Okinawa Sunrise

Monday, January 29, 2007

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the flowers is?

Well its been some time since my last post. One reason being that I was remiss in checking the exact date of the cherry blossom festival. It was, in fact, just this past weekend. So up we trotted to Nago, the city at the north of the island above which there is little other than beaches and farms. But apparently even this last weekend of January was not late enough to coax out one very important guest to the festival, the cherry blossoms!

When the blossoms are out in full bloom, they run up along a set of stone steps in a puffy pink cloud leading up to what was Nago Castle and what is now a small shrine...good for wish making.
The number of flowers actually out in full force numbered only in the dozens. I caught a couple on camera. So while the trek up to the shrine was a little less like floating up on puffy cotton candy and more like a calf workin' session on the stair master the view was well worth it.

Also fun to see was all the pomp and circumstance of the festival opening; men in suits and school groups and the cherry blossom queens. I think their get ups were a little 1960s stewardess but the kids were certainly enthralled. It certainly seemed above and beyond the call of your average member of cherry blossom royalty however to march up and down those stone steps in 3 inch high heels with a 4 year old on each hand. Adrian is seen in one pic here trying to get ahead of that little parade.

Despite the cold that delayed the blossoms, tangerine picking season is in full swing! We bought some delicious juicy ones from a street vendor for the drive home.

Also, a note to all my friends and readers (or really, all friends are readers right?). I would like to recommend an author to you, Zadie Smith. Not since Isabelle Allende have I been so enamoured of an author. I've read On Beauty, which is great, and am in the middle of White Teeth, also great. Read her, I know you'll love her. Her style is really unique and up front.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ryukyu Mura: Final Pics

So work has been incredibly busy and I fell for the better part of the week into what can only be described as a "West Wing" coma. Adrian bought me seasons 6 and 7 for Christmas but I had yet to make my way through 4 or 5. So with Adrian away for training for the week I began to care about little more than whether or not Josh and Donna would get together or if the Education Reform plan could make it through a Congress in a parallel universe. Beleive me, its a heck of a lot easier than worrying about the state of the real government.

All this being the long way around to saying that I forgot to post the last two fun pictures from the trip to Ryukyu Mura. So TADA! Here they are! Picture number 1 is a very friendly water buffalo. Ostensibly, his job is to be directed around in a circle by the fellow in the pointy hat behind him while tethered to an enormous grinder that squishes cane sugar into liquid sugar. Why I'm not sure but I can't imagine that he makes more than a shot glass full in a day since he likes to personally greet every person that rounds the corner. He rests his big fuzzy head on the rail and looks at you with big watery eyes, you just gotta rub his nose.

Picture 2 is a gentleman playing a Sanshin, an instrument native to Okinawa. It has what can best be described as a banjo like twang and usually has only one neck. I'm not really sure about the motivation of having two necks on any string instrument because, well, can you tell me how you realistically play both at once. He was nice enough, when he saw a few American's about to treat us to Jingle Bells. Very cute!

Next weekend takes us to the Cherry Blossom festival in the north of the island so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ryukyu Mura Continued

Ryukyu Mura

Traditionally, it is very difficult to justify sitting around on a weekend or holiday in Okinawa. There is just so much to see and do and the weather is rarely bad enough to drive you back to a cozy couch, cup of tea and season six of the West Wing on DVD, much though you may want it to. Its made a little easier to shun the world around New Years since the Japanese are party like its 1999. Its apparently one time of year when Japanese restaurants, clubs etc will thumb their noses at American greenbacks and close to all but Japanese nationals.

We had a lovely new year with new friends and slept most of January first away. But there was no pooping out for the unexpected extra day off on the 2nd (is it wrong to say thank you President Ford:/)

We headed north about 40 minutes to Ryukyu Mura. Its a cultural village a la colonial Jamestown, Okinawa style. I highly recommend it and all of you that come to visit will likely not have a choice in the matter, you're going!

You've got to love any place that tries to ply your affections with booze the minute you walk in. Adrian sampled the native sake and I tried to talk him into the traditional massages and photos in native Ryukyu dress in the entry hall. Rebuffed on both counts.

As we toured the first houses, moved to the park and rebuilt only recenty, a parade started to form. An assortment of dancers, drummers, lords, ladies and a partridge in a pear tree lined up and marched up to a stage where a sucession of dances took place. Some slow, deliberate, geisha type dances as seen in picture two. Some loud and raucous with beating drums and whistling clowns, see image in next post! The whole thing ended with the audience joining in the "dance" (skipping about with hands waving). I avoided it until I made the mistake of ducking in and out of the crowd to catch a snap shot of an old woman balancing a full size wine bottle on her head and sashaying to the music. I caught up with her only to be dragged by force by this tiny woman of strength not often seen in a person of her years, into the mellee. Who can say know to a senior citizen who can mambo with an extra 5 pounds and 1 foot atop their gray head!