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    • Day 184

      Okinawa, Japan

      June 13, 2023 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 81 °F

      New-to-us Port #52.

      We spent most of the morning at sea traveling from Keelung, Taiwan to Naha, the port for Okinawa, Japan.

      At dinner last night, Captain Maro had mentioned that the Port Authority schedule showed the pilot coming aboard Insignia at 10:30a. As it turns out, the pilot came aboard earlier and everything went like clockwork from there. The only exception … a last minute change to our departure time … moved up by 30 minutes due to an approaching storm that the bridge team wanted to get around sooner rather than later.

      Okinawa being our first Japanese port of call, we had face-to-face immigration formalities to deal with before we could go off to do whatever sightseeing we could fit into our short day. The set up was quite efficient, with port officials directing us at every turn. Fingerprints recorded; photo taken; passport stamped. With the first shuttle into the city scheduled for 12:30p, we had time to get Japanese Yens from the ATM in the terminal after clearing immigration.

      Today’s plan called for us to take the Yui Yui train (monorail) from the station near the shuttle drop off point to Shuri-jo [Shuri Castle] … our first opportunity to see how public transportation works in Japan. Couldn’t have been easier. Minutes after purchasing our tickets, we were on the train, heading to Shuri Station. With each stop being announced in advance in both Japanese and English, and the station number clearly noted on the display, knowing when to detrain was easy peasy.

      Leaving the station, we ran into Younga and David who were apparently on the same train. We joined forces on the walk to Shuri Castle Park … and ended up sharing the rest of the day with them.

      Shuri wasn’t always a district of Naha. At one time, it was the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shuri Castle was the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu kings until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879.

      Originally built in the late 1300s, the castle played an important role in the political unification of the island. It was destroyed by wars and fires many times over … most recently in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and in a fire in 2019. The consequences of the latter are still visible today in the form of barriers and walls that hide the ruins from curious eyes while reconstruction work continues . Thus, there wasn’t much to see, which meant that we spent less time at the castle than anticipated.

      The on and off rain — from drizzle to downpour — made for a soggy afternoon. But we didn’t let that impede our meandering wander, which eventually led us from the castle to the royal mausoleum of Tama-u-dun, also inscribed on the UNESCO WHS list. It was built in 1501 on the orders of King Sho Shin to re-entomb the remains of his father. Constructed in the style of a royal palace — a stone structure with a wooden roof — it later became a necropolis for the second Sho Dynasty.

      The mausoleum consists of three rooms. The east room was the burial chamber for the kings and queens. The west room was for the remaining family members. The center room was where the remains were placed before the bones were washed. Essentially, it was in this room that the body of the dead person was placed in a coffin and left until such time as only the skeleton was left. At that point, the bones were removed from the coffin, washed, and either cremated or re-entombed as is.

      Our visit at Tama-u-dun started out in the exhibit hall where we purchased our tickets. I’m glad the attendant encouraged us to go to the exhibit first as it gave us a better understanding of what we would be seeing … or rather, not seeing. You see, one cannot go inside the mausoleum where the funeral urns are housed. Pictures of the urns and a scale model of the tomb helped shed light on everything.

      From Tama-u-dun, we followed the very precise directions we received from the woman at the ticket office to get back to the monorail. This time, we walked to Gibo Station, which was slightly closer. The plan was to get off at the Makishi Station, walk to the public market by the same name, wander around a bit, and maybe get some food.

      Once we detrained, the market was about a 10-minute walk. After checking out the fish market, we wound up at the food court on the second floor. There were a number of choices for food. Menu boards complete with photos were helpful in understanding what was what. We settled on an eatery recommended by fellow-passengers we ran into. The food, unfortunately, was so-so, but it worked to tide us over.

      By the time we were finished with our early dinner, it was 5:00p. We still had to get to the shuttle stop to catch the last bus to the ship at 5:40p. Nonetheless, we took the time to do some shopping first … sashimi-to-go for Younga from the fish market and delicious mini pineapples grown on Okinawa for us. The mangos looked great, but at USD $32 for just two, we abstained.

      We arrived at the shuttle stop with 10 minutes to spare. The ride was quick enough. The tour buses had already returned their passengers, so we had no lines to deal with at the terminal. By 6:00p, the gangway was being removed.

