8.24.2011

Cliff Climb

Adam is a climbing monkey.
He has been researching all the rock climbing that Okinawa has to offer since before we arrived.  Lucky for him, one of my favorite places on the island, Cape Zampa, offers a 150 ft cliff wall! 
Here are some pics from last weekend.  Adam rappelled down the cliff, reached the bottom and explored the caves and boulders below, and then climbed back up.  I had my feet planted firmly on the ground the entire time...camera in hand.  I have more to live for at the moment.  :)


 The sun was bright and shining right through the water...This is also a pretty popular diving spot on the island.Adam was getting ready to rappel! 

See the rope on the left?  He anchored it in 3 places to be on the safe side...or to appease me.  Down he goes..

 He made it look so easy.  Here there's my shadow!

 He looks SO far away at the bottom...a tiny little person surrounded by huge boulders. 
 I love this picture of him walking towards the cave at the bottom of the cliff...in comparison to how small he is, it really shows how huge the mouth of the cave was!

 Beautiful Zampa..
 It was a bright sunny morning, around 8am. 
 Straight down...
 Then he started climbing back up...There were a few spots that were overhung and he had to work pretty hard to get up and over.  I was holding my breath.


 Adam!  I know you're tired, but say cheese!

He made it look so easy...I was so impressed!  The climbing part was fun to watch and everything, but I must say that my favorite part of the day was when we got home and he uploaded the photos that he took from the bottom...and then I saw this picture:
I LOVE THIS PHOTO!!  He's a climbing photographer...amazing!

8.23.2011

Bowls and blogs


I was finally able to pick up the bowls that we made in the pottery class a few months ago.  Here they are!  Love the green!  Perfect fruit and veggie bowls.

Before we moved to Okinawa, we tried to find out everything there was to know about this island.  The absolute best resource we could find was http://okinawahai.com/
This blog has everything about everything, and the posts are submitted by anyone and everyone on the island who want to share their experiences.  Plus, every submission awards you $15, and after 10 submissions, you become a 'contributor' to their network.  Well, a few days ago I was published on OkinawaHai!  Check it out!  It will look very familiar because it's the same post that I put on my own blog about how to make a Spicy Tuna Roll...
There will also be several more to come within the next month or two that have already been accepted.  It's cool to see your name on a post that SO many people look at on a daily basis.  Upon arriving in Okinawa, we realized that OkinawaHai is just part of people's vocabulary and comes up in conversation daily.  I'm excited !
Hope everyone is getting through the heat of summer! 

8.19.2011

Kokusai St

 Kokusai Street is the fun, hip part of Naha.  This is where all the parades and festivals are held...lots of cute shops, weird novelty items, and tourists.  It was a fun stroll.
check out some of the oddities, inviting storefronts and local faces...
I loved all of the entrances into the cluttered knick knack stores, jewelry shops, and restaurants...

Umm...not sure if these REAL frog/toad purses are in style here in Okinawa...but I couldn't bring myself to unzip one and look inside.  These are made from the real thing, they feel like a soft leathery gutted frog.  gross.

Here are more of the frog purses...any takers?

As if the frogs weren't enough, we also found entire display walls with jars of Habu Snake Sake.  Otherwise known as Habu Sake. 
Double the snake, double the alcohol content?!?


This limber fellow was writing kanji...beautiful strokes of a brush create not only words and stories but beautiful works of art.

We walked from one end to the other...this was the south end of Kokusai.
We wandered upstairs in one of the crowded shops, and found this!  A secret stash..

The cute faces of Japanese kids...So adorable.  Kids here are so independent from a young age.  When school is in session, you will see kids as young as 5 years old walking by themselves down the sidewalks of busy streets on their way to school...

Probably my favorite part of the day...Pickle benches!

