Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Solitude of Torii Beach

Local Fisherman
by Pa Rock

The weather today is overcast and cool, a perfect day to be alone on the beach!

Torii Beach is a stretch of sand on the East China Sea about a mile in length that is located at the U.S. Army Base called Torii Station.  It is a good place to walk in solitude and explore among the many curiosities washed ashore by the continual surf.  Torii Beach is probably close to a mile in length, and today I walked it all - quite alone.  In fact, I had the entire beach to myself.

Well, there was one native fisherman working the beach.  A solid white cat that regarded me curiously, but would spring away whenever I wandered too close.  The cat appeared to be very well fed, so I am supposing that he has a talent for working the tidal pools.

The East China Sea at Torii Beach, Okinawa.
Why does my shutter keep trying to close?
This outing provided me with a few unique shells as well as a nice pile of sea glass.  I am very  picky about the glass that I collect, throwing anything that is the least bit shiny back into the surf for more sanding and splashing by Mother Nature.

Okay, Midwesterners, enjoy the pictures - and then get back to shoveling your snow!

Today's Haul of Sea Glass

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Japanese Underground Naval Command

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

I spent an interesting day with my friends Murphy and Nefredia, but unfortunately the small Nikkon camera that I purchased back in the states is not working - yet again - so there will be no pictures with this post.

We headed south from our offices at Kadena just before noon with a vague notion of going to the tunnels that the Japanese dug for defensive purposes during World War II.  Enroute we took a detour and visited two flea markets, both of which had lots of things of interest but were overpriced.   Murphy did buy an Andy Warhol toy that was still in the original box with shrink wrap - and some used ties from another era which he will have cleaned and wear to work.

It took awhile to find the park where the tunnels were located.  They are in a section of Naha not too far from where I lived all those many years ago.  The tunnels were dug into the mountainside with picks and hoes, and then reinforced with cement and plaster.  They served as the headquarters of the Japanese Navy during the American siege of Okinawa in April of 1945.  One small room in the tunnel system has many pockmarks in the walls, and a sign said that they were from the shrapnel when Japanese officers committed suicide with hand grenades.  There were also photo displays, lots of explanatory signs - some of which were in English, and several makeshift shrines honoring the war dead.

Coming back we pulled in at a furniture store - at Nefredia's request.  She, of course, didn't buy anything, but I wound up with a very nice wooden stool that will some day have a place of honor in my little farm house back in the Ozarks.

It is a beautiful day on Okinawa!

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Shots of the Pacific

Ubiquitous Tourist Shop
The S.S. Minnow
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Here are a few more photos from our outing to some of the islands nearby yesterday.

Ocean Running Up Onto Cement Breakers

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Day on the Islands

Valerie and Me in Front of a Pacific Breaker
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

My new roommate, Valerie Seitz, arrived on Okinawa from Luke Air Force Base last Thursday, and she will begin working at Kadena Air Base on Tuesday morning following the Martin Luther King holiday.   She is staying with me until she gets oriented to the island and is ready to strike out on her own.  We have had fun seeing the island for the first time through her eyes, and she has made me some wonderful meals!

Today all of my running buddies (Murphy, Nefredia, and Kelly) took Valerie over to the Pacific side of the island and even crossed some bridges to a couple of small neighboring islands.  I had never been to those islands myself, so I really enjoyed the new sights.

L to R:  Nefredia Covington, Valerie Seitz, and
Kelly Vought
Enroute to the islands we visited Kelly's house and Nefredia's apartment, both of which gave Valerie some idea as to prices and locations of housing, as well as different styles of housing.  She is developing a list of things that she will be looking for when she goes shopping for her own place.  (The homes tour highlight for me was seeing the drain pipe that exits beneath Kelly's house onto her driveway.  A mongoose lives in the pipe, but he comes out occasionally and poops in front of it - which she dutifully sweeps away.  Damn, I miss my little farm!)

Our lunch was at a small cafe that was in the middle of an Okinawan graveyard.  It had an amazing view of the Pacific - with a pair of binoculars at our table - which was made out of a boat.  Willie Nelson sang Moonlight in Vermont in the background, while the cafe cat roamed among the tables looking for food.  I sipped an Orion beer while my friends ate some concoction made of spam and rice.  (Spam is very big among Okinawans - saves on cats, I suppose.)
Kelly Vought and Daniel Murphy, PhD
Wishing They Were Fishing!

Our final stop on the islands was at a resort that had a dirt bike track and a  racing go-kart track.  We watched some daring young men do some amazing driving.

After the day on the islands, we had dinner at Orange, a restaurant near Murphy's apartment.  Cats roam around that restaurant also looking for handouts - and even jump on the occasional table.  But, surprisingly, it is a nice restaurant!

Mongoose Poop on Kelly's Driveway!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Valerie Has Arrived!

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

My good friend, Valerie Seitz, has arrived from Luke Air Force Base to work at Kadena, and she is staying with me until she can find her own place.  Murphy and I picked her up at the Naha Airport last night, and so far all she has seen of this island in the daylight is the view from my balcony.  We our preparing to get out and explore, however, and she will start getting her first glimpses of the place that will be home to her for the next three years.

Welcome, Valerie.  Enjoy your time on The Rock!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day 2011

Fireworks on the Beach - New Year's 2011!
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

It was cold and very windy yesterday, so I opted to spend the evening at home - and was in bed and reading by 10:30 p.m.  But come midnight it sounded like the island of Okinawa was under attack.  Some local celebrants shot off ten minutes of expensive fireworks on the beach just a block or two from my apartment.  The following pictures were taken from my bedroom window!

The Big Bang - Okinawan Style!
Happy 2011!  May it be the best year ever - and the year that the wars end!