Okinawa World: Habu Show & Gyokusendo Cave!
It was a pretty rainy day but we went to Okinawa World, nestled in the middle of farm lands! It was like… Polynesian Culture Center (but not? lol). It was a huge tourist attraction but it was fun! Cathy went crazy with souvenir buying again but this time she got a coupon and a free bag! I really appreciated the large scale maps they had, especially of the distribution of snakes found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. It was very interesting and I learned a lot from the exhibit! I didn’t know the there were so many different types of snakes found here. The most common snake found in Okinawa is habu (ha-boo) and it’s poisonous! I hope I never encounter one in its environment.
We don’t have snakes in Hawaii (thank God!) and it was overwhelming to see vast amounts of them here. Please enjoy the photos! Cathy and I took a picture with a large python and I wasn’t loving hahaha. When they put the python on us, the snake’s face was in my face O__O! Apparently back in the day, they used to show a death match between a mongoose and snake but maybe they got many animal cruelty complaints (??) so now they show a swimming contest between a mongoose and a sea snake LOL. It was cute 🙂
After the Habu Show, we walked around ‘the village,’ which was basically a huge tourist trap area LOL. It was fun though! This place is exactly like any major tourist destination such as back home in Hawaii so we understand that 🙂
Towards the end of our time there, we walked through the huge Gyokusendo Stalactite Cave. This cave was massive and it was so interesting to walk through it, granted there was a very nice path to walk on, it was pretty wild! It was beautiful and unique and I’m pretty sure that was my first time in a stalactite cave ever. Please enjoy the pictures!
It’s been a very busy week of sightseeing! It’s the rainy season here and Cathy’s husband is leaving tomorrow. They wanted to go diving but we never had the right weather 😦 But it’s okay! We can try to come back together again one day 😀
I have some really nice frames from here and I will make a video soon! I have to get ready to leave the house! Happy Memorial Day Weekend guys!
Bye guys! I miss and love you all!!
7am in Ginowan!
I made a quick video of the 7am music they play everyday. I asked my dad about it and he said they play music everyday at 7:00am, 12:00pm, and 5:00pm. It’s really neat and I think it’s a pleasant way to remind people the time 🙂 Please enjoy the video! I’ll write a blog post tomorrow! Today we are going to visit the Peace Park Memorial and I’m very excited! I love Peace Parks! And it’s truly an honor to visit a historical place!
7:00am in Ginowan, Okinawa from Cencia B. on Vimeo.
Bye guys! I miss and love you all!!
Churaumi Aquarium in Motubu! Orion Beer Factory Tour in Nago! American Village!
My third day in Okinawa and we went to Churaumi Aquarium in Motubu and Orion Beer Factory in Nago! We also had the chance to visit American Village in Chatan, it is literally right down the street from where I’m staying.
I have been looking forward to visiting the aquarium for a long time because I have never seen a whale shark in person before! I am staying in Ginowan, which is in the southern half of Okinawa Island ( I WILL MAKE A MAP SOON! ) and we had to drive to the northern half to Motubu and Nago to see the aquarium and beer factory! It was really nice to drive along the coast. This island is like the Japanese version of Hawaii!
The aquarium was so beautiful! It was the biggest aquarium I’ve ever visited and it was magical! There was a lot of tourists (many from China) and it was crowded! I got to see the many different fishes that are found in this part of the world. We have a lot of the same species but they come in different colors here! Please enjoy my photos below!
My favorite beer is Orion and we had the chance to visit the Orion Beer Factory. They offer a free tour and beer tasting (you get two free beers!) 🙂 The tour is entirely in Japanese but it was really neat to see how they operate there. We drove back to Ginowan using the Express Way. It’s the equivalent to our freeway but you have to pay a toll fee. It was very fast and efficient. I didn’t take any pictures but we were driving through the wild part of Okinawa and there were many hills and mountains. It reminded me of driving on the Pali Highway because of the nature but it was not curvy. We went to American Village and it was really neat. It was the first time we walked along the ocean where we saw people of all ages enjoying this area. I didn’t take any photos (sorry!) but I witnessed local kids jumping into the ocean! I wanted to but maybe next time!
Please enjoy the quick video I made of Churaumi Aquarium (43 seconds). I didn’t shoot it in movie mode, it is entirely in individual picture frames (11 fps!). I am so in love with Okinawa!