8.16.2011

Eisa Dancing gone wild

video

Eisa Dance

The 3 day Obon Festival in Japan came to a close yesterday.   The last day typically involves partying, singing and dancing...Now, I know...because while peacefully sitting in my apartment, I heard a banging drum coming from somewhere in the neighborhood.  It lasted for a few minutes then it stopped for awhile.  Then it was as if someone turned the volume up and the drummer was right outside our window... loud drumming, clapping and shouting coming from outside.  I went out on the balcony and saw this:

First I woke Adam up in case he wasn't already awake from the loud banging and music; then I ran downstairs as fast as I could and came face to face with an age old Japanese tradition..it was truly moving.  And FANTASTIC!  They were having so much fun!
 The thatched roof truck to the left had a 4 man band inside who were playing sanshin (Japanese banjo type instrument), some kind of flute and singing.  They had mics and amps and the music was booming throughout the neighborhood.  As I stood watching the performance, I looked around at all the people who had come out of their homes to watch...everyone was smiling and dancing to the beat.

They were Eisa Dancers, which are unique to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, and involve dancing, chanting, drumming, singing and waving around a giant heavy flag while wearing traditional costumes.  It was amazing!  I could not believe that they were right outside our door performing in a neighbor's yard.  They go around to different neighborhoods and apparently ask permission to perform.  It's an honor to have the Eisa Dancers perform by your home because during the Obon Festival, this is a time when the spirits of ancestors return home, family gather together, and the memory and spirit of the dead are respected.  The dancers are actually welcoming the spirits with their chants, drumming and dancing.
Everyone was moving in unison, smiling, laughing...some had crazy painted faces...it was also the middle of the day and around 90F outside...but they were jammin.
 Everyone dispersed and the dancers and drummers cracked open their cold beverages...I was on the way up the stairs and noticed that they had gone around to the other side of the apartment building to another home and just when we thought they were finished they began performing in their driveway.  So we had an aerial view performance as well.  (which we also have a video of!  I will try to upload to the blog)  
Then they all piled up into a few trucks, still drumming and drove away.  Later that night you could hear the drums coming from somewhere nearby...another surprise show to welcome the ancestral spirits back home. 
 
Really really neat and unexpected experience.  We were pretty hyped up after it was all over...did that just happen?

8.13.2011

Makishi Market

 The great port city of Naha is Okinawa's hustling and bustling metropolis...lots of people, lots of things to see and do.  We hadn't really ventured far enough south to be in the heart of Naha, until this Saturday.   I was dying to go to Naha's open air farmer's market that is a must-see for anyone visiting Okinawa.  Specifically, Makishi Market.
I read about it a little before going to see what it's all about.  Turns out, Makishi Market started out as a black market after WW2.  They have every variety of every part of every animal for sale...including dried snake, a pig's every organ including the head, sea creatures of every shape, size and color...(including the freshest sashimi in all the land!) and lots of different sea weed, kelp and edible underwater plants.  Before you even enter the market, you can smell the fish as you get closer.

 (if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or an advocate for animal rights...you may want to continue with CAUTION, or just stop viewing here.)

 I don't know what these are...if you know, please fill me in...but I love these two old Japanese ladies hard at work in their aprons, piles of boxes along the walls...selling who knows what, fresh from their gardens.

 Oh, Hello!
We walked into a separate chilled area where you are introduced to a rainbow of fish upon entering.

 No joke, there were lobsters that looked to be 3 feet long in some of these tanks.

Do you see those little eyes watching the lobsters?
I love this pic...this little boy is wide-eyed and peering into a big lobster tank while his Mom barters with the fish salesman...what an amazing sight for a young lad.

 These fish were everywhere!
 Fluorescent!!
You can buy fresh fish from the market, take an escalator to the 2nd floor, and there they will cook your fresh purchase for you to dine on at one of the many open tables. 
 mmm, sashimi...can't get much
fresher than this.  And yummy tenticles for your palette!
A variety of underwater seaweeds and kelps to choose from...who knew they could be so colorful.
 
 No idea what this slimey selection was...

We moved on to the red meat...
PORK
Bacon anyone?
Or pig's snout perhaps?
That's one cool pig.
And here's the rest of him:
 
 a whole lotta meat..


This was such a fun hustling bustling market.  The sellers are handing you things to try, carrying, chopping and packaging fish and meat...the smell is so strong inside...I worked up an appetite.  So I decided to try raw pig jowls.  why not?

Just kidding!  
We stopped in at a yogurt place and had delicious Okinawan lemon frozen yogurt...mmm so good!!  I'm totally hooked on it!