Hokuzan – the kingdom of the North

Hello Everybody!

I know its been a while, but the luxury of writing a blog and not writing for a living is that I can do it when I want to. So since I cannot visit my lovely Korea right now and it’s too risky to go to Taiwan, I am bounding around Okinawa.

Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong are a little locked up in the frenzy that is the coronavirus. For anyone who doesn’t live here, we are a tourism location. Normally, Okinawa is flooded with people from all over Asia, but primarily Chinese tourists are  どこにでも (everywhere), buying everything there is to buy.

Between the quarantines and restrictions, we are like a ghost town here. Kokusai Dori in Naha (I don’t go there, too many tourists), American Village in Chatan (I do go there) and the main attractions are populated now with Americans and local people.

sakura and tsubomi
Sakura and tsubomi – 桜と蕾 awaiting the final visitors at Nakijin-jo.

That being said, it’s the perfect time to go to all the places I want to go and not have giant crowds. Off to the North I went.  Nakijin was the castle in the northern kingdom Hokuzan in the time of three kingdoms. The other two were Chuzan and Nanzan. I have my annual Okinawan sakura (cherry blossom) viewing, but alas, this year I left it a little too late. A few blossoms hung around for me, perhaps awaiting my late arrival.

hokuzan view
The grounds of Nakijin-jo with intact walls.
stone walk stairs
The cherry tree lined steps to the upper section at Nakijin-jo.

I also spent most of the day at a place I have been saving away like a little chestnut: Bise Fukugi Road. These trees have their origin in Philippines I believe, but have been used in the Ryukyus for hundreds of years as a windbreak. When I visited Kumejima, someone told me that farmers’ status was not high enough to allow them to have walls so they planted fukugi as a barrier to the wind. Very few people here as well…very wonderful to wander through the green canopies, raked-sand streets and breathe in that lovely sea air mixed with verdant trees everywhere.

boats and beach bf
The beach at Bise.
purple flower
a flower along the way…
restaurant in bf
a restaurant/shop on the paved section of Bise Fukugi Road.

rose in front of house

okinawa house and clothes
A private house along the path.
orchids and shelf
Orchids in the cattleya family…secrete a sticky fluid and catch insects.
little house bf
My dream house
heart on the street
Unexpected heart…
gloves and nets
life of a fisherman with the ubiquitous white knit gloves
fishing nets
Unusual nets, I don’t know what they catch with them.

sun through flowers

bise fukugi
Fukugi pathway
collecting algae
Collecting seaweed…
blue fish in tidal pool
Tidal pool..if you look at the bottom left side you can see the little blue fish swimming around…amazingly clear water.
blue fish and water
Bise beach, at low tide you can walk/wade over to the other island.
octopus water
Octopus hunter, armed only with a spear and snorkel mask: catches, kills and cleans たこ (octopus) from the sea.
guy with bag of octopi
Just a guy with a bag full of octopi (たこ)
octopus blood
Blood and ink in the water after the cleaning of the octopus.
my next truck
My next vehicle – Daihatsu HiJet!

I finished my outing with a stop off at my favorite soba restaurant in all of Okinawa. Nakamura is in Onna and normally on a Saturday afternoon, there would be no seat available. This day, sadly found very few people in the restaurant and an empty parking lot.

nakamura soba
Asa soba – seaweed soba (noodles) with san mai 三枚肉 pork….incredibly wonderful at Nakamura in Onna.
me and gajumaru
Me in Naha with a gajumaru (banyan tree) looming behind me.

Although it was delightful to have the island to myself, the impact is taking its toll on Okinawa. I am hopeful that the restrictions and the virus itself will lessen and the businesses will be able to recover. When you’re able, get on a plane and come back to Okinawa.

By the way, many of these photos were taken with my new iPhone. Apple has stepped up their game considerably.