Into the wild…

Hello Everybody,

I was originally planning for a nice weekend exploration of Zamamijima and possibly Akajima. This is twice now that I have had that plan. This is twice that I haven’t made it there. First time, it was rough seas. The second time, Saturday morning, the ferry that carried automobiles and scooters, my plan, was not running. Tokashiki Ferry was running though. I thought about it, even filled out the paper work…but I don’t like to just take off without a rudimentary plan. I hopped back on my scooter and formulated a plan as I drove back to Ginowan.

My history teacher in Grand Gorge, then Roxbury made me familiar with the expression …’go West, young man’…I decided I would go north. Funny how the voices of our teachers stay with us throughout our lives, if we listen. It was time to go searching for the Yanbaru Kuina again (the Okinawa rail) or just see the Yanbaru National Park.

untamed Okinawa…

To get up there, I simply had to pack up by FunCargo. The seats fold into the floor and I can sleep in the back. I threw in my mattress pad and sleeping bag in case I felt like pulling over next to a beach and making a night of it. You can do that in Okinawa, there are no problems with just camping on a random beach if you so choose. I made a thermos of chocolate macadamia nut coffee and headed out.

Along the way I  marveled at the East China Sea. I am always struck by its beauty. There is a spot above Nago where the water looks unlike anywhere else on the island. I pulled over and spent a little time just enjoying it.

I arrived at Hedo and shot a few pictures, then drove down the side of the mountain to get to the beach. I had considered snorkeling there (I brought all my gear including wetsuit and fins) and maybe spending the night.

I parked the car and was greeted by this lovely little bird that stopping singing her sweet song as soon as I pulled the camera out. Then she sort of glared at me and flew off.

brown bird
I don’t know…but she was singing a pretty song.
little bananas
natural bananas

Next to her were these bananas, just growing naturally in the thick of it. They were maybe four inches long and looked wonderful, but the birds and the animals need the fruit, and I can go to the Farmer’s Market. I left them alone.

There was a rustling in the bushes that lined the path to the ocean, I was on the Pacific side now, and I hesitated a moment because the north is prime habu territory. My previous trip I had almost stepped on a Taiwanese habu and decided to be much more careful this time around. To my delight, I had several small tree lizards racing in front of me, stopping, coming back out (to be photographed I assume) and running back into the underbrush.

blue tail lizard
tree lizard with a decadent blue then green tail…dare I say iridescent?
lizard and flowers
lizard with the flowers

The beach was beckoning but alas, too many Americans talking loudly and making sure they could be heard. I have learned from the Japanese how to expertly avoid eye contact and practiced my skill. I decided I would camp somewhere else if I did decide to stay overnight. I did talk to an Uchinanchu woman who had this sort of spear to get sea urchins was my guess. She was startled by the lizards and then we were laughing. She did not seem to care that I could not understand much of what she was saying  and parted with a laugh and a wave as I stayed on to shoot some more photos.

So this brings me to my search. As I’ve said in a previous post, with that photo below, the Okinawa Rail or Yanbaru Kuina is a very rare bird, they do not fly and apparently are quite camera shy.

Driving back down the East Coast of the island from the tip is where they all live, all 700 of them, in the Yanbaru National Forest. I have not spent much time on trails and decided to go to a few side road and enter in.

closer OR
Yanbaru kuina, no not from this trip, but last year.

I was on one trail, and I was wearing my Vibram Five Fingers. That is not a plug for the company, but to tell you that you’re pretty much in touch with the ground and it’s like being barefoot. This is when I stepped on something that felt round and long…sort of like a was not, thank goodness, but it suddenly occurred to me that I am in the middle of nowhere, no one knows where I am and I am in the land of the habu. Well, I didn’t leave of course, where’s the fun in that? I did find a nice stick that someone left behind and used it to test the underbrush before I stepped into it. It also made a nice bo to practice with as I walked back to my car.

So, the kuina, they were all around me, seriously. I think they were having a good time, but the underbrush and trails are so thick, I could not see them. I could hear them however and the movie below is a little snippet. Note how quiet and serene it was. I did not see another person the whole time I was there.

on the trail
on the trail…

I decided to leave the kuina alone and come back another day.  On the drive back home, I will stop at Nakamura Soba for some of my favorite seaweed soba with the incredible agu and fish cakes. It took about an hour to get back on the road and get in the right direction. I arrived at Nakamura Soba at 1808 only to discover that they close at 1800.  By the time I got to Ginowan..(is that a song?) I was ravenous and dropped into my favorite ramen haunt, Linya.

I kept hearing this booming sound and thought…oh boy North Korea is serious this time, when I remembered the Okinawa Convention Center was going to be having the ‘largest fireworks display in Japan.’

I threw on a hoodie, grabbed my camera and ended up on my seawall,  on a rock with the perfect view, no admission prices, no parking worries and the place to myself.

So here are a few of the shots from the night…



ball of fire 2



three balls

It all went by pretty quickly…as you can see in my little time release recording.

I hope everyone has a great week until we meet again!