After arriving at Cape Hedo, the most northern tip of the long, scraggly island that is Okinawa, after being awed and amazed at the incredible natural landscape and beautiful scenery, you will no doubt look up, squint into the sun and say, ‘Wait…. What the f*** is that?’
I am referring to one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in Okinawa… or even all of Japan. A giant bird thing on the top of a mountain, that seems to be there for no particular reason at all.
Well… there is a reason, I suppose — the bird is a kuina, an endemic and endangered species of Okinawa, found only in the northern part of the island. So of course, we had to go see what this big bird was all about.
Cape Hedo is literally the end of the road, as far as you can drive on the island. For us, coming from Naha in the south, it was a long drive of just over two hours. But totally worth it. The scenery is amazing, every turn reveals a sweeping bay of crashing waves and pristine water, and tiny traditional villages where the residents have the world record for longevity, thanks to their lifestyle and diet. From the cape we had a clear view of Yoron Island in the distance and nothing else but ocean as far as the eye could see.
With one road in and one road out, the northern tip of Okinawa feels like a step back in time, where tiny towns reveal what life used to be like, before the war, before Western influence. And indeed there is nothing much in this area — the expressway deposits you into the city of Nago and once you keep driving north it’s just fishing villages. It’s really a great escape and a good day trip.
Food wise, there is a restaurant at Cape Hedo serving some food, though everyone there was eating zenzai or ice cream. In Kunigami there is a great Michi no Eki or Roadside Station with a full restaurant serving local food. And Nago is full of restaurants. So even though you’re going to the end of the road, there are lots of yummy things to eat along the way.