Apr 18, 2004

26.12N, 127.67E, scattered showers

April 4 - After wolfing down a pretty decent "complimentary" buffet breakfast at our hotel, our next stop was Shurijo Castle, center of the Ryukyu kingdom that formerly ruled over Japan's southwestern islands. The castle and surrounding walls were demolished during World War II. Restoration of the Seiden (main hall) and other central buildings was only completed in 1992, and much of the park's outer area is still under construction. From Shurijo, we headed southeast to make a loop around the main island's southern tip. When it wasn't raining, the sun kindly shone to reveal aquamarine-to-sapphire waters off the eastern coast. A brief mid-afternoon jog inland took us to Okinawa World (Japanese only), where we visited something like a reenactment village. Nice diversion if you've got time, but I wouldn't put it on a sightseeing A-list. Might be more interesting if one visited the Habu snake museum, which we didn't. Next we mistakenly paid 800 yen admission to the Himeyuri Park - a park filled with nothing but cacti and a few banyans - thinking that it contained the Himeyuri Memorial. The memorial, which we found later, is dedicated to a group of young wartime nursing students who died while hiding in a hole in the ground. We also dropped by the Okinawa Peace Memorial in time to see the outdoor monuments before sundown. The museum had closed an hour earlier, but this was a "while we're in the neighborhood" stop for us anyway. We drove back to Naha for dinner, which included a taste of pig ear and other local treats. Service was slow - even for Sunday night? - so we swung by an izakaya (Japanese version of a tapas bar), where Rie had aloe sashimi and the owner told us about his younger sister in Utah.


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