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Cherry blossoms in bloom: Taking kids on a cultural journey through Nakijin Village.
post : 2017.03.01 08:00
On a Friday evening, my three children rushed into the house while I'm cooking and burst out, “mom, Cherry trees have flowers!”
So I asked them, “do you want to go to Nakijin to see cherry blossoms tomorrow? They are having a cherry blossom festival.”
Their reactions were mostly not enthusiastic…
My elder daughter: “No, thanks”
My son: “Actually I prefer playing dodge ball.”
...But, my younger daughter: “ Yeah!! I Wanna go!!”
I guess my younger daughter and I are on our own.
So, we decided to go on a day trip up north to Nakijin Village to enjoy cherry blossoms.
First, we head to a World Heritage site, the Nakijinjo Castle ruins, where the 10th Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival is going on. It takes about 90 minutes from home and it is a perfect destination for us as a day trip. You can reach the festival area after viewing a street lined with with pink flowered cherry trees and paved with traditional Okinawan stone pavement. The great scenery from the top of the castle is something you should not miss.
I see lots of people, food and craft vendors near the ticket booth. Now we are ready to go to the castle ruins. Oh no…my daughter doesn't want to go…
Guess why..? It turns out she found some ice cream vendors. I know she won’t move unless I get her ice cream. It is a typical occasion on a trip with kids. Instead of making her unhappy, better feed her so I will have easier time. It worked. Now, she is happy.
As we walk through the street made beautiful with cherry blossoms, we could observe and enjoy the early stages of blooming. I look for chances at great photos.
Daughter: “Mom, how about this?”
She presents the flowers with her small hands.
She seems to enjoy being a hand model for me. She keeps finding different things like nuts and bugging me to take pictures of her hand.
“Why don’t you take another picture (of my hand)?”
It’s been five years since our last visit. She doesn't remember it of course, as she was just two-years-old at that time. Once the castle appears in front of us, I just look up with admiration at the outstanding view. Photo shooting is a must for both tourists and locals at this location.
From the top of the castle ruin, the panoramic view of the blue ocean can be seen. The islands of Izena, Iheya and Yoron are all viable from here.
My daughter enjoys the view of the emerald ocean behind the nozuradumi (ancient method of of laying stones) wall.
She's hungry from walking.
So we decided to eat at Nakijin Soba, where my friend is working.
The great ambiance created by bougainvilleas and the old Okinawan house with its cement roof tiles makes us feel like tourists.
The clear soup has lots of character even with just one sip. A lot of work must have gone in to creating the taste. The spareribs are very tender and they go great with the chewy homemade noodles.
The soba set is comes with seasoned rice and sweets. After lunch, we decided to go to the nearby beach.
At Nagahama beach, Ie Island with its landmark tachuu can be seen.
The ocean in spring has a different beauty from the one in summer. The clear blue water and the seaweed aosaare the signs of spring. The water is a bit cold for swimming, but it seems warm enough for kids to play in.
Looking at my daughter on the beach, I would like to come back with the rest of my family in the summer.
A trip just for the enjoyment of spring was worth the three-hour round trip drive from our home in Uruma City, located in the center of the island. We enjoyed a day of nature and “maasanmun (good eats).”
This year will be seventh year since our family moved to Okinawa. We have had some wonderful day trips, playing tourist. Stay tuned for the next issue!
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: monobox (Tetsumasa and Kozue Kono)