Monday, September 12, 2011

An Evening at Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle's famous Torii Gate
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

This Saturday evening several friends and I went to a cultural presentation at Shuri Castle.  The ancient home of Okinawan royalty was decimated during World War II and has been completely rebuilt since the war.  The grounds are amazing, with lots of hand-carved stone work that fits together almost seamlessly.

A stage was put up in front of the castle entrance and several musicians and performers entertained the largely Okinawan crowd for over three hours.  It was a mixture of Okinawan music, dance, and a play - all of which are an important part of the island's cultural history.
Okinawan ladies welcome guests to Shuri Castle
Hats worn by some of the performers
One of the castle's Shisa Dogs guarding the
Some of the intricate stone work on the castle grounds

Some of my friends.
A story is unfolding.
A dancer.  The musicians are seated with backs
to the camera.

Somehow I wound up on the front row - right behind the musicians.  My photographs of the stage are necessarily contorted.  Sorry about that.

Some More Scenes Heading Toward Naha Port

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Here are a few more photos from our trip to Naha Port last weekend where we caught the ferry to Tokashiki Island.  As you can see from all of the blue sky, it was a beautiful day - and a fantastic weekend!
A commercial building
Apartment buildings
Naha street scene
Camp Kinser - USMC

Commercial building at the port

Scenes Along Highway 58

A large tow truck
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Last week as Valerie drove our little group south to catch the ferry for Tokashiki Island, the traffic was heavy and we tended to do quite a bit of starting and stopping.  To keep from being bored, I started taking pictures of various buildings and street scenes from the car window.  This is Okinawa as it looks heading toward Naha.  I was facing the east side of the highway.

Random street scene
Blue Seal Ice Cream - very good and very common on the
A Pachinko Parlor - also very common on Okinawa
KFC first appeared on Okinawa when I was here originally
 -  nearly 40 years ago.
The only other fast food on the island at that time was
A&W Root Beer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend On Tokashiki Island

A mango ice drink and the sidewalk artisan who made it!

Okinawan mother and daughter enjoying the ferry
ride to Tokashiki.
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Friends and I spent a nice holiday weekend on Tokashiki, a small, populated island about an hour-and-a-half ferry ride from Okinawa.  And although the distance was relatively short, it was like stepping into another world. The island is comprised of several very large hills surrounded by a shoreline of breath-taking beaches.  We stayed at the island's only hotel, Marine Village, but there were also guesthouses and campgrounds for the fun-seeking holiday travelers.

The ferry's crew preparing to dock at Tokashiki.
Most of the recreating on Tokashiki centers on the sea, with boating, diving, and snorkeling being the main activities for tourists.  I managed to get sunburned before the boat even arrived on the island, so I didn't play in the water, but I did walk some beaches and did a lot of reading - which is how I usually relax.  My traveling companions all snorkeled and came back with stories of colorful fish and sea turtles.

There were lots of other Americans on Tokashiki this weekend, and we saw several people that we knew from Kadeena.  The trip to Tokashiki was a very nice way to close out the summer.

One of many small, uninhabited islands that surround
Valerie descending the slide from hell!
My butt still hurts!
A view from our hotel room.
Your sun-drenched blogger.
The closest I got to a sea turtle!
Enjoy the photos.  More will follow over the next few days.