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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sagaribana Garden, Nago City

A Sagaribana Flower at bloom

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Sagaribana Garden

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 37.754E 128 02.270






NOTE: It's estimated that the 4th of July, 2015 will be the last day the flowers will bloom

The Sagaribana Garden, Nago City

From late June to early July flowers from the tree, Barringtonia racemosa (also referred to as a Powder Puff Tree), bloom long into the night. In Okinawa these flowers (and the tree) are called Sagaribana (サガリバナ) or sometimes, Moukabana (モーカバナ). By the next day, these flowers will be gone as they die off and fall onto the ground in the early morning; these flowers only have a one night lifespan. This particular Sagaribana garden is on private property belonging to a Mr. Kinjo. He opens it up to the public during the season (late June/early July). For more information see below.

When: Late June/ early July. Early July the best (highly recommend to see before the first typhoon makes landfall during the season).
Time. 1900-1100. Flowers begin to open around 730pm. (It is recommended to arrive between 830pm-9pm. This is when they fully bloom).
Entrance fee: 200 ¥ per adults. Middle-school and below: free. Normally, Mr. Kinjo is on site. Please deposit the fee to him.

Recommendations. There will be a lot of mosquitoes during this time of the year. Please plan accordingly.

Parking. There is designated parking about 100 meters away from Mr. Kinjo’s property. You may see a sign in an open field just before you get to his property. You will arrive to the parking lot before you arrive to his property.

Directions. Take Highway 58 north into Nago City to the Highway 110/Highway 58 intersection. There will be a FamilyMart on the corner. Going left takes you to Kouri Island. Do not go left. Instead take a right (going west). You will reach another traffic light. You will have to cross it. (Do not veer left on the main road). Look for signs on each corner that have the words “サガリバナ” as posted here. Continue straight until you reach the designated parking lot (a sign may be posted and you may see other cars there). You will have to continue on foot and walk little further around the corner. You will see the garden lit up at night. Here is a picture taken during daylight.

Reference. National Taiwan University

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tanbo Matsuri - Rice Paddy Festival, Kin Town

Families at the Rice Paddy Festival


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Kin Town Rice Field Festival

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 27.391E 127 56.487





Rice Paddy Festival, Kin Town (たんぼ 祭り, 金武町)

Event: Rice Paddy Festival/Tanbo Matsuri (sometimes referred to as the Kin Town Mud Festival)
When: Sunday, 2015 July 5
Time: 1000-1800
Entrance Fee: Free, (Playing in the rice paddy is free). There are other kids activities that may cost from 300 ¥ to 1000 ¥ (kayaking, banana boat ride etc.)
Restrooms: On location.

Recommendations.
1. Swimming attire is recommended when playing in the mud.
2. Families often bring pool accessories, such as floatation devices and swim googles.
3. Bring an extra change of clothes. Bring a large bag to carry dirty/muddy clothes.
4. Consider bringing extra towels or blankets for your car seats. (Normally, there is a line for one giant wash station. It will not, however, clean off all the mud).
5. Try to make all restroom stops before attending the festival.
6. Consider bringing items for shade (hat, umbrella etc.)

Parking. There is designating parking. However, this can get full rather quick. In the event that it is full. Please observe where others are parking and avoid parking in areas that would cause congestion. This may require a little walking.

Directions. The event is located at the Nature Mirai-kan Recreational Facility in  Kin Town. Please view the map for the most direct route. If traveling north on Highway 329, take the first immediate left just before the Kin Bridge (designated by a pink thumbtack). You will travel down a hill and see the Kin Dam shortly after (it will be on your left). Near the bottom of the hill you will see an improved road that takes you east under the Kin Bridge and then towards the ocean. The Okukubi River will be on your right. The Nature Mirai-kan facility is near the mouth of the river. The rice paddy field will be about 100 meters away from the main facility.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kouki Beach, Nago City

Kouki Beach, Nago City


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Kouki Beach

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 32.298E 127 56.848





Kouki Beach, Nago City (幸喜 ビーチ, 名護市)

Kouki Beach is on the southern end of Nago City. It’s a nice beach with easily accessible accommoda-tions. This is a resort-free beach with no swim nets and few man-made structures on location. If you prefer the more natural scenery then Kouki Beach is an ideal place for friends and families. Below is park information.

General Information: See Kouki Beach Information Flyer
Hours, Summer season: 0900-2000 (April 1 – September 30)
Hours, Off-season: 0900-1800 (October 1 – March 31)
Entrance Fee: Free
Parking: Free (see image)
Swim nets: not available
Rental Space (Camping lot/Barbecue lot): 2000 ¥ ~ 2500 ¥  per day / till 11 am the next morning. See Kouki Beach Flyer (For reservations call number below) or visit the Kouki Beach Office on location. Camping/Barbecue lots are designated by numbered sections.
Camping lot locations: See Kouki Beach Camping Flyer
Kouki Beach Office (On location): 098 054 2567.

