Explore uncharted territory, Okinawan traditions on Izena Island
Izena Island, one of the smaller islands that comprise the Ryukyu Island chain, is only a 55-minute ferry ride from northern Okinawa — but the island seems like it was frozen in time, due mainly to the way in which its residents preserve the traditional Okinawan way of life.
The island’s population is small, about 1,500 residents, and the island’s entire perimeter totals just 10 miles. For those looking to escape the larger crowds of Naha or Okinawa City, Izena provides an easy getaway for anyone in search of adventure — or simply a weekend away from home.
The relatively new Ferry Izena, which shuttles visitors to the island twice a day, departs from Unten Port, located about a 30-minute drive from the nearby city of Nago. Round-trip tickets for adults and children are available, and cars can also be brought onto the ferry for an additional fee based on the vehicle’s size.
On my ferry ride to Izena, I decided to stay outside to enjoy the view and sea breeze. The ride across the water offers the chance to see sea turtles swimming alongside the ferry, or schools of flying fish jumping out of the water.