Search Map It! Okinawa

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Nago Green Bridge and The Lower Creek Park"

The Nago Green Bridge

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

The Nago Green Bridge and Lower Creek Park

     N 26 35.209E 127 59.591

Nago Green Bridge and The Lower Creek Park

If you are driving on Route 18 from the east side of the island and coming towards Nago, you will see the "Nago Green Bridge". It will just hit you as you turn the curve and pass the treeline. This marks your entry way into the heart of Nago City. Soon as you cross it you will have the Orion Brewery to your left and the Nago Castle Ruins to your right.

Underneath the Nago Green Bridge is a park in the lower creek area. This is a great place for shade and to relax. Some people park their cars underneath the bridge. There are some steps near the creek you can just sit and relax. You will sometimes see families and kids in the creek looking for fish or crawl dads. There are other places you can sit and relax. See photo album above.

Next to this park is the Nago Castle Ruin. This deserves a whole blog post on its own. Just a little warning though. If you decide to go up the castle ruins, be prepared to walk.

At the lower creek park, they have bathroom facilities and soda machines.

Other places of interest nearby:  Ato no Utaki (Kyoda)Giant Shisas (Kyoda)Water From Hands (Kyoda), Todoroki Waterfall, The Nangusuku Castle Ruins, Nago Museum.

"Haneji Dam Family Picnic Area"

Haneji Dam Family Picnic Area

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Haneji Dam Family Picnic Area

     N 26 36.527E 128 01.195

Haneji Dam Family Picnic Area

If you are looking for a great place for a family picnic, this is the place. This is the Haneji Dam family picnic grounds in Nago. Though somewhat out of the way, it may be a great stop on your way back from the Ocean Expo Park or nearby areas. The best time to be there is when the afternoon sun has somewhat subsided into the treeline or if it is cloudy day.

You will mostly likely see other families there playing in the water (see photo album above). Just park your car and relax a bit. There is a visible post of what is not allowed: No overnight camping, no pets off the leash, take out any pet droppings, and leave no trash. Basically, pack out what you bring in. They do have some provided shade, but you may want to bring your own shade just in case.

Getting there isn't hard if you are coming back from Okuma or Expo Park. Look at the map for landmarks.
The Haneji Dam family picnic area lies along the Haneji Dam Nago City Bypass. There is an entry way to look for (see photo album). Otherwise you may pass right by it.

What to bring. Camera, tent or umbrella for shade, slippers for getting into the water, bath suit for kids.

Note: I did not see any bathroom facilities in this area nor soda machines. There is an upper viewing area not far above (driving distance). There may be restrooms there. I have to verify next time I am there.

"Scenic Route 18 and the Haneji Dam Nago City Bypass"

View of Haneji Dam from the Upper Level

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Scenic Route 18 & the Haneji Dam Nago Bypass

Scenic Route 18 and the Haneji Dam Nago City Bypass

If you are in for a drive or headed up towards the Expo Park or to Okuma, I recommend taking either Route 18 (Green Route above) or the Route 18/Haneji Dam Nago Bypass (Yellow Route above). The latter route bypasses Nago City completely.  When headed up towards the Expo Park or Okuma, most people take the expressway and exit the last toll station (Exit 10) and then take the 58 to either the Expo Park or Okuma. The problem with this route is that you tend to run into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Most resorts are along the 58 and so you get an influx of traffic from tourist who use the 58 going north.

Both routes will take you eventually to the 58. Route 18 takes you into the heart of Nago City and ends near the Orion Brewery. You will see the "Nago Green Bridge" as you arrive towards the end of Route 18. You won't miss it. It hits you as you skirt around the treeline. The Route 18/Haneji Dam Nago Bypass is what I recommend if you want to skip the traffic all together. Once you arrive to the Highway 58 Interesection you either turn right to go to Okuma or left to go to the NeoPark or the Expo Park. I've included pictures of the Haneji Dam in the photo album.

How you get on the route coming south. If you are coming from Courtney or Kadena, take the expressway and get off Exit 9 and go north on 329. Once you pass Camp Schwab, you will soon reach the 331. Hang a right and follow it through a couple of tunnels. Eventually, you will see the Route 18 turn off (See map for landmarks). If you are coming from Camp Hansen or Schwab, just take 329 north to the 331.

