Okinawa 2011

The big trip of the year was visiting Okinawa for the 5th International Festival (Uchinanchu Taikai) with my parents and friends and relatives. We had been there five years ago,

We visited the Peace Museum at the southern end of the main island, and also saw the beautiful orchids at the Tropical Dream Center at the National Aquarium complex. Enjoy!

Star Sand Beach

My folks and I signed up for a tour of the "outer islands" -- we flew an hour south of the main Okinawan island to smaller and more rural islands close to Taiwan and Korea.

On one of these islands, Taketomi, there is a "star sand" beach -- sand partially composed of tiny star shaped shells. You had to look very closely to see them, but they were prolific and they really were shaped like stars.

Christine Goias and Jane Yanabu on Taketomi island
Evelyn Akamine, Christine Goias, and Jane Yanabu
Here is my mom's friend Christine Goias, looking closely at the sand in her palm   This is my Aunt Evelyn Akamine, looking over to see the sand. Mom looks unconvinced.

 

Christine Goias, Charles Kanoho
Christine Goias on Taketomi Island
Christine, intensely looking at the sand. Charlie of Charlie's Tours looks over at Christine's star sand   Christine got so excited when she was able to see the stars in the sand

Water Buffaloes

Iriomote island water buffalo cart tours
Tourists in Okinawa's outer islands
The people on Iriomote and Yubu island shuttle tourists back and forth on carts pulled by water buffaloes, which are traditional to the area.   Now that I look at these pictures, I realize I didn't get a picture of the buffaloes, just us tourists

5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival

World Uchinanchu Festival Opening Parade
Okinawan Worldwide Festival in Naha -- Opening Parade

 

Okinawan Peace Museum
The tour group we travelled with was mostly people from Hawaii. Here we are congregated at the Peace Museum

Deigo Hotel

When we are in Okinawa we stay at the Deigo Hotel in Okinawa City. Being a good southwestern dweller, I thought at first it had to be a misspelling of "Diego Hotel". However, it is Deigo, the name of a flowering tree native to Okinawa. The hotel logo is based on the flower's design.

I can't tell you how much I like this hotel. It's run by a family and it's not fancy. To tell the truth, it's rather plain, but it's comfortable and clean. The important part, at least to my mind, and my family's mind, is that the food is excellent here. Breakfasts are elaborate and change every day... dinners were uniformly good. The Japanese believe their rice is better than rice elsewhere, and it's hard not to believe it too, when you are there.

The two other great things about this hotel are the free internet access computers in the lobby, and the communal bath facility on the top floor. A huge bath, tinted red from the added minerals. Even on a muggy October day it is a treat to wash off and take a hot soak. Really puts you in a happy state of mind.

Deigo Hotel in Okinawa City
Jane Yanabu and Christine Goias
Here is my mom and her friend Christine Goias hanging out in front of the Deigo Hotel like the pair of truant teenagers they probably once were

Okinawa City

Koza, Okinawa mural
Manhole cover with plants
Okinawa City is not the most picturesque place in Okinawa. In fact it is a little run down and many shops appear to be struggling. However, like many things past their prime, it is still a prime subject for photography, if you know where to look. Here is a mural near Parumira street near Deigo Hotel.  

Here, a fancy manhole. There is a whole Flickr pool of Japanese manhole covers. Because you know there's no place untouched by the INTERNETS!

Here is another version of it from Flickr user Tartlime. Hers is even better.

A Family Vacation

Robert and Jane Yanabu in Okinawa
There's nothing my Dad likes better than a buffet, and the one at the National Aquarium was perfectly adequate

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Last updated: July 4, 2012