Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Photos by Shoji Kudaka ()

In early spring, I had the chance to visit Mutabaru Observatory, an Okinawan site you may recognize from Netflix series Cobra Kai.

The observatory overlooks Shioya Wan, a quiet bay cutting into Ogimi Village’s west coast, and is the setting for an encounter between two characters from the 1986 Karate Kid film the show spins off from.

As I watched Cobra Kai, not only was I surprised by the success a reboot has garnered, but also by how it picks up some of the tidbits about Mr. Miyagi from the original movie sequel and takes us back to Okinawa. Even hearing some of the local dialect like “Akisamiyo” (what a surprise), “Nankuru naisa” (everything will be all right), and “Nifee deebiru” (Thank you so much), gave me a chuckle.

You’ll see Mutabaru Observatory when characters Daniel LaRusso and Chozen meet again for another spar. This location and other Okinawa spots like Naha Airport and Daisekirinzan appear in Episodes 4 and 5 of Season 3.

The episodes inspired me to go take a look out over the bay for myself. The observatory is one of the best viewing spots of the island. When I visited, the bay looked beautiful under a blue sky, but it also appeared a little different from how it looked in the show. Still, its peaceful mood made perfect sense for the changed relationship between Daniel and Chozen.

It was on a Saturday afternoon, and I was not the only one to go out there to relive the show’s pilgrimage to Okinawa.

“Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s the best view I’ve ever seen on the island. Definitely, especially today. It’s so clear,” said John from Yomitan, who explained that he binge-watched season 3 of Cobra Kai over a three-day period.

“We were just saying, it looks different, the background looks different than we remember,” said the devoted fan. “We’re going to watch it again tonight to see.”

Whether you are with Cobra Kai, Miyagi-do Karate or Eagle Fang — or if you’ve been meaning to catch up on the Netflix hit — a visit to a piece of the series is closer than you thought!

Mutabaru Observatory

GPS Coordinates: N 26.671324, E 128.125552

Free parking space available near the site

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