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!!