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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Miyakojima Okinawa 3D2N Trip with a baby [PART1] Where to Stay & Eat

So I've finally visited Okinawa prefecture last autumn, not exactly the main island where Naha is located (popular tourist destination, and sadly one of their main attraction- Shuri castle burned down last year) but baby steps! It's been my life long dream to visit this beautiful unique island which is located in Kyushu region, all thanks to the anime series Blood+ (don't judge me, let me live my anime dream lol).  If you aren't aware of Okinawa, it's one of the 5 main islands that makes up the whole of Japan; It's the smallest and least populated island as well but i wouldn't mind retiring here because the weather here is "almost" perfect all year round, kinda reminds me of Malaysian weather except the more bearable kind lol.  

I've read and seen so many postings about Okinawa but can only tell myself to dream of it because first of all it's not exactly near, from Kansai Airport (KIX) we have to take a 3 hours direct domestic flight to our destination. Oh, and i forgot to mention the island we visited was Miyakojima!

If you pick the right period, prices can go as low as 10,000 yen per adult (return ticket) which is so much cheaper than a shinkansen ticket to Tokyo lol, so far the only way to get to the island is by flight as i tried searching online to see whether there is a direct ferry route but unfortunely nothing came up. But if you guys do happen to know one, would appreciate if you could point me in the right direction so i can include it in my blogpost for other readers who are planning to visit too :)

Everything here is so different, in a good way; from the way the friendly locals greet you in their own dialect, their cultural practices, building architectures , food, and a whole lot of other things. It might sound bias because i've only stayed there for 2 days, but i think the locals of Okinawa are more friendlier compared to where i live which is on Japan's main island (Honshu) haha, just a personal observation and the danna somehow agrees with me on this 😂
It's just something about Okinawans' ways that makes you feel like family almost immediately.

For those of you who are not familiar with what Miyakojima has to offer, it's actually known for their beach resorts and coral reefs making it a popular snorkeling destination. Sad to say that i did not sign up for any snorkelling sessions this round so i can't really share about how amazing underwater view is but you can definitely find amazing pictures of their coral reefs on postcards being sold in every souvenier shop.

My travel policy is always, if you didn't experience it then it ain't real haha; kiasu must see it with my own eyes to believe it haha.

We took a travel package (from one of those Japanese travel websites like Rakuten) that included in flights, accomodation, airport transfer and car pick up to make our trip hassle free with a baby because it was honestly cheaper getting a full package at this point rather than to plan and travel independantly like how we always do, as mentioned earlier during off season you can get really good package deals; so a little googling around sometimes can save you lots of trouble. The whole idea of traveling with a kid is to make sure things are well planned out yet flexible at the same time so you don't get caught off guard during unexpected situations. Once the basic necessities are out of the way, then only you can start planning activities you want to do while you are here.

Since we already got ours sorted via travel agency, all we had to do was pack our bags and be at the airport on time.

Also does anyone have any idea on what kind of fruit this is lol, asking out of curiosity as we saw this on Miyakojima

Where to stay in Miyakojima

From Miyakojima airport onwards, meeting our airport transfer and picking up our car and driving to the hotel (took about 20 mins+), the rest was total freedom. Naturally on the first day everyone was pooped from the flight so we decided to just rest and save our energy for the next day.

Ever since i posted about my trip to Miyakojima, i've been getting tons of messages on which hotel is stayed at so here it is!

We stayed at Shigira Bayside Suite Allamanda (was honestly surprised to see a high end resort hotel offering such low rates) and from the packaged we booked, we aren't allowed to select rooms so it was assigned randomly. And based on the reviews i wasn't too worried about our rooms, and i was surprised that ours came with a personal swimming pool as well!

It was rather chilly to be swimming during this period (autumn) and we didn't really have much time so we skipped swimming in our pool (i rather swim in the sea lol). The view from our room is great in fact it overlooks the resort's turtle sanctuary and if you get rooms on 2nd floor onwards, you'' probably get a good view of the sea!

Refreshing welcome drink

The turtle sanctuary, every morning you can watch them being fed. Most of Shigira's souvenier designs are based on them, super cute orange turtles.

Seriously love this hotel because their 5 star service, all cars get free valet service and you get a refreshing welcome drink during check in at their gorgeous lobby.
Their rooms come with a welcome snack + a cute turtle plush toy souvenir courtesy of the hotel, that was like the first thing lil penguin attacked when she went inside the room lol. Our room was HUGE, it was bigger than my rented house back in Malaysia when i was still living alone. The only thing i found abit disturbing was the bedroom door design which initially look like a closet when its closed lol, sorry i still get nightmares of "things" coming out of the closet, it's a childhood trauma 😂

Our room had a "living room" section furnished with a huge coffee table, sofa and TV;  a reading balcony which i could laze on it all day and i know i mentioned it before but i'm going to mention it again just to let it sink in (lol), an attached personal swimming pool!
The toilet is split into 2 sections, dressing table and shower room which is fully see through thanks to the glass walls haha, reminds me of those love hotels. If you want some privacy (especially sharing room with other family members), luckily there are some blinds you can use or else everyone is going to enjoy some "free show" haha.

