Shuri Castle

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~February 2017

One of the few temples/castles (?) in Okinawa, Shuri Castle is a very famous one. Since I’m already in Naha, I figured I might as well go.

It took me a while to find it as I decided to walk rather than pay the JPY100ish bus, and the main entrance the google maps was pointing at is closed for renovation. Hence, I had to go around the castle, and boy, was it a big castle.

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This is one of the entrances that I had to pass through, and honestly, I was pretty impressed by the moat!
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But then I had to pay for the entrance! 😦 since I’m cheap and I’m not really fond of Japanese temples/castles, I decided to pass on this opportunity.

PS. Eat before coming here! The food in the cafeteria is NOT good, and it’s such a waste when Naha’s food is one of the best there is!

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A Walk in Nago

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February 2017

The Banyan Tree

While watching Scent of a Woman, they had a scene under the Banyan Tree. So of course I wanted to see one. How special could one tree be that you can find that specific tree in google maps?!

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Apparently, it IS pretty special. It had the history and all.
Ready?

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Dum dum dum dum! Yup, that’s all there is to it.
And it’s right near the bridge with some decent flowers. Oh, and the bridge is lined up with sakura.

Walking along the bridge, I finally reach the Nago Castle Park.

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That’s the sign saying Nago Castle Park.

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See?

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There are 400 steps, if I remember correctly. And the steps are lined up with Sakura, which makes this an ideal hanami (flower viewing) spot. When I came, there was still some hints of sakura left (You can see a bit of pink in some of the pictures)

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And here’s the view from the top of the steps. Oh, and the top contains the usual shrine.
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Under The Emerald Sea of Okinawa

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March, 2017

I figured if I’m going to do activities that scare the crap out of me, I’d rather do it in Japan where safety is a pretty big deal. So. Scuba diving.

I booked the tour with Marine House SEASIR Naha through Japanican.

  • How much: JPY12,000
  • What is included: hotel pick up, boat ride, all gear rental, lunch, personal guide.
  • What do you do: three stops – two for snorkeling, one for diving. So I strongly recommend against booking snorkeling, as with a little premium, you will have diving on top of snorkeling. Oh, and they’ll take your pictures too, no worries. So you only have to bring yourself.
  • Minor detail: You cannot fly 24 hours before and 24 hours after diving, apparently. It’s due to the air pressure stuff.

So around 7 or 8 in the morning, a van with their logo picks me up at my place of accommodation, then we get our gear from the shop (based on size). We then walked to where the ship was docked, and had a quick orientation and test run (e.g. how to breathe, hand signals). Off the boat goes, and we can snorkel from the first stop to the third stop. You get to choose when you wanna do the diving – I did mine in the second stop. Around lunch they serve food, while drinks (including hot coffee/chocolate) are available the entire time.

That’s all I’m gonna say – everything else is up to you to experience. ;P

Okinawa World

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~March 3, 2017

Okinawa has a LOT of themeparks. Okinawa World has basically two parts – the cave and the themepark. Since the latter seemed like the not-better version of Ryukyu Mura, I decided to just go with the cave .

How To Get There

Take bus 83. Now, the bus system in Naha are is lot more complex for a Non Japanese speaker like me. Actually, it’s not complex. It’s just that I can’t find the relevant information anywhere. (to be fair, it’s probably available… in Japanese)

Either way, bus 83 passes through the south part of the Kencho – city office. So look for the Kenchominamiguchi. It doesn’t show in my google maps, but Kenchokitaguchi does. So I searched for Kenchokitaguchi and located the pin.

Kencho is city office, kita is north, guchi is entrance (mouth). So. If Kenchokitaguchi is north, you can find the Kenchominamiguchi on the other side opposite it. And voila! I found it!

Now, if you think I’m talking rubbish, just go to the Kencho place and ask for Kenchominamiguchi.

Another option is to just go to Naha Bus Terminal. 😉

Once you get on the bus, the last stop is Okinawa World. Take note that it will technically NOT stop. It will take a u-turn in Okinawa World then go back to Naha. So wake up, sleepy head!

How To Leave

Take the same bus, same bus stop, to go home. Check the schedule. And be there 10 minutes before the allotted time. Nago buses are often a couple of minutes late. Naha buses aren’t!

Oh, and I missed the bus by around 110 seconds. As it was Saturday at 3:53pm, the next bus was around 2 hours away if I remember correctly, and I wanted to go to the Peace Museum. So I decided to walk… And that’s another story.

