My Castle in the Sky…

Hey everybody!

Another great week here in Okinawa. Last Saturday night was fun with traditional dance and song at Eiko Miyazato’s in Naha City with new friends. A great night.

The week was a busy one at work, said good bye to one of my coworkers who I really came to like and will be sad to see go. But I have found out that this job is a transitory one for many people and they come and go from positions with regularity. We welcomed a new addition to CCP and she will fit in nicely.

Enough of work! Yesterday Amanda and I were taken out and about by Mrs. Taira around Naha City. We enjoyed a nice steak at the Pittsburgh restaurant and listened to old music on a jukebox that actually played 45’s.


tug of war rope
No comments please…yes I know what it looks like, but it’s the rope from the Tug 0f War that is held here in October every year.

She took us down to the Cultural Arts building where we learned about bingata, which is traditional Okinawan stenciling on fabric. It was amazing to see all the gorgeous work. Then we looked around the shop that sells all these wonderful handcrafted pieces that were mostly affordable. In this same building you can make your own Shisa, the protectors of homes and gardens from evil spirits or just plain bad energy. Then we wandered into the markets and Mrs. Taira took us to a dance performance.

I don’t know if that video will show up or not. But it is a dance performance. Amanda and I were the only Caucasians in the room and that in and of itself is a strange experience. I felt tall..that’s always my first feeling when I realize I’m the only outsider in the room. People kept looking at us, and I kept trying to melt into the walls!

So today I wanted to check out the Katsuren Castle Ruins. It is about a half an hour drive from my house and a World Heritage Site. I had earlier (On Columbus Day) been to Nakagusuku Castle, another World Heritage Site, along with Zakimi Castle and wanted to see Katsuren. My former supervisor who had taken Amanda and myself to Hamahiga Island  had mentioned as we passed the turn off that it was a special place. I agree. It was a wind-swept, Okinawan winter day, which means, high 50s – low 60s, windy and oftentimes rainy. It also meant that I had the place to myself…well almost, there was a lovely little bird and a snail that I almost stepped on while I was examining the excavation efforts.

rainy bird
Did I mention it was raining? My friend seemed a little under the weather, pardon the pun!
The shell on this guy was about three inches long, and I kept thinking, I have to get this picture quickly! And then I remembered it was a snail… and stood there laughing in the rain like a baka gaijin!

So I climbed up to the top of the third enclosure which is no small accomplishment because if I have not mentioned it before, coral is extremely slippery when it gets wet. Thank goodness for the handrails! I enjoyed the day thoroughly, even the wind and the rain which was at times gusting side ways on me, no matter which direction I turned.

katsuren steps
Wet coral means slick surfaces – LL Bean rain gear and Merrell waterproof boots did the trick!
hiding cave
This was one of the hiding caves when attacks came.
I am in love with the ubiquitous Hibiscus that grow in profusion on this island.

This castle was actually destroyed in the late 1400s when the last lord, Lord Amawari ( I keep thinking it said Awamori) made a disastrous attack on Shuri and they came and destroyed this castle. It was never rebuilt.

So tomorrow, I don’t think we are expecting rain, but I will be venturing north to Nakijin Castle ruins, another World Heritage Site of the same archaeological epoch (Gusuku, for those of you who are interested) and a little hike to Hiji Falls.

I hope everyone has a great week and I’ll check in next week!

These are some of the beautiful castle walls….

rock walls