Navigating around Okinawa


Hi-tech GPS navigation systems are increasingly commonplace these days – although I still don’t own one. In fact, I’ve had just one experience with them in my life, which I remembered when I stumbled across this photo.

In 2002 I spent a few days on Okinawa and got a rental car as part of the package. This rental car had a very helpful navigation system. It was very helpful for two reasons:

  1. It spoke loudly in Japanese, which I could barely understand at the time, although I could at least understand “migi” and “hidari” (right and left). Worse was my reading ability in Japanese, so I couldn’t find any option that might have got it speaking in English.
  2. When it spoke (when “she” spoke, I should say. I can still remember her voice) it gave instructions, continuously, on how to return to the car hire shop. It took me the first couple of days to realise that’s where it was trying to direct us, and until the last day to work out how to turn the insanely annoying voice off. Shortly after, we actually wanted to return to the car hire place, but she wouldn’t tell us how.

So for me the jury’s still out on this kind of technology. I’m sure it’s useful to the traveller, just not in another language. The good news is that despite this intensely irritating voice in the car, I really enjoyed my time in Okinawa.

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