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Ginoza Village: Okinawas diamond in the rough

Date Posted: 2012-06-22

Ginoza Village prides itself on being a healthy, vibrant central Okinawan community that extends its hospitality to everyone, without being a flamboyant or pushy place.

Tiny Ginoza, population just over 5,000, communes with nature, and welcomes visitors who want to get away from the rat race and learn about the island culture and the people. It’s located on the central east coast of Okinawa’s main island, the village declaring they are ‘Tenpusu’, meaning navel in the Okinawan dialect. It’s never been a tourism Mecca, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the way.

The G-8 Summit conducted in Okinawa in 2000 was in Nago City, just across the island from Ginoza, and Italy’s then-prime minister, Giuliano Amato visited Ginoza Village, and concluded a sister-city affiliation between Ginoza Village and Pescia City, Italy. He set in place a replica of the famous “The Mouth of Truth” or “Bocca Della Verita” of Rome at a supermarket that sells local products and local specialties of Ginoza Village, called “Mirai Ginoza” as sign of friendship and mingling.

As a general rule, Ginoza Village promotes itself as a place with lots of nature to be experienced. There are a lot of things such as famous local specialties made with local ingredients grown in the village, as well as special experience programs. Since the village is located close to the ocean, fresh fish and shellfish are available direct from local fishermen. Ginoza village is called “The water, greens and sunshine village”.

Although Ginoza doesn’t really count itself as a tourism center, it really is a place to mark on the calendar for multiple visits. Really! There are a lot of festivals held at the village this year, including the Kanna Dam Festival, Ginoza Village Festival that is held once every two years, and more.

Ginoza has declared this year as “Festival year”. A Sea Festival will be held in August and Ginoza Village Festival held in October. Another remarkable festival is Kanna Dam Festival coming in July. For the Kanna Dam Festival, visitors can get involved and experience many programs such as making marine crafts, Shisa making, original sandal making and canoe riding, all for free! Numbered tickets will be distributed before start the fest, and people who get the tickets experience the programs.

A member of Ginoza Tourism Promotion Council, Hayato Nakama, says the lines form early, starting well before 9 a.m., and the tickets will be used up soon. In addition, each district of Ginoza village will hold festivals.

There’s also a golf course with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean¸ the Ginoza Country Club. There are also shopping opportunities for craft products, processed foods and fresh farm products harvested in Ginoza Village, In the Mirai Ginoza, restaurants and parlors are placed side by side, so, you can eat the village’s original dishes made with local ingredients. The replica of the Mouth of Truth is also at the Mirai Ginoza, as is a flea market every Saturday and Sunday.

Ginoza has its own Tourism Promotion Council, and it’s a creative bunch. One of the recent innovations is the “Ginoza Burger” launched as a part of village revitalization. The Ginoza Burger is local gourmet specialty made with local ingredients and the combined ingenuity of village restaurateurs. Nakama, notes the “Ginoza Burger is sold in five restaurants at events or festivals in many parts of Okinawa, including industry festivals.

Canna Resort Villa, features the original Ginoza Burger on its restaurant menu. The resort is one of top class resort facilities in Okinawa, a lodging facility, with all rooms resort villa types built on a theme of “healing”. It has beautiful pool that fronts on the beach, a chapel and a restaurant where Ryukyu’s special dishes are featured.

Canna Resort Villa serves guests Southern island style, with all of 30 guest rooms villas that make a big point about private space and large covered canopy beds only a few feet away from a fantastic ocean view from the balcony. For socializing, enjoy barbecue at ocean view poolside. Expect perfection at breakfast, the best lunch and ultimately, dinner. There is Café Terrier in the daytime, a locale that transforms to bar lounge by night. There is also a chapel, fitness gym, shops, and relaxation massage, as well as a hall suitable for parties, complete with a stage. It’s perfect for weddings, welcomes and farewells, and just about any special idea one can come up with.

Kayoko Ikeda, a member of the resort’s planning staff, invites visitors to “Please spend a great time in Ginoza Village with the best nature in Okinawa, and after that, check out our Canna Resort Villa “ Further information’s available at (098) 968-7011, or on the internet at www.cannaresort.co.jp.

For fun that’s also educational, visitors should try to experience nature programs
available in Ginoza village. Programs are divided between year-around programs and limited season offer programs. From January to May, strawberry picking is possible, where you can pick strawberries and can eat them on the spot; All-You-Can –Eat for 30 minutes. From June to October, experience sugar cane harvesting. Harvest sugar cane then make juice and brown sugar, taking the brown sugar home as a souvenir.

From July to August, making Pineapple jam is a fun experience. Harvest pineapple, then try the taste and make pine jam. Take one pineapple and one pine jam bottle home as a souvenir.

There are year-around programs offered for individuals, and for family or friends such as making Okinawa soba made from flour to soba-noodle, or making an original plaster Shisa, shaping to coloring by yourself, choosing your favorite pattern and then decorating. Adventurous? Try riding a sea-kayak along a river where mangroves grow wild. Something more different? Try walking a shallow sea of coral reef, or riding a Dragon boat, and taking a Nordic Walk with a guide explaining the village’s cultural properties and local specialties.
Nakama says “The programs are not always enough in English, but we will go the extra mile so foreigners can enjoy the programs more and more! Of course, we welcome foreigners even now.”

Aside from Canna Resort Villas, there aren’t too many large facilities in the village. There is one, though, “Kanna Thalasso Okinawa”, a relaxation place for “Thalasso-Therapie”. The facility gets its name from “Thalasso, meaning the sea, or ocean in Greek, and “Therapie, therapy in French. It features a large Jacuzzi bath using natural ocean water. On the second floor is the Barde Zone with 14 kinds of Jacuzzi and a sauna. The Jacuzzis’ temperatures are set for each effect or purpose, and it’s all warm ocean water.

There is also a water-slide, so families can play as leisure facility. Various programs such as recovering from fatigue, keeping fit, stress relief and more are available. Families with even tiny babies can enter the bath and use the facility. For those small fry, baby needs are met; “Baby Swimmer is like a nappy for swimming, a special swimwear worn over the baby swimmer. Even people with tattoos can use the facility.

There’s also a Treatment Zone on the third floor where guests can refresh with treatment courses available by appointment. The chief of the service section, Hiromi Shimabukuro, notes “You can refresh and relax with all of your family.

The Barde Zone is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with last entry at 9 p.m. The treatment zone is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed on the year-end and New Year holidays and the second Tuesday of every month. The facility will be closed for occasional maintenance, and on typhoon days.

Some guest houses that are located near beaches can take your order of barbecue set and meat. Ginoza Village is on the way to Camp Schwab from Camp Hansen. The quaint village offers special times for exploring Okinawa with your family and friends.

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