Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Park by Valerie's Place

Some of nature's architecture by the sea
Watch out for the what?
A view of the inlet from a park trail.
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Yesterday I had a late lunch with my friends Valerie and Daniel, and after lunch we drove to Valerie's to check out her new apartment.  The new place does not have a view of the ocean, which means that it is much cheaper than most of the rental housing on this small island.  But her apartment complex has one very nice feature - it is next door to a large, well-maintained park.  The park has many picnic areas and beautiful views, and it gradually slopes down toward the sea.

Valerie's apartment complex.
It was a beautiful day, and we encountered many other people who were out walking in the park or along the shore.  Enjoy the photos!
Valerie at a picnic site

A Few More Shots from Golden Hall

Front exterior view of Golden Hall with the inexplicable
wagon wheels!
by Pa Rock
Small dinosaur with bobbing head.  It was large enough for
a child to sit on.
Cultural Explorer

Here are a few more photographs from last weekend's visit to Golden Hall.  

Pair of Chinese dragons sharing a ball in their mouths.
Another view of the Buddha.
Members of our group:  Left to right:  Nefredia, Valerie,
Ian (Stacy's son), Steven, Stacy, Atsuko (Valerie's friend),
Daniel (against the railing),and Nathan (Ian's friend).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bonsai Cafe - Gold Hall

An eight or ten-foot Buddha - solid stone!
Nefredia in a large wooden chair among the exhibits.
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer
A finely carved Buddha

Several friends and I went to an amazing place last Sunday evening.  Golden Hall (also known as the Bonsai Cafe-Gold Hall) is a combination restaurant-museum-art gallery-greenhouse-cave within walking distance of Camp Hansen, a Marine Corps Base.  The food was mediocre, but the service was excellent.   But Golden Hall is not about the food, it is about the experience.

Statue of Liberty
And it's about the stuff!

Outdoor gardens
Golden Hall is literally a maze of things to see and experience.  Upon entering, visitors cough up 800 yen (a little less than ten dollars) and given a map for self-exploration.  There are large wooden tables and chairs that weigh hundreds of pounds and look more like works of art than functional furnishings.  There are rooms with fine pottery local art, rooms that contains hundreds of small bonsai trees, waterfalls, a giant Buddha, outdoor tea rooms, and so much more.  A quick tour would take a couple of hours!

Large fish dish (local pottery) approximately 3-4 feet in

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bar District Near Camp Hansen

Here's the picture.  You supply the
thousand words!
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer 

Last evening friends and I went to dinner at the Golden Hall, a very nice restaurant/art gallery near the main gate to Camp Hansen.  A post of that experience will follow.  While we were waiting to go into the restaurant, we took a walk about through the small streets that comprise the obligatory bar district adjacent to the Marine Corps base.  Almost all military bases have these types of neighborhoods within walking distance, giving the young service people interesting ways in which to become parted from their money.  (The name of the community is "Kin.")

This was Sunday afternoon, so there weren't too many off-duty marines or street walkers in evidence, but the same few blocks were undoubtedly rollicking the night before.

Signs of Renovation

Two bars, Cheers and Club Shangri-la.

Pachinko Parlor in the village of Kin

Some Marine-proof local housing.

Another bar.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Okinawa from the Air

by Pa Rock
Murphy, Valerie, and Me - and the plane we rode in.
Flying Fool

Yesterday Valerie and Murphy and I toured Okinawa from the air in a small airplane that was owned by the Air Force and maintained by the base flying club.  Our pilot, Ryan, is an air traffic controller for the Air Force when he is not taking tourists through the friendly skies above Okinawa.

Small agricultural island off of the coast
We had some great views of the waters around Okinawa and saw many boats and even a few para-gliders.  The islands just off shore gave us many ideas of places that we would like to visit.  The sky was blue and so were the waters lapping up along the shores of this island that we call home.

I think that the most startling revelation that I had was just how large Naha has become.  Forty years ago I could have found my way anyplace in the capital city with relative ease.  Today I would not even attempt a trip through the city without a navigator sitting in the passenger seat ready to assist with directions.

Enjoy the photos!

A bit of Naha from the air.
Our pilot, Ryan, refueling the plane after our tour.