      Captain Maro got his wish for an early departure. In fact, our lines were cast off around 6:15p, and Insignia left its berth under the heaviest downpour of the day yet. We’ll find out once we are in open seas if we’re going to be rock ’n rolled to sleep tonight.
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    • Day 107

      Strolling & Monorailing in Naha

      January 1 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      Today was a beautifully sunny day, and it was time to return the rental car, before we refueled and did that we made a final small journey to a scenic old stone road called Kinjo Stone Road, there was an open traditional Okinawan Building near a big Spring well, a little side trip also led to a location called Shuri Kinjo Big Akagi Tree, it was like a small green paradise in the middle of the residential area. Once we explored enough we got rid of the Rental Car, funnily enough they had accidentally miscalculated the days and given us a day more and I had to explain that the 4th day of rental was indeed finished and they would have to take the car back today 😅 What a way to run a business. Next, we went into the city to enjoy lunch at the Kokusai street food market. After some fine dining we bought a day ticket for the Monorail and immediately went to the ferry port, to inquire about our options. We will visit Zamami Island in the Kerama Island national park 🏝️ tomorrow, leaving at 10:00 with the car ferry, arriving at noon and returning at 16:20 with the Jet Foil. The afternoon we spent riding the mono rail from one end to the other, which was quite fun as it was like hovering over the city with cool and interesting views on both sides. The evening I spent near my new, old hotel, doing some final shopping and enjoying cocktail lounge time which saved me the cost for dinner as they also served some tasty food with the alcohol, coffee and Softdrinks. A big earthquake occured in the afternoon at 4PM in the Ishikawa prefecture (central Honshu), it was not affecting me since the Ryukyu Islands are far away from the epicenter, but I spent the evening following the news, hoping and wishing 🙏 that the people in the affected areas would be okay and stay safe.

      Google Translate:
      Heute war ein wunderschön sonniger Tag und es war Zeit, den Mietwagen zurückzugeben. Bevor wir tankten und dies taten, machten wir eine letzte kleine Fahrt zu einer malerischen alten Steinstraße namens Kinjo Stone Road. In der Nähe eines alten Brunnens, befand sich ein offenes traditionelles okinawanisches Gebäude, ein kleiner Abstecher führte auch zu einem Ort namens Shuri Kinjo Big Akagi Tree, es war wie ein kleines grünes Paradies mitten im Wohngebiet. Nachdem wir genug erkundet hatten, entledigten wir uns des Mietwagens. Komischerweise hatten sie sich versehentlich mit den Tagen verrechnet und uns einen Tag zuviel gegeben, und ich musste erklären, dass der vierte Miettag tatsächlich heute abgelaufen sei und sie das Auto heute zurücknehmen müssten 😅 Was für eine Art, ein Unternehmen zu führen. Als nächstes gingen wir in die Stadt, um auf dem Kokusai-Streetfood-Markt zu Mittag zu essen. Nach einem guten Essen kauften wir ein Tagesticket für die Monorail und gingen sofort zum Fährhafen, um uns nach unseren Möglichkeiten zu erkundigen. Wir werden morgen die Insel Zamami im Nationalpark Kerama Island 🏝️ besuchen, um 10:00 Uhr mit der Autofähre abfahren, um 12:00 Uhr ankommen und um 16:20 Uhr mit dem Jet Foil zurückkehren. Den Nachmittag verbrachten wir damit, mit der Einschienenbahn von einem Ende zum anderen zu fahren, was ziemlich viel Spaß machte, da es sich anfühlte, als ob wir über der Stadt schweben würden, mit coolen und interessanten Ausblicken auf beiden Seiten. Den Abend verbrachte ich in der Nähe meines neuen, alten Hotels, erledigte ein paar letzte Einkäufe und genoss die Zeit in der Cocktail-Lounge, was mir die Kosten für das Abendessen ersparte, da dort neben Alkohol, Kaffee und Softdrinks auch leckeres Essen serviert wurde. Am Nachmittag um 16 Uhr ereignete sich in der Präfektur Ishikawa (Zentral-Honshu) ein schweres Erdbeben. Da die Ryukyu-Inseln weit vom Epizentrum entfernt sind, hatte es keine Auswirkungen auf mich, aber ich verbrachte den Abend damit, die Nachrichten zu verfolgen und zu hoffen und zu wünschen 🙏, dass die Menschen in den betroffenen Gebieten die Katastrophe heil und sicher überstehen.
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    • Day 61

      Perfect Day(s)

      March 15 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      Manuels Beitrag: Heute durften wir einen der schönsten Tage seit Beginn unserer Asien-Reise erleben: Entspannter Start in den Tag, mit der Monorail zur Burg Shuri, Spaziergang durch Parks, schöne Gegenden, Tempelanlagen, Royal Garden. Gute Gespräche mit Einheimischen auf Englisch, Spanisch und Italienisch gemischt und kleine Pause in einer der besten Bäckereien überhaupt. Die Stadt hat etwas sehr beruhigendes und friedliches gleichzeitig.Read more

    • Day 4

      金城町石壘道 Kinjo Stone Passage

      June 3, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      I followed the trail, from Shikina (識名) and Hantagawa (繁多川) area walking up to Shuri (首里) the area where the king lived before and the officials went to palace.

