15 January 2017
09:58AM After breakfast this morning, we had a couple of hours to spend on our last day here at Narita. In groups, many of us walked along Naritasan Omotesando Street( 成田山表参道) Everything definitely looks different and more lively in the morning, where the street was flooded with people and tourists.
~11:00AM As we thank Katsumata-san and his helpers for his hospitality and aid, we get ready to leave for the airport where we soon depart for Naha, Okinawa.
12:42PM Before taking the train to catch our flight, I lose my Pasmo card and my phone. Thankful for the honesty of Japanese people who handed in my phone to the lost and found.
02:36PM Departing for Naha soon! Very excited for 20 degree warmth!
07:26PM Finally arrived in Naha, Okinawa, where we stay at our first hotel in Toyoko Inn.
08:42PM We had dinner at a local Okinawan restaurant for some Okinawan food! It was an interesting experience to eat food I wouldn’t usually eat but glad to say that I enjoyed it!
10:15PM Whilst some headed for some late-night stroll at Kokusai Dori 国際通り, some of us took the opportunity to go back to the hotel to rest and chill after a long day’s travel.
16 January 2017
09:52AM Leaving Asahibashi to Shuri Castle. So I’ve noticed that cute cartoon characters like these are usually used for official and non-official signs. It does its job well for being both easily understandable yet engaging.
10:28AM After a 15-20min walk, we’ve nearly arrived at Shuri Castle (首里城, Shurijō).
10:37AM Kankaimon (歓会門)
10:45AM An entrancing entrance to the castle. I cannot believe that I’m walking on the grounds of once a highly prosperous and independent kingdom. I feel so inferior.
11:00AM Having a tour inside the main hall, the Seiden. Wearing these boots seem to be the wrong choice, not a big fan of taking my shoes on and off. But I do appreciate the cleanliness of this place, so I guess it’s okay! ^^
11:48AM Left the castle. Although I’m greatly amazed by the grandeur of the former Ryukyu Kingdom, I can’t help but miss a particular ambience in regards to the tangibility of their history throughout the walls of this newly reconstructed castle.
01:20PM Lunch at an Okinawan market place. Having Okinawan soba.
02:15PM Tsuboya Pottery Street. I wasn’t able to take photos of the pottery, but they were so cool, most popular items were the shiisa (a traditional Ryukyuan decoration – a lion-dog roof guardian from Okinawan mythology), containers (kara-kara) for serving awamori, the local sake, and many other beautifully designed mugs, bowls, plates, etc. We also met a random American lady!
03:56PM Walking through Heiwa-dori (平和通り, Peace Street) and kokusai-dori (国際通り, International Road)
07:32PM We are serenaded with Okinawa’s iconic song, shima uta,( 島唄, island song) sung live by these local artists as we enjoy our Okinawan dinner. This song just hit me straight in the feels. Such a bittersweet song, a deep sadness expressed through such a beautiful melody usually accompanied by the simple yet heart-piercing min’yō (民謡).