Information for members attending the CFA Seminars at the Okinawa Budokan.
Traveling to Japan
Flights have been organized so that most members will arrive at Narita Airport, Tokyo, together (regardless of their point of departure). I'm also trying to have everybody seated in the same section on the flight to Naha.
The flight to Okinawa from Tokyo takes around 2.5 hours, and we will be waiting for you with our bus at the airport to transport you to your hotel, and check you in. The journey from Naha International Airport to the central city takes about 20 min. so everyone should be in bed by midnight, (assuming that you want to be!).
The first day after arrival in Naha I usually take first-time visitors on a tour of the city so they understand where the Budokan is in relation to our hotel, how to use the monorail, where to shop, etc. We also visit the two shopping centers, “Main Place” at Shinto Shin in central Naha, and Jusco at Oroku. In the afternoon I recommend that members visit the Okinawa Prefectural Museum close to the San Ei shopping complex in central Naha, and Shuri Castle, the former home of the Okinawan Kings, which is close to the last station on the monorail line.
We train every day from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and then from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Each seminar is taught by a different senior instructor (8th Dan and above) with assistants. You should take plenty of drinking water to the dojo, and a clean towel because even in the Spring and Autumn, while the temperature might not be much higher than 80°F, (26ºC) the humidity is oppressive and you will sweat. It is very easy to become dehydrated, so I recommend that you drink far more water than you feel you need to avoid problems which might stop you enjoying the training, and your visit to Okinawa.
Training is polite but comfortably informal. There is little if any military style “drilling” and the atmosphere is very much University rather than High School. Our instructors like to teach a few students at a time in depth, at most a small group of 3-5, which is why they bring multiple teaching assistants. They teach with great precision and care, and quite often with humour!
For lunch on training days, there are small restaurants, convenience stores, and fast food places within walking distance of the Budokan. There is also ample time to visit the food court at the Jusco Center in Oroku, one stop on the monorail from Onoyama Koen, the station closest to the dojo. Here they offer American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese food, and there is also a bakery, Mister Donut coffee shop, Starbucks, etc. A large supermarket and pharmacy are to be found in the basement of the complex.
There are so many choices of places to dine in Naha, it’s difficult to decide where to go. Prices range from ¥450 for a simple wholesome meal, with almost no upper limit if you eat in the fashionable restaurants of the big hotels.
Some of my favorite eating places are: Yoshinoya-curried rice around ¥350. Cheap, quick, and filling. Indian Cafe-curry, naan, and cold beer in Sakurazaka, one of Naha’s most “colorful” districts, ¥650. Kan Sha En Chinese restaurant (close to hotel) modestly priced, modest appearance and decor, truly excellent food! Dinner ¥1,000. Italian Tomato-remarkably good pasta and salads ¥700. Zuppa-Italian trattoria style food, ambitious menu, decent wine, ¥1500. Cafe 501 - unpretentious “New Age” cuisine ¥2,500; Sam’s by the Sea-ample portions of Hawaiian style steak and seafood, great cocktails, reasonably priced European beers, and excellent service. Sam's has a number of locations (see photo right) several on Kokusai Dori. My favorite is at Oroku near the airport (best mulligatawny soup in Japan). ¥3,000 .
We stay in the Kokusai Dori, (International Street) area, the epicenter of Naha’s restaurant/entertainment district. The 1.5 mile boulevard is lined with bars, restaurants, pubs, steakhouses, izakaya, barbeque grills, and ethnic Okinawan eateries, as well as shops selling everything from cheap souvenirs to expensive designer clothing.
Okinawan food is an acquired taste - principally by Okinawans. They eat lots of pork and noodles, and it’s not unknown for this to be washed down with glasses of potent 90 proof Awamori. The fact they remain the longest living race on earth is quite remarkable under the circumstances.
Please make sure that you have some Japanese currency when you arrive in Okinawa. It’s usually advantageous to obtain this from your own bank rather than Bureau de Change which tend to be expensive. Japan in general, and Okinawa in particular, are “cash economies,” credit cards are used much less than in the West. This being the case, a cash reserve is always useful.
The most convenient way of changing money in Okinawa is to use a debit card issued by your own bank. With a PIN number and you can go to any post office, airport, or shopping complex and withdraw up to ?50,000 in any one day from an ATM machine. The exchange rate is very reasonable, the machines are open 24 hours, and the withdrawals will show up on your regular bank statement.
Okinawans have been known for centuries as a hospitable, friendly, and helpful people. They genuinely care about the welfare of the guests, and want you to enjoy their island, and their unique culture. WE want you to enjoy training with some of the finest and most talented karate masters in the world, in the unique atmosphere of the Budokan.
We hope you’ll take home with you happy memories of your visit to the island where karate was born, and which has been known for many centuries as the Land of Propriety.
Mensore-Welcome to Okinawa!
1. Asato station on the Naha elevated monorail system (Yui Rail). Trains are frequent, clean, comfortable, and easy to use. (Everything is automated). Trains start at the airport (southernmost rail station in Japan) and end at Shuri, the old capital city.
2. The Prefectural Budokan, Okinawa's national martial arts facility, sits on the edge of Onoyama Park, close to the East China Sea. Its unique design, when viewed from a distance, creates the impression of a dragon resting in a grassy field.
3.On Sundays, Kokusai Dori becomes a pedestrian precinct full of street performers like this juggler of burning torches outside Sam's Sailor Inn. Not to be missed are the amazing performances of the Okinawan Eisa drummer/dancers.
4.Teaching is personal and intense. Here Sarah Morse (Canada) with Kuba Sensei, experiences first hand the muscle contraction and expansion that creates the dynamic power unleashed by Goju Ryu exponents.
5. The Great Hall of Shuri Castle.
6. Tama Udun the mausoleum of the Kings that ruled Okinawa from 1429 - 1879.
Image at top of page: The East China Sea as viewed from Manza Beach