From far away, it looks like a bridge stretch 5 kilometers across the ocean, connecting Okinawa main island and Henza island. It is a road build on top of the shallow seabed – Kaichu Doro. In Japanese, it means “the road in the sea”.
Kaichu Doro (source:http://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/639)
The central part of Kaichu Doro is a suspension bridge with a giant red pillar supporting the weight of the bridge. That’s what you in the Okinawa Map.
Kaichu Doro is where my journey in Okinawa started. My first month in Okinawa was spent on a small flat house in Hanza island. Lifestyle on Hanza island is exactly what you will expect living on a small tropical island, quiet, slow, and lazy. There is no grocery store on Hanza. A Lawson (convenience store), a fish market, a few local cafes, possibly one of the smallest post office in Okinawa, and a police officer and oversee everything in Hanza island and three neighboring islands, that’s pretty much it.
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I used to walk along Kaichu Doro, and one day I found something interesting. As I was having my routine morning walk, I saw a man standing in the middle of the ocean. Looked around, I found a few others. All standing on the water. I also notice there are many small rocks appear out of nowhere. It was the first time I saw so many rocks on the water, small as the size of an egg, big as the size of a pickup truck. As I got closer to the water, I realized it was low tide, so low that the surface of the ocean is only about 6 inches from the seabed, and many rocks on the seabed are now exposed. Those who stood in the water were looking for small fish trapped in small puddle or water.
Can you see people standing in the sea?
During the month living in Hanza, I learned that Kaichu Doro was built to serve a construction of an oil storage facility in Hanza island. The original Kaichu Doro contracted in the 70s only had only two lanes, mainly for transportation of oil and building materials. Later in the 90s, Kaichu Doro expanded to four lines, and it is now a popular tourist spot in Okinawa.
You may ask, how did the islanders travel to Okinawa main island before the construction of Kaichu Doro?
No kidding. Residents of Hanza island used to walk five kilometers to the main island during low tide, and they pick up shellfish along the way. When the water rises, they use the water taxi to commute back. A water taxi is the type of boat dated back to Ryukyu kingdom. It was the most popular way to move people and goods around Okinawa. You don’t see these boats on the water anymore, and there are only a handful of people in Okinawa who can make them. The man who works in the only gas station in Hanza island told me there were still so many water taxis back in the 60s You can see them on the Ocean Culture Museum located on the second floor of the service station in the middle of Kaichu Doro.
A handmade water taxi model built by the gentleman who works at the gas station in Hanza island
Follow Kaichu Doro towards Hanza island, you will be led to a narrower road. Along this road all the way to the end, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches, scenic spot, and one of the four best scenic views in Okinawa, in the garden of Nuchimasu, a salt factory.
The view in the back of Nuchimasu
Follow the map below I prepare for you. Make a trip to Kaichu Doro. It’s one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in Okinawa. Try the sea salt ice-cream in the service station, and go snorkeling in Oodomari beach.
A Sightseeing Map of Kaichu Doro Area. Click on each icon for details
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