 Bath salts & moisturizing face mask is even provided

Since this is a resort hotel, you basically don't have to leave the premises unless you want to do some exploring around the island. Shigira Bayside Suite Allamanda comes with its own onsen, private beach for guests to swim/ snorkel, restaurants (serves buffet style breakfast), souvenir shops and nearby there is Ueno German Culture Village. We could easily just spend 2 days relaxing within the resort itself but after reading up about Miyakojima's attractions, i just had to drag the danna and lil penguin out for a short road trip, thanks for layaning me guys haha.

Ueno German Culture Village

There is also another thing to take note while staying here like room cleaning service and dinner plans. During mornings there is a buffet spread serving a variety of dishes, definitely family friendly but at night only fine dining restaurants are available, i remember seeing the restaurant menu price and went 🙀 because unless you are a couple on honeymoon, you wouldn't want to spend that kind of money on a meal. But there is a hotel shuttle bus service which you can use to get around the area to find budget friendly dinner (honestly if you have a car, driving is better), there is a small food court by the way!

 Breakfast buffet hall

Varieties available

Local tropical fruits found!

Enjoy breakfast with a beautiful sea view

We took the shuttle bus to one of the nearby hotels which had a small foodcourt, food was so-so over here at least it wasn't expensive

The fun part was the stage area as they have Okinawan dances ongoing and don't forget to check out the Ryukyu Island market (same area),you can find alot of interesting local souveniers to bring back like the famous Ryukyu blown glass.

Shigira Bayside Suite Allamanda's daily room cleaning services is slightly different, as long you leave the sign to not have your bedsheet/ towel replaced during your entire stay, you are eligible for free luggage delivery (within Japan). This is their eco friendly initiative (less washing to save the enviroment) which i found it a great way to encourage guests to be mindful and who doesn't like a little reward while at it :P

If you do decide to redeem the luggage delivery service like we did (so we went back home handsfree), make sure it doesn't contain any aerosol items like hairspray or deodorant because your luggage will definitely get hold back until those items are removed.  We were wondering why did our luggage took so long to arrive (usually 3-4 working days) and got a call requesting permission for our luggage lock combination and extraction of my hairspray which was by the way a tiny travel size one. Thinking back luckily it was a combination lock instead of the usual small padlock with key or else they'll need to use a lock cutter 😱 so yea, we learned something out of all this and another thing to be grateful for, no wet swimsuit in our luggage because imagine the stench of a week old damp clothing. Gross!

Free Access to Private Beach

While staying here we also had free access to Shigira's private beach, limited to only staying guests so it isn't too crowded compared to public beaches, we drove here from the hotel as we had to head to the airport after but i think there is a shuttle bus available from the lobby. You can rent snorkelling. diving, kayaking equipment here as well or just laze around the shore like we did, and boy how lil penguin hated the sand that its almost hilarious. You can sometimes even see couples doing wedding shoots here especially on a bright sunny day.

Clear and sparkling sea water

It's amazing how the seawater in Japan can be this clean!

Free bath towels are available and you can even wash up once you are done so you don't necessarily need to head back to the hotel to freshen up, their toilets are equipped with body wash & shampoo (and a decent water pressure of course lol). Just make sure to bring your own beach mat to sit on as their beach loungers are considered rental items and it ain't cheap.

Unfortunately no tattoos allowed on this beach  

Where you can get rental items & drinks

 Also opposite the beach there is a chairlift ropeway, which is free for staying guests as well. Just make sure to redeem your tickets during check in. 

You'll get a spectacular view from the top of the ropeway

Where and what to eat on Miyakojima Island

We started our mornings with breakfast at the hotel's restaurant buffet and highly recommend dining here because of the sunrise sea view, crashing waves echoing in the distance like an enticing siren's call, the warm yet cool (does this make sense?) sea breeze against your hair and skin; seriously there is no better way to start the day than this. Please pardon me, getting too melodramatic over this but i can't help it haha!

Okay back to my normal writing.

