Meeting Cats in Japan – Okinawa version –
Okinawa is a popular resort destination that attracts many visitors, not only from mainland Japan, but also from abroad.
While there are many ways to enjoy Okinawa, including marine activities, fine scenery, and delicious food, we feature Okinawa from a different viewpoint by introducing the “Cats of Okinawa,” who I, a cat lover, met on my trip.
For more details about Okinawa see: https://att-japan.net/en/archives/category/okinawa
Around Kokusai-dori Street, Naha CityAlthough the area around Kokusai-dori Street is best known as being the biggest entertainment district in Okinawa, once you walk into one of little back alleys behind the tourist-filled main street, you will see cats relaxing here and there.
Heiwa-dori Shopping Street
Mascot cats at Kakazu Shokai near Makishi Public Market.
*Due to construction, Makishi Public Market will be in operation at a temporary market until March 2022.
Tsuboya Yachimun-dori Street
A street with a gentle slope, lined with Okinawan yachimun pottery studios and shops. On this street, with its traditional feel, you can come across many cats.
Immediately upon looking up, I could see a cat relaxing at the bottom of a statue of shisa – a guardian deity of Okinawa.
A statue of a parent and child shisa. The expression of the child shisa is adorable.
Another cat in the doorway of the climbing kiln.
As you can see, the table at which people relax was serving as a playground for kittens.
A local person who happened to pass by told me that “cat” in the Okinawan language is “mayaa.”
A hidden shisa in an old stone wall.
A lovely display at the shop.
The shops on the street were selling cat-shaped yachimun pottery. I could tell that the local people love cats.
Tsuboya Yachimun-dori Street
The mascot cat of “mimuri,” which sells fabric products made using original textiles.
The shop’s chief cat is fast asleep – even with people passing closely by.
The feline staff member is helping.
There was another cat at a different shop.
Scratching the door mat. I wonder how the cat can get away with it…
When I was taking photos, another cat from the back came close to me and let me pet her.
There are also cats on busy Kokusai-dori Street. In front of a convenience store, a cat was enjoying the cool air from an air conditioner.
Umikaji Terrace Senagajima, Naha CityA resort facility that opened in 2015 on Senaga Island, which is about 15 minutes by car from Naha Airport. There are many shops selling Okinawan products, as well as restaurants and cafes.
On the corner at a place with lots of people waiting for the sunset, a cat was leisurely grooming him(her)self while enjoying the sea breeze.
Umikaji Terrace Senagajima
Sefa-Utaki, in Nanjo CityThe most sacred place in Utaki, where rituals were held during the Ryukyu Kingdom era. Since the ascent is very steep and slippery, it is recommended to wear good walking shoes.
You can see Kudaka Island, which is known as the island of God.
A mascot cat at a parlor near Sefa-Utaki.
The cat was sleeping so peacefully and comfortably.
Bize’s Street Lined with Fukugi in Motobu TownA recommended spot, which you can walk to from Churaumi Aquarium. “Fukugi” trees – said to bring happiness – line the street, acting as a windbreak for the village and providing some shade, which makes it a nice place to take a stroll in a relaxing atmosphere.
As I was enjoying the light filtering through the trees while walking down the street, I again encountered a cat.
Being a slow walker, it took me about 20 minutes to walk along the fukugi-lined street. It is recommended to get on a water buffalo carriage or rent a bicycle.
Cape Manzamo in Onna VillageA scenic spot in Onna Village – one of the best resorts in Okinawa. This cape is also famous for its cliff with a raised coral reef, which resembles an elephant trunk.
It is attractive in a different way from a beach.
In the corner of a parking lot where large buses are constantly coming and going – natural for a popular sightseeing spot – cats were relaxing.
Without a care for the scenic view.
Kouri Island in Nakijin VillageA small island, which is accessible via a bridge that connects it with the main island of Okinawa. The beach is one of the most beautiful in Okinawa.
A kitten near Kouri Beach.
I found that many cats seemed to be very gentle and relaxed in Okinawa. Perhaps this is because of the warm climate – even in winter, it can reach 20 degrees Celsius. On your sightseeing trip in Okinawa, you can enjoy not only the beautiful views, but also receive healing comfort from the local cats.
*The information herein is as of March 2020.