesting-looking shells, or catch some fish and grill it right on the beach. Whatever you like to do at the beach, you can do it all at a beach party. There are so many places to choose from for you to enjoy relaxing with an ice-cold beer as you watch the spectacular sunset, or delight in conversation with family and friends.
Many beaches around the islands offer BBQ sets that come with all the necessary BBQ equipment and food. So, look for information at your favorite beach and reserve, and have yourselves a wonderful time and make many great memories of your time in Okinawa.
Look up some beaches and tour packages where you can enjoy a beach party with your friends and family! Here are a few suggestions:
Ginowan City’s Tropical Beach
Chatan Town’s Sunset Beach
BBQ on the Boat in Yaeyama
2. Roadside Ice Cream Stands
There are countless ice cream shops throughout Okinawa, but you may have seen those little ice cream stands along Route 58 and other major roads with the blue and white parasols. These Big Ice stands have been offering their special Ice Crins to the locals for many years, and are only available during the warmer months and through the summer season. The Ice Crins have a texture that’s a good balance between ice cream and sherbet and is a simple and somewhat nostalgic taste. Most of the stands basically offer vanilla, but some also offer chocolate or local shikwasa citrus flavors as well.
While driving and I spot a blue and white parasol, I can’t help but to pull over and buy myself an ice cream cone from the Big Ice stand. There’s an urban legend among the locals that the girls tending to the stands are usually very pretty, too. These roadside ice cream stands are cherished by the locals and are a fixture in the hot summer months.
[Big Ice Details]
Hours: From 10:00 to about 18:00
3. Absolute Must-Haves: T-Shirts!
An absolute necessity for the hot summer months in Okinawa are T-shirts. Before the summer begins, it’s fun to pick out your new favorite to wear in the summer. Original T-shirts with designs of your favorite artists or tastefully Okinawan designs, or those with humorous or cool words and characters on them, there are so many to choose from! You can enjoy choosing a similar design or color for the family to wear together, too. Go ahead and find a T-shirt that matches your taste and have a great time!
If you’re looking for great designs for your T-shirts, we recommend the T-SHIRT-YA.COM, a T-shirt specialty shop situated on Kokusai Street in Naha. They have over 300 varieties of mainly T-shirts to choose from!
They offer brands that have classical designs from the period of the Ryukyu Kingdom, as well as more modern and casual Okinawan designs. These stylish T-shirts have various Okinawan tastes and are very pop and cool, and you can feel the love for Okinawa by the creators. At this shop, they offer original designs and also brands of T-shirts with designs created in collaboration with local musicians, too. You may find a perfect T-shirt for yourself with designs of your favorite Okinawan artists.
[Details on T-SHIRT-YA.COM Kokusai Street Branch]
Address: 2F 3-1-8 Makishi, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 10:00 to 21:00
4. Summer Festivals: A Paradise for Beer and Music Lovers!
A popular local summer festival is the Orion Beer Fest which offers live performances by local artists who are widely known across Japan and overseas, and refreshing local beer, the Orion Beer, direct from the brewery! Orion Beer Fest is a great local tradition, and this year, like always, will take place on different dates on the main island of Okinawa as well as on the outer islands like Miyako and Ishigaki, too!
The Orion Beer Fests are free to enter and you can enjoy cups of Orion beer from the tap as you groove to the live performances on stage.
At the entrance, they will check your ID to make sure you are of age and you will be issued a wrist band. With the wrist band, you can enjoy beer at 300 yen a cup, and surrounding the stage area are numerous food stands offering delicious fares that go perfectly with the icy cold beer. Live music and endless food and beer are a great way to spend a hot summer night on Okinawa.
It’s always exciting to see who will be performing, and every year, the locals gather together with family and friends to enjoy the event. Some people start early in the day and enjoy a full day at the festival. As the festival comes to a close, the brilliant colors of fireworks light up the skies. The Orion Beer Fest is truly a fun and delightful summer event that the locals highly recommend!
[Details on Orion Beer Fest]
Dates: Held every year in July & August
Venues: Various locations on Okinawa, Ishigaki, and Miyako Islands, and Taipei, too!
5. Amazing Eisa Drum Dance Performances!
A great tradition that is a longstanding summer fixture in Okinawa is the Eisa drum dancing. The dance is an offering for the ancestors which is a major part of the traditional event of Obon which takes place in the summer. In each community throughout Okinawa, the local youth groups perform the Eisa as they proceed along the local streets and in front of homes. During the Obon period, or known as Kyu-Bon in Okinawa which is according to the lunar calendar, you may come across these processions when passing through local communicates. Eisa is a traditional performance art of Okinawa, and in the recent years, it has garnered fans across Japan and even overseas, and some Eisa groups are invited to various locations worldwide to perform at festivals and other such events. The authentic Eisa dances vary according to each community, and each have their own traditional dances. There are people who are fans of particular Eisa dances from different communities, and some of the true Eisa lovers go Eisa-hopping, going from one community to another to see the processions.
For those who want to see Eisa performances from various communities all in one spot, the Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri (All Okinawa Eisa Festival) is a three-day event which allows you to see numerous styles of the Eisa dances. Every year, tens of thousands of spectators (up to 31 thousand!) gather for this great Eisa event. This year, it will be held simultaneously as the Orion Beer Fest in Okinawa City, so if you get a chance, definitely pencil that in to your itinerary!
Eisa is usually performed in a Michi Junei style where the young men and women dance along the streets of their community to offer their dance to console the spirits of the ancestors. But at Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri, you can see the Michi Junei procession of numerous youth groups participating in the year’s Eisa festival all on one street.
The clown-like Chondara with their silly makeup and costumes are an important part of the group and procession. They act silly and perhaps slightly drunk, but they assist in hyping the crowds and encouraging the dancers.
Check for details on this famous Eisa Festival here:
We hope you enjoyed our introduction and recommendation of how to enjoy the long Okinawan summers! The locals look forward to these events and traditions every year, so if you’re visiting Okinawa, we hope you’ll experience everything that the locals enjoy in the summer in Okinawa. We’re sure that you’ll love Okinawa even more, so take the opportunity to really enjoy the “deeper” side of Okinawa while you’re here!
Okinawa CLIP Editorial Dept.