Ever since we landed in Miyakojima we have not done any prior research on what to eat, but all we did know is that we definitely need to find a family friendly dining place that serves local Okinawan dishes. Google was our best friend at this point, point the map to where we are and search around the area for nearby places lol. Not exactly an ideal way to plan a trip especially with a baby but hey, we found quite a few good spots that you can bookmark, shows that being impromtu sometimes isn't such a bad thing after all.

You MUST try their Goya Chanpuru or else we can't be friends!!😜

Wafutei Miyako (和風亭 宮古店)

This was the first restaurant we dined upon arriving at Miyakojima that isn't too far from where we picked up our car from, honestly wasn't expecting much because the town looks quite dead with not many options available as well so we were surprised to see this restaurant opened.

According to google reviews it has a 3.9 star rating, we know Japanese can be quite stingy with their star ratings (i run things back end for hospitality field so i know alot of this kind of stuff lol), you wouldn't see many giving 5 stars even though they are happy with the service; but don't let that deceive you because 3.9 star is considered quite "high standard" in Japan. Even on popular Japanese food sites like tabelog, you can easily see the rating patterns from there. As long it falls between the 3.5-4 star gap out of 5 then it's safe to assume food & service is decent. 

Also if you aren't convinced with the ratings, just read the comments (use quick google translated the page to english) and you can roughly gauge from there. 

Back to Wafutei Miyako, as it is a family restaurant so they do have tatami dining area that you little one can crawl around and their handicap toilet even comes with a diaper changing table.

The food here is amazing, everything is so fresh and the portion is huge too, they serve normal Japanese style washoku by the way. Usually whenever i order a washoku set back home, the portion was easily half of what i was served here; i mean if we had 2 kids, our lunch set alone could have easily fed them as well. I really struggled to finish up as much as i could and nearly exploded in the process lol, i felt seriously bad that i was unable to finish it up (too bad we can't pack the leftovers, in Japan they don't usually allow to pack half eaten foods because they are worried of potential food poisioning if it does go bad during the process of bringing home) my portion, if i've known it would be this big i would have order a small ala carte dish and pinch a few bites from the danna's 😂 So guys, take note of the portion size here k!

Lil penguin really enjoyed her meal here too, she had some of mine and the danna's, definitely ate more than her usual portion.

And best part, it was super affordable especially for THAT SIZE!

We didn't get any Okinawan food here but it's okay, it's still traditional Japanese food which i can eat everyday until i die (that's why i'm living in Japan haha), can't get over how fresh their seafood ingredients were (mine had salmon in my rice)

Sakana Ichiba Ichiwa (魚市場いちわ)

Okay finally some Okinawa specialty on the list! Another place we googled because we were randomly driving around that day hopping from one island to another (we crossed Irabu Ohashi Bridge to get here) and this little quiet restaurant facing the sea port looks rather promising because all of their fishes served are freshly caught by fishermen in the area. Also it's family friendly with a tatami dining area, baby chair and feeding utensils provided.

Parking lot is on the port itself, it's free by the way

How many of you have actually tried Okinawa style soba noodles?

Sarahama soba

I seriously had people trying to "school" me when i posted this up on my IG stories, claiming it's udon not soba just because the noodles are thick & pale-ish instead of the usual grey thin strands that we are so used to seeing. I wish i could agree with you guys but unfortunately it IS SOBA and no argument needed because that's Okinawan style soba lol. Remember, you can't argue with the locals here especially when we are considered foreigners to their shores and isn't the point of traveling is to keep an open mind to learn new things :)

Back to the food-

Food ordering is via ticketing system like how we usually order in a ramen store and it's a pretty straightforward process. Their menu serves a variety of donburi (sashimi on rice bowl) and of course my highly recommended dish would be their Sarahama Soba (佐良浜そば) as it is an Irabu Island Speciality. Even if you can't read Japanese, the menu come with pictures so you can easily point them out & they are available in 2 sizes (half bowl or big) which is great for small eaters like me or if you want to order a bit of everything just to share, and trust me it's super affordable.

Tatami space available

Mind you even half bowl i find the portion abit too big, but it was worth stuffing my face and suffocating in my skirt for the day lol.

The food here is amazing because of the freshness and those thick cut of sashimi literally melts in your mouth, as for the Sarahama soba the soup base is rather unique due to the way they marinate their bonito fish, it has a hint of sweetness to it instead of the usual savoury dashi base and they are super generous with their bonito chunks. If this was the island's fishermen's diet, i seriously wouldn't mind having it every day because it's that good and healthy too (not oily). 

Namaribushi (なまり節)

And another dish to not miss out while you are here- their pickled bonito (yes fish everything haha) called Namaribushi (なまり節), even people like me who aren't exactly a big fan of eating alot of rice would go for seconds because of this pickled fish. Can just enjoy rice with namaribushi and my meal for the day is done lol. This pickled fish is only available on Irabu Island and if you like what you eat here, you can actually buy back some of the ingredients as they have a small souvenir shop section at the front part of the restaurant. We immediately bought a pack of their bonito (ready packed to be eaten) because lil penguin loves the soba here as well. 