Quick tips

  • I just scanned through everything since I was trying to catch my bus, but it’s old Okinawa. So if you’ve been to Ryukyumura, this will probably feel a bit redundant. They have the habu snake stuff too (that I didn’t check).
  • The exit requires you to go through the entire place. So if you think that you can simply go out the way you went in, think again.
  • The cave is 21c (temp). So don’t bundle up too much.
  • The cave is also long. It’s one of the longest in Japan, and they have more than 800 meters for you to walk and explore.
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Look at those sharp rocks. You know what I was thinking while walking? Final destination.
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Sharp rocks everywhere. This is basically it the entire way…
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…except for the finale. See the note above? Apparently this is the largest of its kind in all of Japan.
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Oh, right outside is the pineapple. Maybe you shouldn’t got to the Pineapple Park either. Just go here.

Peace Memorial Museum

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March 4, 2017

This is a place I simply passed through – I came in at 5:30pm because I missed the bus going here from Okinawa world, and I decided to just walk the two hour path. Based on google maps, I should have gotten here around 5pm, but I walk far too slowly.

The place is pretty peaceful regardless, with plenty of space should you want to pass time playing on the ground or just sitting in the grass.

How to Get There

Very few buses pass here – none of which comes straight from Naha. So you either:

  1. Take bus 89 and go to Itomori terminal OR
  2. Take bus 83 and go to Gyokusendo (Okinawa World)

At which point, you can go take bus 82 to the museum’s entrance.

OR

You can be like me and walk two hours from Okinawa World to here.

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So since I got here far too late, and the last bus coming in around 6pm based on my estimate, I had to find the next bus stop really soon. All my gadgets are out of juice, so getting on the right bus was really critical. Unfortunately, google maps does not show the bus route, so I have to figure out my way on my own. Given this rush, I had to play the game “find the bus stop”.

Let’s Play a Game: Find the Bus Stop. I usually use the satellite view so I can see the actual place (from the top of course), particularly for the stops that aren’t integrated with google maps yet.

Now, this one has a spoiler alert to it. I’ve already encircled and erased the original picture, sorry.

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Thankfully there’s a map near the parking lot. With the actual map in the park and google maps’ satellite view, I was able to locate the bus stop, and get there. Didn’t make it on time though. 😦

Reversed Aquarium: Busena Marine Park

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March 2, 2017

Ever wondered what it feels like to be “inside” the aquarium? I think that’s the concept of Busena Observatory. Basically they have a tower about a hundred meters from the shore, and you can go at the bottom.

How to Get There:

Take bus 120, which comes around every 30 minutes. Check the routes here:

http://okinawabus.com/en/rb/rb_routelist/

Wait for them to say Busena (stop 8, but it seems that buses have different stops), it’s said pretty clearly. That’s the station you want.

How to Leave:

Take the same bus. 🙂

Quick Tips:

  • Target to go in good weather. The wind was a bit strong when I came so the glass boat wasn’t available.
  • If you are claustrophobic, reassess. The way down is a narrow passage.
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Walking to the observatory deck.
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Basically how the deck works. Oh, see the the waves? The wind was pretty strong.
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Peek a boo! They have some clownfishes (some Nemo’s) in cages.
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See the strong waves? Oh, sorry mr. fish, i’m leaving now

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ocean Expo Park, Not Just Churaumi Aquarium

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February 28, 2017

Seriously. They should stop saying Churaumi Aquarium and start calling it the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park. It isn’t fair! There’s plenty to see outside of the aquarium.

How to Get There:

Only three buses go to the park: bus 65, 66 and 70. (Bus 70 also passes through Pineapple Park and Fruits Land). Check the routes here:

http://okinawabus.com/en/rb/rb_routelist/

Look for 記念 公園前. That’s the station you want.

How to Leave:

Take the same bus across the street (opposite of where you got off). Check the last schedule of your bus going there, add a couple of minutes and that’s probably the last bus to go back. To be safe, the last bus comes around an hour after the close of the park, so I figure you’ll be safe.

Quick Tips:

  • Allot plenty of time to explore – this is a big park, not just the aquarium. There’s a garden, some shows, etc. It’s an entire compound.
  • Go for sunset!
  • Target to be in the park around 2pm – some aquarium events are scheduled around that time.
  • Prepare to walk a LOT.

 

Since I woke up late, I only managed to catch a bit of the park:

Dolphin Show

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I shamefully haven’t seen a dolphin show, so when I saw there was one, I immediately went to it. Oh, and it’s free!

Botanical Garden

 

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It IS the year of the chicken.

There were other “animals” in the compound:

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There also was a crab, an octopus, etc.

The Aquarium

Yeah yeah, here’s the highlight of the place:

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The entrance itself is cute, isn’t it?

 

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Upon entry, you’ll see an “open aquarium” where you can touch the sea creatures. I put my hand in, didn’t have the guts to touch the slimy looking black thingy. I’ve touched a starfish before so I didn’t even try this time.
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Look at the size of this lobster! It’s bigger than my fist! Oh, I want some butter and garlic on that!
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There are feeding sessions for the whale shark. You can view it from the theater (above) or from the big aquarium (below).
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This is probably the most used location in pictures.