Facility Accommodations:
Wash stations (for feet): Free
Showers (for body): 100 ¥ / 3 Minutes
Coin Locker: 200 ¥ / Non-refundable
Toilet (Available): IMPORTANT! Toilet Paper is NOT FREE. You have to purchase toilet paper via machine for 100 ¥ / Must purchase before you enter the stall. They are not inside the stalls themselves. (Highly Recommend you bring your own toilet paper).
- A FamilyMart Convenience Store is within walking distance (200 meters)

General Rules:
- Barbecue using gas grills only (no charcoal). Barbecue at designated camping locations. Must reserve and pay daily fee.
- Please do not leave garbage behind, to include cigarette butts (Recommend bring your own garbage bags)
- Dogs and pets must be on the leash at all times. Please clean up their excrements
- Playing golf or riding motor bikes on the beach is not authorized
- Rude behavior and drunkenness towards others is not acceptable
- The staff at Kouki Beach are not responsible for lost or stolen items or damage to personal property.
- Camping Tents/Barbeque activities/fireworks are not permitted on the beach. Camping tents and barbecue activities are permitted on reserved lots (must pay daily fee)

Recommendations. At Kouki Beach there are no shaded areas on the actual beach. It is recommended that you bring your own equipment for shading. To use several accommodations, bring ample enough of 100 ¥ coins.

Direction/Parking. Kouki Beach is right off of Highway 58. There are no visible road signs pointing you to Kouki Beach. Take Highway 58 north into Nago City. Kouki Beach is about 1 km north of the Busena Resort and 200 meters south of the AJ Koki Resort. The AJ Koki Resort will have a FamilyMart on the first floor. The FamilyMart will be a noticeable landmark. Parking is free (see image).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"Chasing the Shark's Fin"

The Shark's Fin of Teniya, Nago City


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Chasing the Shark's Fin

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 33.016E 128 06.484
     
       *GPS data is to the starting point



Chasing the Shark's Fin (Nago City)


At different points along Highway 330 off the northeastern shores of Okinawa you may notice several shark fin-like rocky mounds near the coastline. One in particular stands prominently among them. This is the 'Shark's Fin' of Teniya near the northern border of Nago City. Naturally, some will be curious to know how they can get there for a closer view. To do that...you either have to travel by boat, kayak, charter a small plane, ride a glider, or by the most affordable means – on foot.

As you get closer to the Shark's Fin you have to scale small rocky cliffs or walk in waist high water to continue on the other side. Waters in these areas are somewhat shallow to a few hundred meters out. However, the closer you get to the Shark's Fin the rougher the water gets. But the Shark's Fin is not the only thing to see along the way, and you don't have to go all the way to have a good time. The scenery itself is breath taking.

Author's note. In fairness, the entire trek was not completed...meaning I did not go the Shark's Fin and then go all the way back where I started. I continued further to see what was on the other side in the next town. After 4 hours of the being in the relentless Okinawan summer heat, dehydrated, and exhausted from the journey, the thought of going all the way back was not exactly greeted with open arms. I was fortunate enough to meet a kind fisherman who would give me ride back. He laughed at the idea that I would walk this far in the first place.

Since I did not travel back the same way I came in I cannot give you a first hand account if the change in tides will have an effect on your return trip. As a precaution I would base your travels based on the tide information. The furthest you have to walk in the water is about 50-75 meters at about waist height in relatively calm waters.

Starting point. Your starting point begins at the beach parking area in Kayo designated by a Green Thumbtack in the map above. GPS coordinate above is to this area.

Timeline. Plan on 1hr and half to 2 hours getting to the Shark's Fin. Included in this time are your water breaks, photo breaks, bathroom breaks etc. Again you don't have to go all the way to the Shark's Fin to have a good time.

Places of interest along the way.
-Kayo Beach. If you are not interested in beach trekking, the beach at Kayo is just a nice and relaxing place to visit all together. The scenery is relaxing and peaceful since the waters here tend to be very, very calm. You will still be able to view the fin from a distance.
-Bonsai style tree. About 500 meters north from the starting point you will see a large mound with a very beautiful bonsai style-like tree on top. The tree from a distance looks like one big tree, but up close you will see that it is actually two large pine(?) trees next to each other. Being so exposed to the elements, it is a wonder how they survived through years and years of severe weather.
-Small Waterfall. The second estuary will lead you to a small waterfall. It is about a 20 minute hike along the stream. This can be a culminating point for your journey should you wish. The waterfall is small about 15 feet high with low volume of water gushing through it (depending on the season). The pool of water is nice if you just want to sit and cool off and can easily fit 6 people. You will see many spider webs along the way. The waterfall is at GPS N26 33.330 E128 7.466 and is marked by a Pink Balloon Icon on the map. Note. The creek bed leading away from the 1st and 3rd estuaries were not investigated.
-Unusual rock formations. Once you reach the Shark's Fin you will notice unusual rock patterns on the cliff-side. This was the only area along the trek with these unusual rock patterns of this nature (that I could tell) and it may say something of the unique geological history of this particular area.
-The Shark's Fin. At last, the Shark's Fin. At this point you have just traveled 3.5 Kilometers (2.12 miles). Congratulations!

