This morning, while I was sitting in Starbucks reading my book on Okinawa, an older lady who was sat beside me got up, and came back with two cups of water. The next thing I knew she had put one on my table and said 'どうぞ' ('there you are' or 'please go ahead and drink'). Her name was Nakasone Toyoko, and she lived just outside Naha, where she's lived for a lot of her adult life. She was born and grew up on Miyako-jima, one of the islands of the Yaeyama, in the southern part of Okinawa, before moving to Tokyo for work. We chatted about Naha and Okinawa, and during this conversation she mentioned that she'd found a single cherry tree in blossom, just around the corner. She said that it's early even for here, where it's warm all year round, as some of the flowers were already out of bud.

I then asked her about good places to eat, and she started telling me about a place very close by, just off 国際通り (Kokusai Street, the main shopping street in Naha) called むつみ (Mutsumi), a place that's been around since 1958, serving their ¥500 (£4) daily-changing lunch dish. She offered to take me there, via the park around the corner, so I could see the cherry tree. Not being one to resist the offer of being shown somewhere new to eat, I accepted, and we left.

Sure enough, along one side of the small dilapidated park, there was a single dark pink cherry tree. And cats, lots of wild cats around the place. She offered me some satsumas and green tea, to take back with me.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the main street, and around the corner to the little eatery. Today's lunch dish was sukiyaki; meat, tofu and vegetables, cooked in water in a pan, and eaten by dipping into raw egg first. The portion size was large, and afterwards, because the old lady knew the owner, we were given iced coffee. A great place to know, and I'll certainly be back! As for Nakasone-san, well she apparently goes to Starbucks five times a week, so I've no doubt I'll meet her there again.