The winter vocabulary of the majority of Japan residents doesn’t include the color turquoise. Or aquamarine, azure or the somewhat intellectually pompous “cerulean.” This, however, is the palette I attempt to describe with my husband as we turn our tiny rental car onto the bridge leading to Kouri Island, a tiny speck just off the northern coast of Okinawa’s Motobu Peninsula.

Sea foam, teal, cobalt … we mull over more hues of blue as we travel the 2-kilometer bridge, the longest such structure in Okinawa. In a prefecture known for its stunning seascapes, the shifting color scheme in the small channel that separates Motobu’s Yagaji Island from this tiny outpost of a few hundred souls recently became one of the most photographed and fawned over. Coming as we are from the gray concrete of Japan’s capital, the starburst of blue is admittedly mesmerizing.

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