Thursday, October 7, 2010

Okinawa Part 1: Castle and garden on Naha

After spending most of my time on the Goto islands and in Nagasaki-ken i really, really wanted to get out and explore more of Japan this year.  Poof!  My wish was granted and my first big "seeing Japan" trip was fantastic!  I got to explore the many fabulous island of Okinawa with some great friends and just enjoy the leisure of travel. 

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. 

Living quarters and spaces where the emperor would recieve guests. 

we took the usual route, so as to not upset all of the castle guides who stood watching people file through.  this was a tight operation and something like 100,000 people come through this castle each year.  pretty awesome and pretty over the top.
the white girl is with me! surprise!

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!

this is a model built to show what the area once looked like when armies gathered in the main courtyard.  (picture of the outside of the building above)

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 will just let the scenery do the talking for a minute now.  this was really such a lovely way to spend some time and a great way to connect with Japan and its natural beauty.  these are for mr. bird and my mom.  you were both there with me while I wandered through here.

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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ohio again...


just had to capture the sun over the mountains to the east while i was walking to work this morning.  gotta say that i do love this place a little more each day.