When you travel of course you hope for good weather. But in typhoon season in Asia, there’s isn’t much you can do but accept that it is probably going to rain.
The forecast for Okinawa wasn’t good, but thankfully we were staying in a hotel that could provide everything we needed for a nice little getaway despite the rain: onsen (hot springs) to soak in, amazing food to eat, cold beers to drink, and some nice parks to walk around in.
Senagajima Onsen is the only true onsen on Okinawa. Being so far removed from mainland Japan means that Okinawa does not suffer the same risk of earthquakes that a place like Tokyo does. But that lack of seismic activity also means that they do not have the same amount of onsen baths available on the island. Some towns in mainland Japan are built entirely on the onsen industry. But in Okinawa, if you want to soak in a true mineral onsen, there is only Senagajima Onsen Hotel.
A stone’s throw from the airport, you could literally almost throw a stone at the planes that pass by, which is why they have triple glazed doors, so amazingly you don’t hear the constant rumble of jets and engines passing overhead while you sleep. If you like watching planes take off and land, this is the place to do it, because the landing strip is right below the hotel.
This was a short trip — only two nights — but we managed to have a lot of fun, when it wasn’t raining. There was a small park nearby with a weird crab slide, and some small stretches of beach where The Kid could pick up shells and get some sand between her toes. There isn’t much on the tiny Senaga island; the restaurants and cafes by the beach all seemed to be closed, as well as a really droll looking ‘sports park’ that seemed to be out of business. The Anpanman bumper cars were still working, though, if you had 100 yen to spare.
Mostly we just chilled in the hotel, went in the beautiful onsen with sea views, and drank cold sake in our own private onsen on the balcony. Not all rooms have a private onsen so make sure you book the right room. You don’t particularly need the private onsen because the big onsen in the lobby is also amazing. But if you want to go together as a couple or a family, be aware the onsen are gender-separated (which is the norm), so it’s nice to have your own onsen to go as a family. The water was a bit salty, coming from a mineral spring, and almost looked a little bit brown, like tea. But it left my skin feeling silky soft. There was just enough room for three in the tub.
The hotel is not in walking distance to downtown Naha but a taxi to town was only about ¥1000 and a ten-minute ride. We went to the nearest monorail station, Akamine, for dinner, and had some amazing food.
The restaurant I’d recommend is called Ibushi Ginjiro and it’s about halfway between Akamine and Oroku monorail stations. You can’t miss the big wooden tower-looking thing at the entrance. Make a reservation because according to the staff it is fully booked every night! The first night we didn’t have a reservation and had to go across the road to the Ebisu restaurant and yakitori, which was also good. But Ibushi Ginjiro was better.