Churaumi Aquarium May 2015 from Cencia B. on Vimeo.
I’ll try to make more videos for everyone to see! I have a few good frames of Orion Beer Factory! Right now, I have to get ready because my dad is going to bring us to his fire station to meet everyone. He always tells all the secretaries and his firefighters about us so he wants to introduce us before Cathy’s husband leaves Okinawa.
Bye guys!! I miss and love you all!!
My second day in Okinawa and we went to Shuri Castle! It was a real adventure getting there because the streets are so narrow and my parents haven’t been there either! Drivers in Okinawa also do this funny thing where they park their cars right on the road and put their hazards on. I’ll try to take a picture of it! It’s really amusing! I got an International License and I am not really looking forward to driving here because they drive on the left side LOL. I’m a good driver, right?!!
My dad asked me what I wanted to do before I got to Okinawa and I told him that I wanted to visit every single gusuku (pronounced ‘goos-ku’) in all of the Ryukyu Islands. Hahaha not sure if that’s going to happen but I can dream 🙂 Gusukus are castles that were built during the Ryukyu Kingdom (14th century and probably before that), before Japanese Imperialism. Okinawa is a strategic location and was a thriving trading post for many centuries, where some routes came as far from India! These ancient archaeological sites are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites! You can read more about it here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/972
Shuri Castle or Shuri-jo is a reconstructed castle (almost entirely destroyed during WWII) and it was truly a very special experience to visit there. In my opinion after reading a few academic articles on gusukus, there are smaller similar wall structures that are found in villages throughout the Ryukyus that indicate that they were sacred sites based on the geography of the area. (Sorry it’s the human geographer in me!). I feel that these places are equivalents to the Hawaiian heiaus. Shuri-jo reminded me of Puu o Mahuka Heiau in Pupukea because of the view of the ocean and the location on top of the mountain.
Enough about that!
We eventually made it to Shuri-jo after getting re-routed a few times (thanks Google Maps!). There were these really cute child maps where you have to stamp each place and you could get a prize! The prize was merely a set of children stickers but we had so much fun collecting the stamps! I especially LOVED the old maps they had of Shuri-jo. There was this one Chinese style scroll map that was very detailed, you could see individual houses and people. I’ll never forget my time with my family at Shuri-jo! I think the last time we had a family vacation was when Justin and Jade graduated high school in the mainland (2006). It was extremely crowded with tourists but it was well worth the experience! We definitely got a lot of exercise because we walked up hills, up and down stairs, for literally 3 hours hahaha
Please enjoy the photos below! When we got home, me and my sister & her husband walked to the local Lawson’s (equivalent to our 7-11) and I bought a special brew Orion Beer, a wakame musubi, and a pocket ashtray (good idea!). I sat on the deck and people watched while I enjoyed my beer. It was delicious and I’m contemplating to fill an entire suitcase full of beer to take home with me (I’m serious) 🙂
It’s exactly 7:00am here. There’s a loud speaker on many corners and they play a cute tune to indicate time. I think they do it at 7:00am, 12:00pm, 5:00pm, and 7:00pm? I will try and record it because it’s a neat idea!
Today was the first time it was actually cool weather. All day yesterday was pouring rain and it was extremely muggy. I’m going to go drink coffee now and hangout on the balcony! I am so grateful that I don’t have to worry about anything during this time here. I contemplate how busy my life was just a month ago and I’m thankful that I survived (I literally survived guys! LOL).
Bye guys! I miss and love you all!!
Arriving in Okinawa! Kokusai Street!
My flight landed almost an hour after the scheduled time because the visibility was bad due to the low clouds. Our plane had to circle Okinawa twice! But it was a treat to see the outer islands that surround Okinawa island. When we finally landed, my parents were already on their way to pick me up! I felt pure elation when I saw them drive up!
Right after being picked up from the airport, we went straight to Kokusai Street! This area is the equivalent of Waikiki and it was crowded with many tourists. The weather in Okinawa is sub-tropical and very humid. It brought back memories of being in Southeast Asia. I usually do not perspire, even while hiking in midday, but it is a different story here. It’s like walking in a thick invisible wall of muggy hot air. We have it good in Hawaii with the tradewinds 🙂 !!!
