Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kukasai Street

I am not sure that I spelled the name of this street correctly, but it is close enough! Today we spent a few hours checking out all of the little shops on this touristy street in Naha. It was actually a few blocks from the castle we went to last weekend. If you ask me, it is a bit of a tourist trap, but what else did we have to do?! There were tons of t-shirt shops and you wouldn't believe how many stores there were that sold liquor. I guess that is a favorite Japanese pastime!
Oh I almost forgot that they have vending machines EVERYWHERE! Here is a typical one you would find randomly on the side of a street.
I went a little camera happy today, so I hope you enjoy all of the photos I took!
As you will soon notice, they LOVE animation here. Everything has some sort of cartoon character on it. I even saw a foot doctor's sign that had a few little monkeys. Quite strange, if you ask me!

Here I am with good ol Mario from the Super Mario Brothers. Gosh, he hasn't aged a bit!
The purpose of this trip was to actually find John a pair of Shisa dogs that he so desperately has to have. These dogs usually come in a pair and are made out of some sort of ceramic or clay. They resemble a cross between a dog and a lion and are said to be the guardians of your home. When found in pairs, the shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right an open mouth. The open mouth to ward off evil spirits, and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in. (Stolen from Wikepidia). I am not exactly a fan of these little guys and especially not a fan of all of the mythology that goes around it, but as long as they stay outside (like they are supposed to) it is fine with me. We found out today that they are incredibly expensive! We saw some that ranged from $250 to $2000!!! Sorry man, we will find some elsewhere! We did, however find a few large ones that I made John pose with!

There was a cool flea market type area with some great looking produce. I probably should have brought some home. I don't exactly have a good selection at the military grocery stores.
This particular fruit caught my eye. I need to research it and find out what in the world it is!

Speaking of food, I had to stop and take a picture of a McDonald's menu on the sidewalk. I haven't been brave enough to try it, but John says it is great!

As John mentioned in a previous blog, there are two types of beers brewed on this island: Orion and Helios. They had a Helios pub on the street, so we decided to stop by and have our first taste!

Here is a fun picture John and one of the many plaster sidewalk characters taking a break.

After a long day of walking, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant near our house. Now I use the term "Mexican" loosely. This was our first Oki-Mex (as my friend, Sara calls it) experience, so we had an open mind. It wasn't half bad! We both got the Mexican lunch plate that came with one enchilada, one taco, rice and beans. The Okinawans are really big on "all-inclusive" type meals where you get soup, salad, an entree, dessert and tea or coffee for one price. Now don't get too excited, usually they are all very small portions, and you never know what you will get with the desserts. This time it was a brown-ish-clear Jello-like thing, with maybe a hint of butterscotch flavor! Yum. Haha. We couldn't really complain, especially after our meals were only $8 each!
Whew, so that was our day! Then we took the puppies to the beach so they wouldn't hate us for leaving them at home all day! Those crazy pictures will be left for another post!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shurijo Castle

Sorry it has been so long since we wrote a blog. There hasn't been much to write about and I have been in a bad habit of forgetting my camera! We have been a little busy as well. Our final shipment arrived this past Thursday and I could not be more excited! My house finally feels like a home with all of my belongings in it and not some hideous government furniture. It is still quite crazy in here, so I'll post pictures once it is clean and things are put away!

Ok, so I will get after it. After church, John and I decided to visit Shurijo Castle. It has been here since the 1400's and they still hold large festivals there.

I am not exactly a fan of history, so if you want to know the details, check it out on Google! Besides all that, the majority of the plaques were in Japanese, and the ones that were in English weren't translated very well! Needless to say, it was quite beautiful and we were glad we got to see it! Haha!

Right outside the gates you could pay to dress up and have your picture taken. I wanted to do it, but it was crazy hot outside and those long kimonos didn't seem too comfortable!

When we went inside, we had to take our shoes off. Now if you know me at all you could probably imagine how grossed out I was having to walk barefoot in the same place as hundreds of other bearfoot people! Note to self: Always keep a pair of socks on hand!

There was a large part of the castle where cameras were not allowed, but here is where they held traditional tea ceremonies for the king.

I loved the architecture of the entire place. The walls were all made of bamboo.
Outside were beautiful views of Okinawa and the Naha Harbor.

Here is the throne the kings sat on. John wishes he had one in his house. For now he will have to stick to the couch!

So there you have it! It was a pretty short tour, but certainly interesting!