We headed for the islands on a Saturday morning and traveled most of the day; Fukue (my neighboring island, which HAS an airport!) to Fukuoka, and Fukuoka to Naha on Okinawa island. We stayed the evening in Naha at this fantastic little hostel and spent the next day exploring the main island and enjoying the slow life of another island.
Our first big sight seeing adventure was the Shuri castle ruins and former Ryukyu islands emperors home. These grounds were very spread out and contained many old buildings and relics which helped us visitors to take a peek into what life might have been like back then. This woman (yes, we think this is a woman after much debate though) was exhibiting a traditional Okinawan folk dance for the crowd of tourists. It is quite possibly the s l o w e s t dance i have ever witnessed. Painful and beautiful at the same time and she was accompanied by traditional shamisen players. A nice peek into the past.
The castle itself was home to 10 or so emperors of the Okinawan islands, which were back then their own little entity and not technically part of Japan. So while these people are proud Japanese people, their history is rich and separate from those of mainland people. Red was prevelent in the decor and since then has kind of taken on a regal quality in my mind. Everything at this site was painted and draped in red.
This is the outside of the main house of the emperor. The area where these folks are standing is where armies used to gather to get orders from the emperor himself.
this is the emperor's throne. Quite ornate seating and nice and glossy, just like the Japanese people like things!Kanji above the throne. Im really sorry, I dont know what this says. Make something up that sounds good to you!
So after our sojourn in the ancient life of royalty we decided to get outside for awhile and see what other tresures Naha held. We found this garden (Japanese style, of course) and got lost in its pleasures for awhile. It was the perfect was to end a zenful day and enjoy sunset. The little windows here were so fantastic and the details everywhere were just stunning.
I followed this little old man through the garden for quite awhile. He stopped to talk to me about the mosquitos and to remind me that the garden would close in twenty minutes. I think he liked me, and I know I liked him.