There were a lot of cute Okinawa souvenirs on this street but the only thing I purchased was a pack of hair ties or ‘goh-mu’ in Japanese. I learned a new word! As you guys know, I have long hair that is more than half my body, I had to go to the Don Quijote (they have A LOT here!) and buy me some rubber bands haha. We went inside the market and we were trying samples of all kinds of Okinawa dishes. There was sharks fin and I politely declined! We found a kumu fish! They called it ‘oji-san’ or old man. It was a pretty good size kumu! I was happy 🙂
After walking Kokusai Street, we went to my parents’ home. They live in a beautiful apartment that is above this canal that goes into the ocean. I can see the ocean from here as well.
(Everyday since I arrived, I go outside many times to see what is in the canal. I will take a picture when I get the chance. I’ve seen people of all ages hanging around this area where they walk their dogs, fish, explore, or just look into the canal. I am thankful that I have a beautiful view 🙂 )
After resting a little bit, we ventured to the Daiso! It is a 100 yen store ($1 USD). They have good quality things that range from beauty products to dog treats to household items. I am seriously going to miss having a store like this when I get back to Hawaii. We went to a clothing store, Uniquelo, and it’s the equivalent of Forever21 but much much better quality. They have weekend sales and Cathy & I got some really amazing deals.
Yes there’s more!
We also went to the new Aecon Mall they built and this mall blows Ala Moana out of the water. It’s a 5-story high mall with everything and anything you can think of. They even have a Billabong store and Forever21. We have a running joke between us and all these fancy and extravagant places are funded by the Yakuza hahaha (it’s probably true, but who knows?)
That was my first day in Okinawa and it was quite eventful. I need to brush up on my Japanese language skills (thanks Ms. Shiraki, my 8th grade Japanese language teacher!).
I have to go guys! I’m going with my dad to run some errands. In Okinawa, they have a road tax (equivalent to our car registration) and there’s a certain time of the year where you need to pay it and it’s usually scheduled by county. This is different than Hawaii because we can just go to the DMV anytime during the year to pay for registration lol. I don’t know the penalty if you pay late but I don’t think my dad wants to find out haha
Bye guys! I miss and love you all!
First Post: Layover in Tokyo traveling to Okinawa!
Here’s my blog! I’m kind of new to this so please be kind to me 🙂
I made a promise to myself that instead of the monotonous routine of posting on social media such as Instagram or Facebook, I would make an actual blog, and here it is! I wanted to deactivate my Facebook over the summer during my travels and keep an online journal instead.
It’s been a hectic past couple of days of flying, catching trains, and finally arriving to my final destination, Uchinaa (Okinawa). I am so happy to see my parents and sister/brother-inlaw because I haven’t seen them in over a year. I feel very close to my family and it was a struggle to not be near them for so long. It’s truly a blessing to also visit the land where I came into the world. It has been a dream of mines since I was a young child growing up in Hawaii to visit my birthplace of Okinawa. Thank God that the universe lined up in my favor and I am so grateful to celebrate my milestone of graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in a place where I had my first beginnings in life.
I caught my plane from Honolulu International Airport and sat next to a married couple from Palau. The flight was very long but I somehow was able to sleep. I arrived in Narita International Airport and caught the train into Tokyo where Satomi-san met me 🙂 Special thanks to Uncle Ted for letting Satomi know I was coming and for buying my museum tickets!!! I had a 20-hr layover in Tokyo and I immediately planned a visit to another bucket-list place, The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. I asked if Satomi could buy my ticket and also accompany me there and it worked out! I have to admit, the Tokyo train system is absolutely amazing and I am thankful that I had Satomi to guide me because I would have been lost (she mentioned that people from outside Tokyo need help catching trains).
We arrived at Mitaka station and caught the yellow catbus to the museum. There’s no photography allowed inside the museum (sorry no pictures!) but below are some pictures I took outside 🙂 After the museum, we went to eat at a very local ramen place. You select/pay for your food at the machine outside and go inside to give to the worker. Next time I’ll take a picture of my food (haha, sorry!). Then Satomi-san took me to her apartment and we went to sleep because my flight was at 6am. My time in Tokyo has truly been a blessing and I’m thankful for the opportunity to fulfill another dream 🙂
My mom is calling me to go eat breakfast so I gotta go! I miss and love you all!