Once you are on Route 18, at some point you will go through another tunnel and the Haneji Dam turn/intersection will apear. You will see a sign. If you don't turn off, you will continue on Route 18 into the heart of Nago. At the end of Route 18, you will see the "Nago Green Bridge", the Orion Brewery (to the left), and the Nago Castle ruins (to your right).  If you do turn on the Haneji Dam route you will then take a nice route over the Haneji Dam. There are some different scenic view points along that route. Eventually you will run right into the 58.

How you get to the Haneji Dam/Route 18 from the 58 (coming north from Okuma). There is no visible mark off the 58 to tell you where to turn. Look at the map closely and at the picture of landmark (see photo album) of what to look for. There is a statue of a small baby boy at the turn off on 58.

How you get to Route 18 from the 58 (coming north from Expo or Neopark). Look at the map closely. Route 18 does not start from the 58. There is a large pedestrian bridge at the intersection along Highway 58 where you turn off. I recommend you use Google's 360 Map view to get an idea. Once you make this turn, you will see the Department store, San A.

Once you take either route, you will probably end up using it every time you go to Okuma or to Expo Park. You won't regret it. Plus you will see some other areas of interest that you may want to stop by. THIS IS A GREAT SCENIC ROUTE! IT'S PRETTY SMOOTH SAILING.

CAUTION. If you take the Route 18/Haneji Dam Nago bypass, be aware of some damage done to the road caused by Typhoon Muifa (August 2011). There were areas that the road was starting to buckle. There were signs that marked the damage. If you go on this route, there may be some construction going on to fix this. Also, there is a bend in the curve where the Okinawans park. This is on the east side of Haneji Dam Bridge. There is a pipe that pours out natural spring water. Some Okinawans stop here to collect water. Just use caution with the driving speed.

Places nearby of interest: Nago Castle Ruins, The Nago Green Bridge and Lower Park, the Haneji Dam Family Picnic Area.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Nago's Makiya Dam"

Nago's Makiya Dam

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Nago's Makiya Dam

     N 26 37.483E 128 02.134

Nago's Makiya Dam

Perhaps one of the least well known dams of Okinawa, Makiya Dam in Nago provides great opportunities for photography and a place to spend time with the family. Not as big as its sister dam just a few miles south (Haneji Dam), Makiya Dam is still an impressive site to see. You can see the dam from Highway 58 but if you are not looking to the east, you will miss it.

I parked my vehicle at the bottom of the dam and walked up to the top. There is a stairwell that leads to the top. I don't recommend you do that though. Park your car at the bottom, take some pictures of the water outlet below, and then, if you want to go to the top, take your car and find one of the side entrances that will take you up there. You will be able to cover more ground that way, plus it won't be a long way walking back (Personally, I don't like to be to far away from my car in a secluded area).

When you get up top, you will see open fields, the water on the other side, a large set of stairs (that I decided not to go on). You will know why, when you get there. But perhaps the most impressive part is the view as you look to the west and see parts of northern Nago. See photo album above.

At the bottom of the dam you may see some wildlife. There were two Common Moorhens walking around (see photo album) and we even managed to see a very, very large turtle that plunged in the water before we could snap a picture. Still trying to find out what kind of turtle it was.

Getting there. There were no clear landmarks that you can use to guide you off from Highway 58. Look at the map to get an idea of where to turn. There are multiple ways to get there. It's shouldn't be to difficult to navigate. I did mark a Family Mart on Hwy 58 to let you know that you are close to one of the turn offs. I also posted a landmark for the parking area of the dam. It is a cabana type of structure.

What to bring. Camera, lunch box, umbrella, water.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Mysterious 'Meinu' Utaki - Awase's Birthplace?"

