I’m sorry I put off the Okinawa adventures off for so long, everyone. It’s been a long week, and next week’s not going to get any shorter.
But anyway, back to the story:
After much bickering and smack talk about who would be who in which anime series, our intrepid band of 6 finally reached Okinawa. It took most of the day to get to the airport, after which the flight only took 2 hours; but we checked into our hotel where we hung out for the rest of the evening. There was a vending machine on the floor, so I got to try some special Okinawa beer: Orion. I’m not a big fan of beer, but this wasn’t half bad. Still, not something I’d want to drink more than one of at once. Too bitter for me.
The next day we went to Shuri Castle, the historical seat of power for the Ryukyu kingdom (Okinawa was an independent kingdom and a tributary to China before becoming part of Japan. It was partially under renovation, but I still really enjoyed walking around the historical castle grounds.
We also went to Kokusaidori, or the “miracle mile” a mile long street full of gift shops and boutiques. I was confused at how the mile was able to accommodate the amount of repeat merchandise in each store, but they seemed to make it work. Hello Kitty was EVERYWHERE, as were Goya souvenirs (Goya is an Okinawa special, a bitter melon that looks like a warty cucumber) and pork souvenirs (Okinawa is famous for its healthy and tasty pork).
The next day we went beaching! We almost didn’t go because the weather was supposed to turn horrible any second that day, but because we’d wasted so much time debating what to do we had no choice BUT to go to the beach (everything else would be closed by the time we got there). Even though I felt self-conscious in my suit, I still had a wonderful time! Andra, John and I even built a sand castle complete with moat, church, Japanese rock garden, stables, Hagrid’s hut, and secret mountain escape route! Unfortunately, I got sand in all the wrong places (NEVER SIT DOWN WHEN BUILDING A SAND CASTLE) but it was fun nonetheless.
Day 3 had the worst weather by far, but we were still able to cover both Okinawa World (historic Ryukyu theme park) and Okinawa GlassWorks in one day. Okinawa is famous for its glass- especially electric blue “firefly” glass, so it was incredibly interesting to watch these artisans at work. At Okinawa World we were able to see AMAAAZING Taiko performances (see 1st Okinawa post) dangerous habu snakes indigenous to the island. The habu is incredibly venomous, and so is respected–and sometimes brewed in a vat of strong alcohol (ancient Viagra, apparently)! I also got to try Okinawa Soba (prepared with SPARE RIB!) and Champuru (kind of like fried-rice with egg).
The last day we had spent at Murasaki Mura, another Okinawa theme park. This one took 2 hours to reach by bus (there’s only one terminal for all the island of Naha), so I had considerable time to catch up on homework. We passed several military bases on the way, and it made me wonder about Grandpa- if he had been there. The thought was enough to make me a bit homesick.
I was extremely grumpy on the flight home. The combination of spending money and leaving a place I had such a connection to made me cry on the plane, and I had to bury myself in my book just to make it home without wailing or snapping at someone. I’m better now, but truth be told I’d rather be in Okinawa right now.
Pictures will be up soon, hopefully as soon as tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I’m going to post about what I did today (hanami). I’ve just got too much work to do. BAH!