When I was living back in the United States there were times when my family would take weekend trips to New Hampshire. To be completely honest these trips were not much fun for me because we would rent a little house or cabin and basically conduct life as we would at home only we would be in New Hampshire. There’s not much vacation happening when you’re doing the dishes and going grocery shopping just in a different place you know?
Anyway, the one thing that I did enjoy about those trips (aside from mini gold at Hobo Rail Road) was the mountains and particularly this one time when we stayed at this place where there was a stream near the, what I want to refer to as, mini food court.
Okinawa is very mountainous although in some areas it does not seem so because of the development of cities. However, if you want to see mountains during your time here in Okinawa you’re going to want to head north. There are mountains not far beyond Kadena but if you want to really get into the mountain ranges you’re going to want to head all the way to Route 70 or Route 2.
I will admit that making the trip up to Route 70 or Route 2 is long. Even if you so choose to take the expressway you are going to find yourself driving for the better part of the day and as you approach Route 7 and Route 2 you will find yourself away from what you are familiar with in the south central parts of the island so I highly recommend that you bring yourself some snacks or even lunch. Also you are going to need a full tank of gas and I also recommend bringing some yen in the event that you need to top off at a station that does not take credit cards.
Once you arrive in the northern part of the island you have a few options. The first is to drive through the various cities and towns which is a great way to see the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. The second is not for the faint of heart and involves taking the mountain roads. I have driven through the city roads hundreds of times, all of which were worth the drive but this time it was time for more of an adventure.
We started off in Ogimi Village which is known for being where many of Okinawa’s oldest people live. Here people live well into their 100’s and have very active lives. A bit of exploring and intuition lead us up some mountain roads. As we traveled on we ended up in an area which is protected because of the amount of endangered species which inhabit the area.
We continued to press on until we found ourselves on one of many small overgrown mountain roads. This is one of Okinawa’s least visited places which is no wonder because the roads are very small and not clearly marked.
As you move through the narrow roads you will find yourself using extreme caution. At times the road is less than one car’s width with special sections of the roads designed to let oncoming traffic pass. There are also areas where extreme caution is needed because of the cliffside right off the road’s median. These are not the only dangers. You might also find yourself in the midst of some residual damage from past storms. During our trip we encountered many landslides. Two of these landslides came down from the cliffside above taking up the entire road. One had actually damaged the road as the earth below crumbled away.
As we progressed towards the end of our trip we finally found ourselves in the middle of the mountains. Here it is so quite that you can hear the water trickling in a stream below. There are no other people who travel these roads and you are so far away from society that you can not hear anything but the sounds of nature and silence.
As amazing as this trip was for my husband and I this is not a trip for everyone. If you intend on making this type of trip there are some very important things that you should keep in mind. These roads are very far away from assistance of any kind. There is also very little cell phone reception and during the entire trip we were unable to utilize and GPS on either cell phone that we had with us. For this reason I would highly recommend that you take with you a vehicle that is in good repair and/or have supplies that you might need (like a spare tire) to ensure you can take care of any situations that may arise. Finally bring yourself some snacks and drinks because you will be far away from any shops or restaurants. Also again use extreme caution. These roads are dangerous and require your complete and undivided attention while driving. Be safe and as always enjoy your trip.