Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chinese Garden and Karaoke Night

Lately, the weather has cooled off a bit and it's really nice to be outdoors. This weekend, we drove into Naha City and visited a shrine. There seemed to be a christening going on, so we couldn't get up too close to view the inside, but we got plenty of great photos with our new fancy camera. 

Shrines are also good places to contemplate one's life and future, and who can resist a fortune when it's only 100 Yen? You deposit your money in the box, and then randomly select a fortune to discover how your life will be in various categories such as money, friendship, love, and finding that thing that you lost a while ago. 

Our fortune for this year, by the way, is excellent. 

Once you've read your fortune, you can either keep it somewhere safe, or you can tie to a string at the shrine. 

After the shrine, we wandered through a picturesque Chinese garden. The garden was gorgeous with tall towers, shady resting areas, rock waterfalls, fish ponds, and statues. 

Later that night, we walked around our neighborhood, Okinawa City and found a Karaoke Hall. We rented a private room and took turns belting out our favorites. Who knew that time could go that fast...

Fish and Foot Fun

Last Sunday we discovered a fish market that is really close to our house, and that's good news since we have decided to add more fish into our diet. We had heard that the best time to be there is 1030 am when the boats come in and offload all the fresh catch of the day. We had no trouble finding the market and were surprised that we had driven by it several times and never even knew it was there.

We had a fun time walking around the market looking at all of the fresh fish, eel, squid, and other alien looking things available! Fish mongers stand behind a glass walled area and slice, gut, and prepare anything that you might like right in front of you! Lots of gore behind the glass as you can imagine...all you have to do is get a number and wait for your turn to order. Not such an easy undertaking when you don't understand the language! After waiting a few minutes and holding our number out without being helped, Mary finally jumped the line and asked for help. Within no time we had three fresh tuna fillets.
The other half of the market was a restaurant. The few people that were there had some large orders of soup, noodles and fresh sushi. We will have to go back some time and try their food.

Outside of the market was a little park with a baseball field and a strange, small walking path and a sign showing two feet- a reflexology guide. Many Asian cultures believe in exerting pressure on different parts of the foot to treat ailments in the body. It is believed, for example, that pressing on the big toe can relieve a headache and so on. This intrigued us so much that we decided to investigate. Being adventuresome sorts, we wanted to see if this eastern treatment would help our western feet. The path was made of little stones in different configurations like an obstacle course, and it looked like it would relax and soothe our feet. Boy, were we ever wrong! There was only one word to describe it and you can tell from our faces, painful. We made the full circuit around the course, but that was enough for us.

All though the foot therapy course was not what we expected, we thoroughly enjoyed our tuna and look forward to going back to the market again. Maybe we will give up meat completely, NAH!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tug of War!

Each October 10, about 20 thousand locals come together in Naha City to celebrate a centuries old tradition called "Tug of War". Two sides representing East and West compete against each other in pulling a huge rope made out of rice stalks. The winning side is rewarded with good luck and prosperity that year. 

The tug of war festivities begin with a lone musician playing a flute that looks like a broom.

Next, there is a parade of the 10 prefectures in Naha. Each prefectural team walks as a group while balancing a heavy tall pole decorated with their insignia at the top. Surrounding team members hover nearby with long poles ready to intervene if the pole bearer begins to drop it!  

In addition to the district poles, children from the district march along and bang gongs and drums.  When the parade comes to a stop, individual children step to the front and begin doing karate routines.  It was a load of fun to watch.  It was one of the first times that we have really felt like we were experiencing a piece of Okinawan tradition.

After watching the different districts we decided to take a quick break and try a local restaurant.  We had a tasty meal of taco rice, pork and rice, soba and seaweed.  Once we had filled our stomachs we continued to walk along enjoying the area.
We finally made our way back to Route 58 to wait for the Tug of War.  By the time we got there all of the district poles were on either side of the two ropes.  We quickly started making our way down one side until we saw an area that only had a few people waiting to man the ropes.  By the time we were allowed to walk to the rope and grab a strain to pull, we were surrounded by both Okinawans and Americans, young and old, and even  dog or two.  Everyone there was looking forward to the tug of war.   Before the tug of war could begin the two ropes had to be joined.  The ropes were brought together and joined by using a huge wooden peg.  When the call to begin sounded everyone began to pull with all of their might.  In about 5 minutes our side was called the winner.  Once the winner was named it became a made dash to cut a piece off the rope to take as a souvenir.  Some people walked off with a good 10 feet of rope!  We are not sure what to do with it, but we did grab a piece for ourselves.  

In all, we had a wonderful day down in Naha.  We want to go down there again and see what else we can find.


There's nothing quite like beer with apple strudel!

Saturday night we headed to Oktoberfest at Camp Foster. We weren't sure what to expect at a German festival "Okinawa" style, but we weren't disappointed! When we got there, we were handed a beer stein and entered a banquet hall with tables in long rows full of swaying happy people.  All of the Okinawan servers were in make shift lederhosen (a peculiar sight as you can imagine) and a German Oompa band played all the old favorites. 

If I have to hear and watch the Chicken dance one more time ...

Beer was free flowing the whole night and the food was very tasty. We enjoyed the brats,  wiener schnitzel, red cabbage, German potato salad, cheeses, and ofcourse, the apple strudel.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin