Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Cherry Blossom Festival

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

My ex-pat friends and I spent yesterday exploring some very interesting parts of Okinawa.  We began with a tour of the famous Japanese cherry blossoms atop Mt. Yae.  Although the day was cold and somewhat dreary, the cherry blossoms hung on an extra week or so just so we could enjoy their beauty.  While we were at Mt. Yae, we also played in the park, watched elderly people play some unusual type of golf of sort of a mini-golf course, and walked a nature trail down deep into a valley and back up again.  (I was huffing and puffing by the time we finished that - you betcha I was!)

Our next official stop was at the 69 Beach Club, an exotic hideaway out in the woods that is no where near a beach.  I will have plenty of pictures of that because it was my favorite part of the day.   While there we ate lunch is a large tent.  We could have opted to dine in one of their tree houses, but it was a bit too chilly.  Maybe next time!

Valerie going down a roller slide
at Mt. Yae Park
We spent some time on the grounds outside of the Churaumi Aquarium (the largest aquarium in Japan), and concluded with a long walking tour of the International Orchid Festival that was being held at the Arboretum - which is next door to the Aquarium.  It was the last day of the Orchid Festival, and we were very fortunate to get to see it.

The friends who were with me on this outing were all my work buddies.  They included Daniel Murphy, a psychologist, and three social workers:  Kelly Vought, Valerie Seitz, and Ron Gibb.

Today's pictures are of the Cherry Blossom festival and some of the things that we saw there.  Pictures from the other places will appear in this space over the next few days.

Tomorrow I head out for Seoul, Korea, for a week of training courtesy of the U.S. Army.  It won't be too unfamiliar because the training is being held in the same hotel that Daniel and Kelly and I stayed at over Thanksgiving.

Ron Gibb (l) and Daniel Murphy (r)
Tree with gnarly roots along the
nature trail at Mt. Yae
Ubiquitous Elephant Ears along the nature trail
A view from atop Mt. Ya

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