1/5/15 – Sea Wall

From my journal:

Tomorrow morning we start a long journey home. Today, our last full day on this little island, we spent the hours walking by the ocean wall, we ate green tea KitKats, grocery shopped, read while sitting out on the patio, ate lunch at a chicken and waffle restaurant, had more of Julie’s awesome Yakisoba for dinner, and enjoyed our last day of hanging out here. Everything is packed already. It is only a matter of time before we are back.

To the friends that took such good care of us, thank you a million times over!

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Film photos from our last day:

1/4/15 – Kokusai

From my journal:

Today we walked around Kokusai – downtown Okinawa. There were street vendors, Okinawan doughnuts, fresh brown sugar being chipped off a large block, fresh pineapple on a stick, traditional places to eat, sweet beans and mochi, the fish market, crowds, malls, sales, lots of sunshine, the kids being happy, the craziness of Japanese streets and markets, Hello Kitty stuff everywhere…it was so much fun! We walked until our legs and feet ached. We did a lot of shopping, and I took a lot of photos again.

Today was great. This whole trip has been amazing, from the roller slides, to the food, and all the fun stuff we did in between. The best part is experiencing all of this with friends who love exploring and trying new things as well as we do. I can’t wait to come back and visit them again!

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Film photos:

1/3/15 – Koza Music Town

From my journal:

Today John and I went out to do a little exploring on our own of Okinawa City and Koza Music Town. There were a few places open, though many were still closed for the New Year holiday.

We did find an arcade where we played Mario Kart (so much fun!) and a small punk record and clothing shop. We had a good time and were quite worn out after from all the walking! I took a lot of photos of the buildings and empty streets. There is such a mix of new and run-down here. I remember noticing that when we were in Japan before on the main island, but I feel like it is more prominent here. It was a beautiful day to be out walking! And more sushi for dinner!

iPhone photos:

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Okinawa street…

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There was a one-block stretch of buildings that had the craziest wall murals painted all along them!

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Film photos from the day:

1/1/15 – Toguchi beach

From my journal:

Today was the first day that the weather was crummy enough that I didn’t mind spending much of the day inside.

We did spend theĀ  morning out exploring one of the local beaches – Toguchi. It had caves to climb around, and at low tide you could walk out pretty far on the rocks. Even though it was cold and windy, it was still great to be out there.

After lunch, John and I went shopping with Julie. We found a set of pots that I fell in love with, and after some research and realizing they aren’t sold in the US, we bought them. We also did a bit of clothes shopping at UniQlo. I am not ashamed to admit that I am kind-of in love with that store!

We made fried rice for dinner. Eric and Julie have been cooking for us multiple night, and we thought it was definitely time for us to make something!

Back to more adventuring tomorrow!

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Film photos from that day:

12/30/14 – Nakakazuku

From my journal:

Another day of exploring! After the day at the crowded aquarium, it was nice to go somewhere a little more quiet. We went to the Nakakazuku castle ruins today and spent almost 3 hours exploring and taking photos. The grounds were beautiful, and filled with flowers and green grass.

On the way we stopped at a small local shrine that was in the middle of getting ready for the New Years celebrations. The shrine was pretty high up the mountain, and the view from the parking lot was quite incredible!

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When we got to the castle, and looked out from the highest parts you could walk to, we could see the temple out on the hillside. We could see a lot from the top of the ruins!

We could also see a large abandoned hotel. The story goes that it has been abandoned for many years because the site is very haunted. The builder went crazy while constructing the hotel, building uneven walls and hallways. The hotel did eventually open, but closed as many patrons were dying because of the spirits that haunted the place. You can go on a “haunted island” tour and go through the inside of this hotel…but we opted just to look at it from a distance.

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Many places in Japan have special stamps that you can get for being a visitor. They are meant to go in a passport type book that kids can have fun filling up. I put my stamps from the castle in my journal.

I was having fun making panoramic photos with my iPhone while we were there standing on the top of the castle walls.

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Different parts of the castle area are roped off as they are still being excavated and preserved.

I took a lot of film photos…the most I have so far on this trip. Here they are: