Okinawa Sunrise

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ie Island: Land of Lillies II (pictures)

Ie Island: Land of Lillies!

So before Adrian jets of to Thailand for a couple of weeks and I head to Hawaii, we thought we deserved a little romantic mini-break! Through the base travel agent, we booked a night at the YYY resort on Ie Island for a surprisingly good price as it included transportation by bus and ferry to the resort, dinner at the hotel and breakfast.

The morning we left we actually had come excitement at earthquake. Adrian and I were both under the impression that Okinawa didn't get them but a moving bed and rattling glasses in the cabinet will certainly make you second guess yourself! They do come to Okinawa although pretty rarely. It was nothing too bad...we were back to sleep shortly there after and on the bus to the ferry by 9am.

The boat left from Motobu port on the northwestern end of Okinawa. The weather couldn't have been better and we had a lovely chat with some Japanese gentlemen in a strange mish-mosh of languages. From what we gathered, they were headed to the island to play golf. The ferry was only 30 minues and we then took a bus to the hotel. We left the rest of the group at that point and rented bikes to get us around. The island is very small. It's shaped like a peanut and I would say is less than 3 miles wide and maybe 6 miles long.

We made it to the lily fields from the hotel very quicly. Unfortunately, just as the cherry blossoms were behind schedule in January, so the Lilys were not yet out in their full glory. The ones that were out were lovely and you can certainly imagine that when they are all in full bloom it will be a site to see..there are over a million flowers expected.

So we pressed on after buying some yakitori (grilled chicken on a stick) to Wajee point, a lovely cliff area with spectacular views. Then we rode for back down the center of the island past Mt. Gatsuku and down into the 2 blocks of buildings that constitute the downtown on the island. We ended up at the Ernie Pyle monument. Ernie Pyle was a combat correspondant during World War II who was famous for his "grunt eye-view" accounts of what was going on in the war. He survived heavy combat in Germany, Italy and Africa only to be shot by a snipers bullet on Ie Island in the last 6 months of the war...April 18, 1945 to be exact. The monument was really simple but really nice I thought.

We then rewarded ourselves for our exertions on the bikes back at the hotel will a soak in the hot tub and drink at the pool bar. We took a long walk on the beach before having a really lovely Japanese meal in the hotel restaurant....with Sashimi, tofu and lots of goodies that I can't name but really enjoyed. We and several other Americans there seemed to be in the minority in choosing the Japanese dinner menu over the "Western style" meal. Why anyone wants to come 3000 miles for more of what you already had at home is beyond me!

It was a really relaxing weekend. I bought some lillies and am planning to make a go of making them grow on my balcony. Wish me luck, so far I have a pechant for killing any plant unlucky enough to be under my care!

Nakamura House

Cultural treasures are easy to stumble across here in Okinawa. So although I could use the rainy season as an excuse, I was feeling pretty guilty that given my predeliction for soap-box style rants on the importance of burying yourself in culture and wallowing in history....I had hardly taken a step away from base in the past few weekends. So Adrian and I took a 10 minute drive up to the Nakamura house...a restored home, typical of the Ryukyus that once belonged to a member of Okinawa's landed gentry. It was begun in the 16th century (from what I gathered from the oddly translated guidebook) and was in use until the early part of last century.

As you can see from the pictures it is very open to the elements but very serene inside. Everything is open so that the rooms lead very easily into the living quarters and the alter room into the kitchen. I can imagine it must have been pretty chilly in the winter months and pretty steamy in the summer ones but hopefully it caught a decent breeze. I have come to love the feel of tatami beneath my feet and the calming look of the paper walls. I think when we own a house I shall have to build one for relaxation purposes!

Also outside was a lovely coy pond filled with fish that I think we caught in the midst of their evolutionary process. They were literally walking on their fins up the rocks to get the fish food Adrian was throwing at them!

In other news, I have started my Japanese lessons in earnest! I have 2 lessons a week with a private tutor named Megumi-san....quite literally the smallest adult I have ever known! I am 5'2' as many of you know....Megumi-san barely clears my collar bone. I haven't asked how old she is but I would wager a guess at 75-80. She's from Tokyo originally and very sweet if a little tough to please when it comes to pronounciation.

Since Megumi-san is pretty much starting me out from the ground up, I also head to a conversation class once a week so that I can learn some useful phrases that I can use around and feel like I am making some dent in this language. Next month, Megumi-san is starting me on writing! Yay!

Also...I am finally on my way to becoming an American...wooohoo! I am heading to Hawaii next week to finally take my citizenship test and (if I pass) the oath. All my American readers....I now challenge you to a trivia test on American Government! How many Supreme Court Justices are there? How many US representatives do we have? Don't know? And you call yourself a citizen! :-P

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'll take People you don't expect to see in Okinawa for 600 Alex!

Faithful readers!
I know I've been a poor diarist! But in truth, I've had precious little of interest to tell you about! Adrian and I have been living fairly humdrum lives!

We are getting a little more adept at the language but still rely more on hand signals than actual vocabulary! We are also developing cravings for certain kinds of okinawan food which I guess means that they are becoming dietary staples for us. A favorite is Soba. Its a noodle soup in a broth topped with pork, fish cakes, spring onion and pickled ginger. Trust us! It's delish.

Spring is starting to come to Okinawa which hopefully means I will be posting more about outdoor activities. The winter rain has put the kaibosh on many of our planned activities in the past few months. Today it is in the low 80s, sunny and muggy. Okinawa has a fairly summery spring, followed by a rainy season, followed by unbearable heat. Or so I'm told. I'll keep you posted!

One exciting thing from this weekend....Alex Trebeck, the host of Jeopardy and the rest of the show's crew rolled into town. For those of you not reading from the's a very popular and long-running trivia game show. As you can see from the picture, I got to meet Alex. In case you were wondering...he loves the SNL parodies of the show! :)

He was very nice and signed my picture. Adrian and I also tried out for the show. We made it past the first round of tests but failed to get through the 2nd hoop, a 50 question rapid fire test. I don't know how much I missed by but lets just say I missed by one!

Also in a pic below is my friend Danielle with Alex after she made him a gift of one of her local pictures. I am also including the link to her gallery. She does great underwater stuff!
If I ever get the gumption to go diving, I'm hoping it will be with her; as you can see, she knows the most beautiful spots!