A couple weekends ago (I know I'm behind!) we had a fun filled weekend exploring Okinawa more. We started our weekend picking up Nate's work partner Joe, and his family from Naha airport. Since we were down in Naha we decided to check out a new restaurant called Watami. It was kind of like a Japanese tapas place with lots of small dishes that we shared. It was pretty tasty and we had all types of dishes like steak & onion, chicken, steamed dumpling, gyoza, and pudding for dessert.
The next day we decided to go snorkeling at Maeda Point, which is one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling and scuba diving. It also apparently has one of the 3 blue caves in the world which I'll have to check out once I'm scuba certified. At the top of the cliff they have an ice cream shop and small snack shop, so we filled up with some Okinawa soba (noodle soup) before we hopped in the water #dontswim30minsafteryoueat #wedidntdie You have to climb down these steps down to the ocean, and there's like 30-40 ft of coral only 3-4 ft under the surface of the water with so many beautiful fish. #ourownprivate aquarium
See photos below:
After snorkeling, we decided to swing by Zanpa lighthouse since it was on our way home. It is on the tip of Cape Zanpa and was built in 1974. It stands 30 meters tall.
Apparently, before the Battle of Okinawa in World War II, US troops occupied the Kerama islands (40 km south of this cape) and on March 26th, 1945, they advanced toward this cape as a landmark for Okinawa. They landed on Zanpa Beach on April 1st, and that's when the battle began. #history #gettineducated
Now the cape (and beach) are a beautiful scenic spot and if you climb the 100 steep stairs to the top of the lighthouse #workout! you have gorgeous views
Driving home from Maeda Point and the lighthouse, we went through Yomitan village and to my pleasant surprise, there was an Obon parade!! What is Obon you ask? Obon (お盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places, and they visit and clean their ancestor's graves, and the spirit of the ancestors are supposed to revisit household alters. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years, and is celebrated in July and August throughout Japan (different regions celebrate at different times according the their lunar calendar). In Okinawa, it was celebrated August 26-28 this year.
There are three nights of Obon. The first day is called, Unke, the welcoming day. The doors of homes are opened to welcome the ancestor spirits. Their butsudan (Buddhist alter) is prepared with offerings of food and drink, while family members stand at the door to welcome the spirits as soon as darkness falls. The second day is followed by Nakanohi, the middle day, where most people spend the day visiting their family butsudan and bringing gifts.
Eisa is a dynamic, spirited dance which is not only vital to Obon but also considered a symbol of the Ryukyu Islands (which Okinawa is a part of). On the last night of Obon, Ukui (the escorting day), while the ancestral spirits are retiring back to their graves, the village Eisa dancers will perform dances on the street and in front of homes. #gettineducated
I love the history and culture of Japan and Okinawa and wish we had more festivals and traditions like this back in the states. I was very honored to be able to witness part of these Eisa dances.
After the Obon festival we hopped back in the car and on the way home we discovered Okinawa Brewery (their tasting room in Yomitan). Hallelujah I found some craft beer! And they even import beer from the States including #stone and #ballastpoint. This made my day.
After we got home, we went to dinner with our friends Alex and John. I met Alex at the gym and we decided to have our hubbies finally meet. Success! We had a blast and even took them our new favorite spot on gate 2 street, Prince, a fun little local karaoke bar. And I introduced Alex to Tokyo Teas #sorrynotsorry #shewassorryinthemorning #theypackastrongpunch #wheninrome
All in all, a fun successful weekend discovering and exploring our little island.
I'll leave you with "yoi ichinichi wo"
Pronounced yo - echee - neechee - wo, which means have a nice day.
Next blog I'll write about our labor day weekend, where we went to a Japanese cooking class, and Orion Beer Fest.
Until next time!
Follow in our Footsteps
2 Chome-6-30 Ameku, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0005
Hours: 5pm - 1am (3am on weekends)
〒904-0417 Okinawa Prefecture, Kunigami District, Onna, Maeda, 469−1
(check sea conditions before going)
Uza, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0328
Hours: 9am - 4pm
Price to go to top: 200 yen (adults), 100 yen (kids)
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Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!