Posts Tagged With: Nature

A Walk through the Okinawan Jungle

About a month ago, Casey and I took a trip to Bios no Oka, or Bios on the Hill, a park celebrating Okinawan flora. It was a very hot and humid day, but I just had to check this place off my Okinawan “bucket list” with my adventuring life partner. 😉

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We ventured through all of the paths we could find, climbing beautiful sets of stone staircases along the way. Casey showed off his skills on stilts (after which some adorable elderly Japanese women smiled and told him to be careful).

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We then took a leisurely boat ride guided by a funny little Japanese man. I know that he was funny because he must have been telling jokes in Japanese while he led the tour down the river, as the rest of the boat passengers kept laughing. I could understand almost one out of every ten words he spoke, so unfortunately his jokes were lost on us.  Fortunately, we were there for the scenery rather than the comedy show, so all was not lost. (It did, however, renew my motivation to achieve fluency in Japanese).

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Along the way, we saw gorgeous orchids, a sad ox taking a bath, and a beautiful woman in traditional Okinawan garb.

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After our boat ride, we trekked through this awesome bunch of lily pads, along a little bridge built out of rope and 2 x 8 boards, dodging banana spiders all the way.

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Overall, it was a great day spent with my love. I am always inspired by the respect and reverence the Okinawans show for the land they call home. We have so many more adventures to share here, and I am already dreading the moment when we leave this gorgeous rock.

With love and lily pads,

Amanda

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Categories: Okinawa, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Hiking to the Falls

A few weeks ago, Casey and I went out with a group of friends to witness one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. About an hour north of the base where we live is Tadake Falls, a gorgeous waterfall hidden in the Okinawan jungle.

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We trekked along a small river, climbing slippery rocks and dodging giant wasp-like horse flies and floating palm-sized spiders. (This monster was floating along on a raft fashioned from a live grasshopper).

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At various points along the river, we hiked over slippery rocks and swam across fairly swiftly-moving portions of the river. Casey, unable to resist an opportunity to play Tarzan, stopped to jump from a small cliff into the river.  When we arrived at the waterfall, I was amazed at how massive it was.

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This definitely made the list of places in Okinawa I will never forget.

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A Light Stroll in a Japanese Garden

One of our first outings here on Okinawa was to this beautiful little garden nestled into the city of Naha: Fukushu-en  Garden.

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It was as peaceful as they come, with calm waters surrounding beautiful ancient Chinese architecture. Constructed using material from its sister city of Fuzhou, China, Fukushu-en Garden was built to celebrate the role of Chinese influence on the history of the island.

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We enjoyed feeding the turtles and coy (living symbols of longevity and wisdom in Chinese culture) in the ponds, although the fish were so aggressive that the poor little turtles did not get their fair share of the food, despite our attempts to aim it right at them.

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I am sure we will be back to visit, when we need a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Okinawa streets.

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Where do you go to find peace? I hope there are turtles there, too. 😉

Always, Amanda

Categories: Okinawa | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

From the End of the Earth

Over a month ago, before Casey left for an exercise in Thailand (which he returns from today!!!!), we witnessed quite possibly the most beautiful place on the planet. While I am unqualified to make that statement, as I have not in fact visited every location on Earth, I can honestly say that of all the places I have been, this was the first to take my breath away. Hedo Point is at the northernmost tip of Okinawa; so as I stood on the rocky, volcanic cliffs looking out at the ocean, I was overwhelmed by the limitless expanse of clear blue waves.

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May all be well in your world today. May you find peace wherever you are in this beautiful world. I know mine is on his way home, and I could not be happier.

Always, Amanda

Categories: Exploring, Okinawa | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Snakes, Caves, and Habushu: Oh My!

Simultaneously one of the coolest and creepiest adventures we’ve had thus far here in Okinawa, was our trip to “Okinawa World.”  This park is a major tourist spot in Okinawa, so naturally we had to check it out. The first stop inside the park was to the Habu museum. The Habu viper is a mean, poisonous snake indigenous to the island, and this museum was dedicated to it. P1030501

Here are about 100 habus just chilling in a tree in a lowered fenced-in pit outside the museum. As you can see, these are not friendly beasts. Inside the museum we saw everything from the insides of a dead habu (because who wouldn’t want to see that)?:

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… to a dead habu eating another dead habu:

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… to two dead habus mating:

P1030499Even worse than the dead habu displays was the habu show. In the early 1900s, in an effort to control the habu viper and cobra populations, mongoose were brought over from India and introduced to the forests of Okinawa.  Later, people made a sport of fighting mongoose and these venomous snakes. Over time, the mongoose population devastated local indigenous species and as a result, the Japanese government is working to eradicate them. Anyway, inside Okinawa World’s habu museum, there is a mongoose-snake competition, although today it is a bit different than it used to be. According to the pamphlet that was handed out, in the year 2000, they switched from a mongoose-cobra “death match” to a friendly swimming competition between the mongoose and a sea snake.

After the swimming competition, (which, as you can see, the mongoose dominated… the fear of drowning is probably an excellent motivating influence) the snake handler brought out a habu viper and made it attack a balloon. After that, she brought out a very angry cobra and slapped it a few times in the back of its head so that it hit its head on the floor. Of course, everyone but Casey and I laughed. I decided this was the last time we would ever see this show.

Next, we ventured beneath the earth to see the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. Gyokusendo cave is a 5-kilometer long cave where we were able to see over a million stalactites and stalagmites. It was an amazing limestone labyrinth.

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The lights illuminating the pools of water made for a gorgeous sight.

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The pictures do not do this an ounce of justice. It was, in a word, amazing.

After the cave, we wandered around the rest of the park and saw everything from sad animals in tiny cages to a traditional Ryukyuan village, to a glassblowing shop, to strange local fruit trees, to an Okinawan distillery where they were fermenting Habushu, or Habu Sake. This is a type of awamori where they ferment the liquor and then put dead snakes inside it. We’ve seen this sold all over the island in bottles with a snake inside, but this was much more intense than that.

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Stay tuned for more adventures!

Always, Amanda

Categories: Nature, Okinawa | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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