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Oh, Oh, Okinawa

JAPAN | Wednesday, 18 September 2019 | Views [30]

Orchids at the airport, Naha Okinawa

Orchids at the airport, Naha Okinawa

ORCHIDS LINING THE WALKWAY TO BAGGAGE CLAIM give the impression that Okinawa is an island paradise.  Outside the airport the reality, at least through my eyes, is something less.  Okinawa is the island of “cube cars” of all makes and colors.  And of cars3 — cars cubed!  Traffic is horrific.  

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                            Cube cars3

To make matters worse, the rental car sat nav that we raved about on Honshu and Hokkaido doesn’t seem to work with Okinawa’s telephone numbers.  Even using “History” to retrace ones path home is iffy since the destinations are written in Japanese.  You have to gestimate a distance that seems right which may get you to the right neighborhood.  Or not.  “Right church, wrong pew” as it were.  Our “condo” has free parking and great wifi — if you can find it.  Otherwise it’s bare bones.  There is a microwave but no dishes, glasses or flatware.     

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   Flying Sandpiper                            Slithering Mudskippers

It’s hot and humid with rain always a possibility.  Connie had read about the two top birding spots on the island and we managed to coax the satnav into getting us to them.  The tide was too high at Manko Waterbird and Wetland Center for the shorebirds.  It also floated all of the rubbish from the harbor into the mangroves.  Triangle pond was even worse.  This didn’t feel at all like Japan, more like a poor SE Asian country.

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        Shuri-jo Castle

We were able to locate Shuri-jo Castle World Heritage Site and the Tama-u-dun Mausoleum.  From 1429 until the late 19th Century, Shuri-jo was the administrative center of Okinawa’s Ryukyu Kingdom.  It wasn’t until 1879 that Ryukyu became Okinawa Prefecture of Japan and many people still consider themselves Okinawans.

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      Tama-u-dun Royal Ryukyu Mausoleum

Tama-u-dun is the 16th Century mausoleum for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom.  Both the Castle and the Mausoleum were heavily damaged during the Battle of Okinawa in WW II by three days of shelling from the US battleship Mississippi.  I have seen the results of a bombardment by the New Jersey in Vietnam and it ain't pretty!

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We finished the day at Kadena Air Force Base where we used our military id to pick up some American items at the Base Exchange, do a load of laundry and get John a much needed haircut.  It’s not quite a Jethro Gibbs “high and tight” cut but it is shorter than he hoped.  We also took time out to have dinner with our friend Creighton, whose dad served with Connie.  We last saw him at Aviano AFB in Italy in 2012 when he was a kid and a sergeant.  Now he’s a man, a tech sergeant with nearly 14 years of service.  One of America’s finest.

 

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