First night on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa
On the way, there were some stunning views of the clouds and sea. The blue water was so clear you could see the bottom perhaps 7 meters deep or maybe more, even with the cloud cover.
The package that Eiko booked included a night at the Hotel Best Inn. While I don't think it lives up to its name, it's clean and has a free internet terminal among a number of decent little amenities, so I'm not able to complain (despite a bit of a damp moldy smell in the hall). They even provide some funny yukatas that look a bit like hospital gowns.
Everyone we've come across so far has been really helpful and friendly, and the food was great at the restaurant we went to. Originally we were headed for Iso, recommended by the Rough Guide to Japan for its picture menu and local food, but when we arrived, we ended up opting for another place just a few doors down called South Wind (translated) due to its rustic island atmosphere and similar, if not better pricing. One of the highlights was the yummy squid ink rice, and another was what they call sea grapes, served with long shreds of daikon radish. Mmmm. :)
After a filling and delicious dinner, we checked out a few of the shops down the street. One thing you're sure to see here are shisa - sculpted little (or sometimes big) pairs of fiery lions that are believed by some to protect your home or shop.
I'll update this post later with a few more details once I get back to Tokyo on Saturday evening - we're planning to have some adventures on Iriomote and Kayama islands where there's little access to internet. Ciao for now!