Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Greg & Denise's Visit to Okinawa!

Okay so I'm still playing catchup. I've finally posted all my pics from our trip to Dubai/Abu Dhabi--so now I can move on to my brother and sister in law's visit. I want to thank Greg and Denise in advance for providing some great photos!

Right after Kev and I returned home to Okinawa, my BIL and SIL (Greg and Denise) came to visit us for a week.

Neither one of them had ever been here before, so Kev and I really wanted to show them all the sights and expose them to as much Okinawan culture as we could. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very cooperative. It rained A LOT. And it was cold. I know I shouldn't really complain, but when you're used to a subtropical climate-- rainy, windy, 50 degree weather is not at all pleasant.

With the weather being less than stellar, Kev and I did our best to entertain.

We managed to go to Nago Pineapple Park where Greg and Denise had their fill trying all the free samples. This place is great because you can see how the Okinawans use pineapples in almost everything: wine, chocolate, cookies, cakes, I mean EVERYTHING.

Here's a photo of Greg and Denise at the Pineapple Park.

Kevin and I at the park.

I even got a pic of a local Okinawan speciality. Habu Sake. Yes, that is a snake in there. The Habu is a poisonous snake that lives on the island. Drinking sake with habu is said to increase stamina and virility, especially in men. Drink up, boys!!!

After the Pineapple Park, we headed to Ocean Expo Park and the Churaumi Aquarium. (Kev and I went to the aquarium when we first arrived on the island. We liked it so much, we decided to get "annual passes" :)).

Now I've been to many aquariums--the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, the New England Aquarium in Boston, the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii, even the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I have to say the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is definitely my top favorite. Why you ask?

Because of the whale sharks. That's right. Whale sharks. This aquarium actually has a tank large enough to hold 3 whale sharks. And they are huge....

We lucked out on the day we went because the Expo Park was hosting several special events in honor of the New Year. We were able to get Denise and Greg to try their hand at "mochi" making.

We also saw some Eisa dancers and a lion dance.

(Greg took this one!)

Here's a photo of Greg and Denise posing with some girls dressed in traditional Okinawan kimonos. (These last two photos are compliments of Denise.)

Later in the week, Kevin went back to work. So I played tour guide for a day and took Greg and Denise to "Ryukyu Mura." This "village" attraction is designed to look like a traditional Okinawan village during the Ryukyu Kingdom. The village has several houses dating back to the era and even has live entertainment.

This is a photo I took of a "shisa" in front of one of the houses in "Ryukyu Mura."

This is a traditional water wheel.

This is all of us after we were entertained with a live "skit." Although I can speak Japanese, I had a hard time understanding them. Okinawa has its own language and it's completely indecipherable to me....

This is a photo of a traditional Okinawan-Ryukyu dance. I'm not sure what it's called.

We also read our fortunes (called "omikuji" in Japanese). Normally, if you receive a bad fortune you are supposed to tie them onto a tree (in this case, a house) so that your fortune doesn't come true. In this case, since all of us received good fortunes, we decided it would be best to tie them so that they WOULD come true.

Here's a photo of a water buffalo. During the Ryukyu kingdom, Okinawans used water buffalo to grind raw sugar cane plants into sugar. Brown sugar is still a very popular product here in Okinawa.

Here are some photos from our trip to Naha's Shurijo castle.

I think Greg and Denise really enjoyed their visit to Okinawa. They are now on their way to Tokyo and Kyoto (on the mainland) for a few days before they fly back to the States. I hope they are having a good time. :)


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