As much as I love being from Tokyo, this city has half my heart. Maybe because it explains why I don’t look stereotypically Japanese, or because it’s home – despite never having lived there, it carries a feeling of nostalgia. If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, I would highly recommend stopping by the island of Okinawa for palm trees, beaches and delicious food.
Not many people know this, but my father’s side is from Okinawa. While all of my cousins, paternal grandmother, aunts and uncles live there, we don’t get to visit very often because it involves a flight that doesn’t always fit into our busy schedules. Despite not having been there in a few years, this city always feels like home. I truly got the best of both worlds with a mother from Tokyo and a father from Okinawa.
This past winter break, we got to go back because my eldest cousin was getting married – and I was overjoyed to get to go back to the city I love so dearly (…also cause my cousin was getting married). I highly recommend eating the local cuisine because you can get dishes here you don’t get in other cities in Japan, like Okinawa soba. There’s a comfortable feeling being here, a slower pace of life – they even have their own dialect that’s more like a completely different language. Despite being able to speak Japanese, I occasionally had to nod and pretend to laugh at my uncle’s jokes (I’m sorry, I love you, but its not my fault no one taught me Okinawan!)
Everytime we go, we visit the Churaumi Aquarium because they have this amazing display of god-knows-what kind of shark (I know, I’m awful. You’d think after coming to this aquarium a thousand times I would know). There’s also a beach right next to the aquarium that you can swim in during the summer months.
As someone who grew up moving to different countries, I never really know where home is. Sure, I identify as Japanese, and while I love my country, there are times when I know I don’t always belong there, or anywhere else. Being back with my extended family on my father’s side made me realize that while its cliché, home doesn’t always have to be a physical place. I have cousins that feel like the older sisters I always wanted, and a family that made me feel welcome despite not seeing them for years.
Our flight was early Sunday morning, so we tried to leave without disturbing anyone because we didn’t want to have to wake them up. The next thing we knew, the entire fam-bam was dropping us off at the airport, because that’s just what family does. It was hard to get on the plane not knowing when I’d see them again, but I have a weird feeling that it’ll be soon, and I’ll be back before I know it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog post and I’ll be posting more soon!