Okinawa is so full of pretties and wonderful things to do. Sometimes the most underrated places are the best. If you like nature, petting animals, and organic food, the Southeast Botanical Gardens is for you. Check out this site and see what amusement awaits.
I recommend going for lunch. The package price for lunch and garden admittance is ¥2,500. At the Peace Restaurant you can sink your teeth into traditional Okinawan food like pig feet, in addition to Japanese cuisine like shabu shabu. Most of the food items are organic and there are plenty of vegetarian friendly options. They also make fresh juices for your palatal pleasure!
Make a reservation
If you make one, ask for the seats in the back of Peace so you can get a lovely view of the garden. After all, there’s nothing like lunch and a view. Summer in Okinawa is incredibly hot; therefore, visiting the gardens during late October is prime.
Pet the capybaras, squirrel monkeys and goats
The capybara is the largest rodent in the world and probably the friendliest giant rat around. They have webbed feet, feel like hay, and roll over like a dog so you can rub their belly. For ¥100 you can buy cabbage to feed the capybaras and squirrel monkeys. While the capybaras are calm and collected, the monkeys are not. Be aware they will jump on you and it can be alarming.
While the capybaras and squirrel monkeys are the best, the goats and pigs are also friendly and welcome treats. The time I went, there was even a contest to name the piglets. What I enjoyed most about the gardens is there isn’t hoards of people around. You can easily enjoy a stroll without the crowds. This place is amazing for friends, family or social events!
You need to have a strong selfie game because the monkeys will dig through your cabbage cup, and with their precise fingers, grab the bread crumbs. You don’t have very long until they move onto their next victim so be quick! Even though I’m giving fair warning, nothing compares to the experience of this soft fuzzy animal leaping on your shoulders. It’s definitely unexpected and you don’t see it coming.
As for the capybara, this gentle beast will slowly come up to you and wait to munch on the cabbage. All loose items should be put away because the capybara could eat it and the monkeys might take it.
If you’re interested in the Southeast Botanical Gardens, visit their website here. They offer guidance in Chinese, English and Korean. Their staff and friendly and can speak English. Check out my video from the gardens to see what you can expect.
How to get there: