Caves, Pineapples, and Castles: Okinawa

It’s been entirely too long since my last adventure chronicles… Simply because I’ve been out gathering data! Field researching, experimenting. Call it what you like, fodder for writing (?), but I call it fun.

Okinawa last week -under the pretense of family vacation- was a great time. I was able to revisit old sites, reinvent old memories, and live out new thrills. I even got to drive again after about 8 or so months— initially nerve wracking but immediately fun within minutes (and ahem, increased speed limits).

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My two favorite places to see again were the Churaumi Aquarium, a far drive north, and Shuri Castle. Previously undiscovered gems include Fruits Land, Okinawa World caves, and somin champuru. Fruits Land was a sodden voyage through a man-made fruits forest, ending in free pineapple and a steep buffet lunch discount because of the rain. Not too shabby. Plus, my mom and I learned endless fruit trivia by trying to collect stamps on our treasure map sheet, which unfortunately did not survive the downpour dripping in from outside.

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We also came upon a lovely beach in the 20 or so minutes when it did not rain torrents. Yay. The next morning, we revisited the pottery studio I found on my last visit and made more shisa goods – a mini statue and a massive face.

When the troops arrived over the next two days, we had many a delicious meal, watched live dances and music, drove north and south, sampled endless freebies at souvenir stores, indulged in tropical drinks, browsed gardens, and walked along beaches in search of shells and relaxation. Somewhere in there we also squeezed in a pineapple theme park, Peace Memorial Museum and old army tunnels, and good ole America in the form of American Village and too much Blue Seal ice cream (never judge purple yam by its potatoey cover especially when shaped into desserts of all sizes and consistencies).

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All said and done, my mom’s and my weeklong stay felt much shorter. I could only imagine how the others felt after 4 or so blinks of daytime. By the following Sunday, I was back in Tokyo with a nice tan, a bag full of shells, and way too many souvenirs for friends and colleagues. Paradise must be shared.

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