The marinated bonito used to make Sarahama soba, another regret should have bought at least 3 packets lol.

Hiro-Chan Shokudo (ひろちゃん食堂)

We had our dinner here on our last night of our trip and we were glad we found this small restaurant (super dark to drive around at night as there isn’t much streetlights available), as mentioned above that there aren’t much choices available at the hotel/ resort itself so you gotta search around the area for something more affordable. This restaurant is actually hidden behind a sushi restaurant so you would easily miss it if you didn’t turn in as there isn’t an obvious signboard pointing you towards it lol, there is also parking available right in front of Hiro-chan.

This is a small family-like restaurant with a cozy kampong-like interior that seriously reminds me of home (in Malacca). It might not a place that would likely to turn up on Instagram for bring “instragrammable” but they do serve one of the best home-cooked foods around the island with an affordable price tag.

You can find quite a number of families with young children dining here as they have a tatami dining space (best crawling space for kids) bless them for having it!

Hiro-chan serves all kinds of local dishes ranging from the usual goya champuru, deep fried assortments to island specialty like Miyako soba (this soba is only available in Miyakojima) which is slightly different from the one we had in Irabu island. Miyako soba looks almost like ramen at first glance due to some similarities like the noodles* has a slight yellow tinge to it and uses pork broth, but the giveaway is that it’s topped with a generous slab of pork belly (not your measly thin slices of char siew ya), with red pickled ginger and fishcake; also with no ajitsuke tamago (common ingredient serve with ramen) in sight XD 

Miyako soba

Sounds like a bizarre soba combination and I was honestly reluctant to order it at first until the danna offered to share haha, it was surprisingly yummy! There are definitely many other restaurants around the island serving their own version of Miyako-soba, not only at Hiro-chan Shokudo; just make sure to keep this dish on the list of foods to eat here, must not miss out!
*Okinawa soba despite its name doesn’t contain buckwheat hence the colour difference, theirs is made from wheat flour. It is also said to be derived from Chinese ramen which was an exclusive dish served only in imperial court but now has become a staple comfort food for the locals.

Goya Chanpuru again lol , this trip alone i've eaten more than i did for the past 25+ years. I seriously hated it as a kid especially when my mom cooked it with eggs, but somehow the bittergourd in Okinawa isn't as bitter as i remembered or maybe my tastebuds evolved as an adult?

For those of you who aren't familiar with Okinawa's culture and why their food variation is different from mainland it's because Okinawa wasn't actually considered part of Japan until 1609 and was formally known as an independant country- The Ryukyu Kingdom which was united in 1429 (long history which i promise is interesting and you should read up on it, mine is just a sumerized version lol) and they are considered geographically closer to Taiwan on the map. They have traded with countries like China, Korea and southeast Asia, along with their trades came cultural exchanges as well. It's more prominantly seen in buildings like Shuri Castle (looks exactly like the ones in China), which unfortunately burnt down last year.

Also did you know for Goya Chanpuru, the word "Chanpuru" is actually derived from an Indonesian word "campur" which means "mix". I always joked that it does sound like a katakana pronunciation of "campur" because us Malaysians, we use almost similar words as Indonesians and it is after all a mixed dish 😂 and a quick research online confirmed that lol. Okay case closed!

Spam katsu 😂

And if you are also wondering why Okinawans are so obsessed with SPAM (aka luncheon meat) which originated from US by the way, that they practically include it into most local dishes and that's because during world war 2 (read up on Battle of Okinawa) there were food shortages especially meat supply, so American soldiers would hand out SPAM for the local's food source since it also has a long shelf life. US military occupied Okinawa for nearly 27 years after the war (that's why it still hosts alot of US's military bases even till today) before handing it back to Japan, so that's how this American canned meat became part of Okinawa's Food culture.

P/S: It isn't exactly the most healthiest meat around (heavily processed meat, high in fat & sodium) and ironically Okinawans live the longest in Japan, such a mystery lol.

That's all for part 1 of my Miyakojima blog post, it's actually longer if i cramped in the other half  of it(probably total about 5000-6000 words long) but i have decided not to because along with the pictures, it would take forever to load and read finish lol. This entry alone has exceeded 3000 words and 50+ photos, (omg!) do stay tune for part 2 soon.

Thank you for reading till the end and if you would like to support more of my works, do feel free to buy me a cup of coffee
Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart 💖

Yours Truly,

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