      Please find the big tree near Kinjo Stone Road (金城町石疊道), the passage to royal palace, and the protective stone 石敢當!Read more

    • Day 104

      South Okinawa Roadtripping

      December 29, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      The weather today was cloudy, yet warm. We visited castle Shuri, a famous landmark of Okinawa that sadly burned down completely in 2019. Since then diligent reconstruction works are underway. The reconstuction work of the Seiden main Building, could be seen in the giant indoor area, I am sure they will do an excellent job at restoring this beautiful castle. In a side note, they had a Stamp Ralleye that would result in a beautiful 4 color Postcard. I could also collect another castle stamp. This time no. 100 of the 100 famous castles. This stamp will most likely be the last now. Afterwards we made a clockwise circle around the southern part of the isle, stopping and checking out many interesting coastal areas. In the afternoon it started raining again, and the rain will likely continue all day tomorrow, so we will most likely do some indoor shopping and sightseeing.

      Google Translate:
      Das Wetter heute war bewölkt, aber dennoch warm. Wir besuchten die Burg Shuri, ein berühmtes Wahrzeichen von Okinawa, die leider 2019 vollständig niederbrannte. Seitdem werden sorgfältige Wiederaufbauarbeiten durchgeführt. Die Rekonstruktionsarbeiten am Seiden-Hauptgebäude konnten im riesigen überdachten Hallenbereich besichtigt werden. Ich bin mir sicher, dass sie bei der Restaurierung dieses wunderschönen Schlosses hervorragende Arbeit leisten werden. Nebenbei bemerkt hatten sie eine Stempel-Ralleye, die am Ende eine coole 4-Farben-Postkarte ergeben würde. Ich konnte auch noch eine weitere Schlossmarke sammeln. Diesmal Nummer 100 der 100 berühmten Schlösser. Dieser Stempel wird höchstwahrscheinlich jetzt der letzte sein. Anschließend machten wir eine Runde im Uhrzeigersinn um den südlichen Teil der Insel, machten Halt und erkundeten viele interessante Küstengebiete. Am Nachmittag fing es erneut an zu regnen, und der Regen wird wahrscheinlich morgen den ganzen Tag anhalten, sodass wir höchstwahrscheinlich drinnen einkaufen und Besichtigungen machen werden.
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    • Day 41

      אהבה בלתי מוסברת לחתימות

      September 11, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

      בכל מקום תיירותי (וגם כאלה שלא) אפשר לקבל חותמות (Stamps) כדי להוכיח לאנשים אחרים שבאמת היית שם.
      זה ממש פופולרי, אנשים לפעמים עומדים בתור כדי להחתים.

    • Day 41


      September 11, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

      אז מתברר שככה קוראים לחיה המיתולוגית של אוקינאווה. למרות שזה נראה כמו אריה דרקוני, מתברר שזה כלב.
      נשברתי. קניתי פסלון קטן של זה. הכי תיירי שלי עד כה

    • Day 41

      ארמון Shiro

      September 11, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      מצחיק קצת שלמקדש קוראים שירו (לבן) למרות שהצבעים הדומיננטים כאן הם שחור ואדום.
      בתמונה השניה יש את כיסא המלך, מעוטר בדרקונים. Badass!

    • Day 17

      Naha - Tag 3

      May 9, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

      Nachdem wir uns nun einen Tag erholt hatten, dachten wir uns, dass wir wieder auf einen Trip gehen könnten. Wir gingen nach Shuri, wo ein schönes Schloss bestaunen konnten. Im Schloss gab es ein kleines Cafe. Dort genossen wir Jasmin-Tee mit chinesischen Keksen (das Schloss hatte einige chinesische Einflüsse in der Vergangenheit). Um den Rundgang zu vervollständigen, gingen wir noch ins Mausoleum. Am Abend setzten wir unseren Filmabend mit Tokyo Ghoul fort.

      After this relaxing day we thought that we could do again a bigger travel. We went to Shuri where we could see a beautiful castle. Within the castle there was a litle Coffee house. There we enjoyed a Jasmin-tea with chinese cookies (the castlr had some chinese influence in the past). To complete our sightseeing tour we went to a mausoleum in the end. At the evening we continued our movie-night with Tokyo Ghoul.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Shuri-ikehatachō, Shuri-ikehatacho, 首里池端町

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