Orion

Churaumi Aquarium in Motubu! Orion Beer Factory Tour in Nago! American Village!

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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.

WE ARRIVED TO CHURAMI AQUARIUM!
WE ARRIVED TO CHURAUMI AQUARIUM!
Father and daughters :)
Father and daughters 🙂
Touching some starfishes! They even provided an area to wash your hands after that was equipped with many sinks and hand dryers!
Touching some starfishes! They even provided an area to wash your hands after that was equipped with many sinks and hand dryers!
The skin of a very large Great White Shark that they caught in Okinawa. Shark skin feels like sand paper!
The skin of a very large Great White Shark that they caught in Okinawa. Shark skin feels like sand paper!
THESE WERE THE CUTEST!!
THESE WERE THE CUTEST!!
LOOK HOW DIFFERENT THE UHU IS! I was very surprised! The uhu is very beautiful here. They had a lot of different colors but this one was the most beautiful to me!
LOOK HOW DIFFERENT THE UHU IS! I was very surprised! The uhu is very beautiful here. They had a lot of different colors but this one was the most beautiful to me!
They had a dolphin in the biggest tank. I enjoyed watching the animals in here. Very huge tank full of sharks, rays, and fishes!
They had a dolphin in the biggest tank (only picture I had, kind of blurry sorry!). I enjoyed watching the animals in here. Very huge tank full of sharks, rays, and fishes!
Family Picture! This was the shark/ray information section. I got to rest a little bit and watch a video about one of the Manta Rays giving birth to a baby. It was very cool to watch even though I couldn't understand the narration.
Family Picture! This was the shark/ray information section. I got to rest a little bit and watch a video about one of the Manta Rays giving birth to a baby. It was very cool to watch even though I couldn’t understand the narration.
Orion Beer Factory in Nago. For Your Happy Time :)
Orion Beer Factory in Nago. For Your Happy Time 🙂
Orion Beer Factory!
Orion Beer Factory!
We had to :D
We had to 😀
The packaging/quality control part of the factory.
The packaging/quality control part of the factory. Can I take a keg home with me? haha
Orion beer throughout the years
Orion beer throughout the years
American Village in Chatan. The Blue Seal in the background is Okinawa's version of Baskin Robbin's. It's really good, they have a sweet potato flavor.
American Village in Chatan. The Blue Seal in the background is Okinawa’s version of Baskin Robbin’s. It’s really good, they have a sweet potato flavor.
American Village at night. I want to ride that huge ferris wheel one day. My dad says its a very long ride so maybe next time!
American Village at night. I want to ride that huge ferris wheel one day. My dad says its a very long ride so maybe next time!

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!!

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Shuri-jo!

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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) 🙂

Approaching Shureimon
Approaching Shureimon
Reminded me of Laputa
Reminded me of Laputa
Instant film is instant fun!
Instant film is instant fun!
Parents and sister&brother-inlaw
Parents and sister&brother-inlaw
I loved the many water features found throughout this huge palace.
I loved the many water features found throughout this huge palace.
“The Royal Smoke House” hahaha. Many koi, ducks, and turtles in this pond.
Example of stairs towards the end of our time there. This park was beautiful and next time I want to walk around the canal and feed the ducks! This is also the site where there was entrances to the underground that the Japanese Imperialist Army made/used during WWII.
Example of stairs towards the end of our time there. This park was beautiful (Shuri-jo is so big that it has its own park inside lol) and next time I want to walk around the canal and feed the ducks! This is also the site where there were entrances to the underground that the Japanese Imperialist Army made/used during WWII.
Looking into another water feature
Looking into another water feature
Me and my sis!
Me and my sis!
MY FAVORITE BEER! The Oji-san at Lawson's pointed to my beer and said it was oishi. He was right!
MY FAVORITE BEER! The Oji-san at Lawson’s pointed to my beer and said it was oishi. He was right!

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!!