From far away, it looks like a bridge stretching 5 kilometers over the ocean, connecting Okinawa main island and Henza island. More specifially, it’s a road built 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 see in the Okinawa Map.
Kaichu Doro is where my journey in Okinawa started. My first month in Okinawa was spent inside a small flat house on Hanza island. The lifestyle on Hanza island is exactly what you would expect living on a small tropical island, quiet, slow, and lazy. There is no grocery store on Hanza. However, there is a Lawson (convenience store), a fish market, a few local cafes, possibly one of the smallest post offices in Okinawa, and a police officer that oversees everything on Hanza island and three neighboring islands. That’s pretty much it.
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. I then proceeded to look around and I spotted a few others. All standing in the water. I also noticed there were many small rocks appearing out of nowhere. It was the first time I saw so many rocks on the water, small as the size of an egg and 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 were now exposed. Those who stood in the water were looking for small fish trapped in small puddles of 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 lanes. It is now a popular tourist spot in Okinawa.
You may find yourself asking, how did the islanders travel to Okinawa main island before the construction of Kaichu Doro?
No, I’m not kidding. Residents of Hanza island used to walk five kilometers to the main island during low tide and they would pick up shellfish along the way. When the water would rise, they would 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. In fact, there are only a handful of people in Okinawa who can make them. The man who works in the only gas station on Hanza island told me there were still so many water taxis back in the 60s. You can see them in 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
If you 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 spots, 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 I prepared for you below. Make a trip to Kaichu Doro. It’s one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in Okinawa. Make sure to 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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Where to Buy The Map
The Okinawa maps are sold in a number of locations in Okinawa, please find a store near you to buy the map. If you live outside of Okinawa or if you want to send a map to your friends and family, we can ship the map to anywhere outside of Okinawa.
**The information in this article is written by the designer of the Okinawa Story Map based personal experience. It does not aim to be 100% accurate or academically correct. Please enjoy the stories and feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this article.