Okinawa is known for its plethora of flower festivals in the first half of the year. It seems odd to be frolicking in blooming fields and strolling among blossoming trees in January and February, but that’s what I’ve been doing lately!
Not everything about this past weekend was depressing. During the “up” times, Chuck and I ventured out twice to explore some local Okinawan attractions. The first was Fukushuen Gardens in Naha, which is actually a Chinese-style garden established to honor the relationship between China and the Ryukyu Islands (of which Okinawa is a part.) The relationship goes back over 600 years, and as I have noted in previous posts, there is quite a bit of Chinese influence here. The gardens were lovely and expansive, even if the water was rather sickly green. I particularly enjoyed the large waterfall, the numerous turtles and fish, and the gazebo-like structures scattered about for relaxation and shade. Of course, there could always be more flowers! I told Chuck that when we are older and richer we can have a garden like that… so long as we get a professional landscaper to do all the work, since I have a brown thumb! 🙂
The second trip took us to nearby Katsuren Castle, which is only 25 minutes from where we live. In fact, we could see our Tower from the top of the Castle! Now, when I say castle, I actually mean ruins. There isn’t much to the place, but it makes for a fun excursion nonetheless. It dates back to the 15th-century, when a lord named Amawari reveled in its golden era. It is perched on a magnificent hill with a simply stunning view of the ocean and the village below.
Side note: it’s really interesting to see how the Japanese manage their tourist attractions. There were quite a few occasions where I thought to myself, “This would NEVER fly in the U.S.!” Case in point, the fact that there is no railing on the top of the castle (note the lower left corner photo of me standing on the ledge in the above collage.) There were a number of high-risk areas in the Fukushuen Gardens, as well – gaps in walkways over water, slippery stones, etc. Not that I mind. I actually really like that there is no added hindrance to the beauty of the sites. But in my American mind, I could only think of the lawsuits that could come out of places like these. The accidents! The children! Oy vey.
Anyway, here are some more shots of Katsuren Castle and its surroundings. I kinda want to go back for a romantic late-night picnic someday. It was completely unsupervised 😉