An enjoyable experience is worth repeating. So when I finished teaching a two-week Summer Intensive at a university in Tokyo and was ready to return home to Okinawa, I decided to again take the ferry from Kagoshima as I had done the year before.

I did, however, make a couple of variations. Last year, I traveled on the Marix Line ferry Queen Coral 8, but this year I booked a passage on the A-Line ferry Akebono. And last year I sailed all the way home to Naha aboard the ferry, but this year I disembarked at Motobu, on the north end of Okinawa Honto (main island) and stayed a couple of nights in this quiet seaside town before going back to the city.

The Marix and A-Line ferries sail on alternate days from Kagoshima Port, at the south end of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. They follow the same route, and both stop at four islands in the Amami Group — Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu and Yoronto — as well as Motobu and Naha, Okinawa. The A-Line also sails to Amami Oshima and Naha from Tokyo and Osaka.