Can you get to the Shark's Fin from the north? The answer is yes, and considerably takes a lot less (maybe 40 minutes) to get to your destination. However, the scenery along the way is not as impressive and there is one place you have no choice but to walk in the water up to middle-chest to shoulder height of water for about 30 meters depending on the tide as you are clinging to the rock side. The waters here are little stronger than the southern starting point.

Other Photos. Click here or the above photo album to see pictures taken up to the Shark's Fin.

Recommended Guidelines.
Fitness. Getting to the Shark's Fin requires a good level of physical fitness and physical agility. As mentioned above, the closer you get to the Shark's Fin you will have to scale over rocky terrain. Sometimes the safest way is to cling to the side and walk in the water. For the most part it should be knee to waist high water but this may vary depending on the tide. You can pretty much walk 90% of the way on the beach alone. Most of the climbing is manageable, but one slip can lead to a bad day.
Bring plenty of water. Having plenty of water is a must, even if it is not too hot outside.
Nourishments. Recommend a small backpack with snacks (waterproofed of course).
Plan on getting wet. Waterproofing certain valuables is highly highly recommended (i.e. cell phone, camera).
Shade. Cover up with a hat or towel particularly if you are going to be in the hot sun. There are very few areas along the way for shade.
Slipping. Rocks along the coral cliffs can be very, very slippery. Recommend something other than tennis shoes that have good traction and you don't might getting wet. Recommend hiking gloves.
Bring a few buddies with you.
Center of gravity. Use three points of contact and keep low center of gravity. Take nothing for granted on these rocks.

Mapping Points. Other LandMarks you will see during your trek have been posted on the map above.

Directions. The starting point (Kayo Beach) is right off Highway 330. Look for this Landmark on the right-hand side as you are traveling north. It will be next to an old school. It is about 30 minutes from the time you leave Highway 329 onto Highway 330.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"The Yohena Ajisai (Hydrangea) Gardens"

Ajisai or Hydrangea Flowers at the Yohena Ajisai Garden


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Yohena Ajisai Garden, Motobu

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 38.831E 127 56.707





The Yohena Ajisai (Hydrangea) Gardens, Izumi


You can never fall short of seeing beautiful flowers here on Okinawa. Around mid-May to the end of June marks the season for Ajisai's, or better known in English as Hydrangea Flowers. In Izumi of Motobu Town, and elderly woman named Mrs. Uto Yohena, turned her home landscape into beautiful flora display of Hydrangea Flowers. She first opened her garden to the public in 2001 (Mrs. Yohena turns 96 in 2013). Since then she has greeted visitors from all over the island as they come and gaze over her purple beauties. In October of 2010, Mrs. Yohena was formally recognized for her deeds and received the “Regional Contribution Award” by the Okinawa Times Newspaper. She is one of the friendliest 'Oba-chans' you will ever meet. Though Hydrangea Flowers make up most of the scenery (mainly purple), you will see various other flowers of different colors and species.

Visitor Information.
Time Period. Mid-May to end of June (2015, May 17 - 30 June)
Admission Fee. Adults: 300 Yen, Children Ages 7 – 18: 100 Yen, Children 6 and Under:  Free
Hours. Open Daily during viewing season 9am to 6pm (till June 30)
Parking. Available and Free.
Website (In English). http://www.geocities.jp/tomotakayo/englishM.htm
Website (In Japanese)http://www.geocities.jp/tomotakayo/
Phone Number. 098 047 2183
Restrooms. Available
Baby Strollers. Though there are some areas that will facilitate the use of baby strollers, there are other areas that can only be accessed by the use of stairs. Plan accordingly.

Considerations. Consider visiting the garden before the first Typhoon hits Okinawa. June marks the beginning of Typhoon season.

Related Articles. Other photos visit www.ryukyulife.com

Directions. From Highway 58, take Highway 84 going towards Motobu. You will see signs for Highway 123. Continue on Highway 84 passing the Highway 123/Highway 84 T-intersection. Shortly after, you will pass an ENEOS gas station (on the right). As soon as you pass this Gas Station, you will turn left. Look for this Orange-shape structure on the left-hand side. The turn-off will be before this structure. From here look at the Google Map and follow the Blue and Green Route. The Green Route takes you to the Yohena Ajisai Gardens. Look for this sign off the main road which directs you to the Yohena Garden parking lot. (Note: The entire Blue Route takes you to the Natural Stone Garden).

Source of Information. Interview with Mrs. Yohena's daughter, Yohena Ajisai Garden Website.

Other Places of Interest Nearby. Shizen Sekitei (The Natural Stone) Garden.