'Meinu' Utaki in Awase, Okinawa

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Meinu Utaki in Awase, Okinawa

     N 26 19.139E 127 50.147

The Mysterious 'Meinu' Utaki

This sacred place, or 'utaki' is found in Awase, Okinawa. It is called the 'Meinu Utaki'. According to the translation from the stone inscription right next to it and from the town office brochure. People at one time immigrated from the Shuri province to the island of Awase in the 18th Century. They would pray at this utaki for good fortune and luck as they embarked on their new life here at Awase. The stone inscription (see album) starts with the heading 'Mae no Utaki'. 'Mae' usually means in front of. It also has the meaning of 'before'. Putting the pieces together as best as possible, I think what the stone is saying, that "This is a Sacred Place from Long Before". Translation is often tricky and difficult. Even the local Japanese and Okinawans may have difficult translating the Kanji, since even a Kanji may have several meanings.

Why I use the word 'mysterious' is that according to the translator, the inscription says that the people immigrated to "The Island of Awase". Parts of modern day Awase might have been at one time an independent island. I didn't know that. Since then, it perhaps was built up over time and connected to the mainland. Doing a Google search I was not able to find another source to accurately confirm this. This adds to another long list of mysteries of Okinawa history. According to the translator, the sacred place marks the center of the old Awase Island, hence why it could be considered the birthplace of modern day Awase.

(Update, August 25, 2011: Here is literal translation of the inscription.

Awase was once known as the "Ase Island," "Awasu Kubanari," which was a desert island.  However, during the King Sho Boku (1768) era, people from Shuri, Naha started to move here and became a village. The origin of this stone is when the island people thought about building a shrine to worship and pray for the prosperity of the village.This coral-lite based structure has been withstanding over 200 years of wind and rain and is known to be the oldest place of worship. The shed was added later in 1997 to protect this stone from wind and rain.

August 31, 2001
Awase Restruction Committee)

Directions. If you follow the blue route that takes you to the Awase Shrine and continue on, you will eventually find some side streets that would lead to the location. You may have to count the streets to figure out which lane to turn on.

Parking. You should be able to park off on the side somewhere nearby.

What to bring. Definitely a camera. There are other areas nearby that have yet to post due to translation confirmation.

Other places nearby of interest. The Awase Shrine, The Awase War Memorial, The God of Fire Utaki, Kanomou Well, Ubugaa.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Ogimi Village, and a Waterfall of Longevity?"

Ogimi Waterfall

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Ogimi Village and a Waterfall of 'Longevity'?

     N 26 41.402E 128 06.476

Ogimi Village, and a Waterfall of Longevity?

The waterfall you see in the above picture is the Ogimi Waterfall. It resides along Highway 58 several miles south of the 'Okuma' recreational resort. If you are not looking, you may fly right past it. Perhaps not as impressive as the Hiji Waterfall several miles north, but it offers good picture moments for you and the family.

Ogimi Village is perhaps more well known for its populace holding the highest longevity record in all of Japan. There is a stone next to the waterfall with a poetic inscription on it translated as best as possible:

"The Elders of Ogimi seek nourishment from the blessings of nature. We live to the fullest by following the traditional culture of how we gather our food.

At age 80, we are "sarabarabi" a child,
When you reach 90 and if 'They' came to take you up... Send 'Them' away by saying 'Wait till we're 100!'

As we age, we grow in high spirits. When we age, let's not depend on our children.
If you wish to talk about aging, visit our village. We shall talk about the blessings of the nature and secrets of our longevity.

We, the Elders of Ogimi Village, declare with pride that we rank number one in longevity of all of Japan."

Could the source of longevity be from the Ogimi Waterfall? Who knows? But it's worth the 10 minute stop. There is a large sign of an Okinawa jungle boy (See picture album) that serves as a good landmark. But there is also a food market adjacent to the waterfall if you wanted to get some 'nourishment' (hint, hint).  There is plenty of parking. Definitely have a camera. Note: There is a man-made walkway to allow you to get closer to the waterfall safely for picture moments.

Other places of interest nearby: Scenic View from the Shioya Hilltop, Ogimi War Memorial.

Other waterfalls of Okinawa (沖 縄 滝). Azaka Falls, Fukugawa Falls, Hira Falls, Meoto Falls, Taa Waterfall, Todoroki Waterfall, Nameless Waterfall (Fukugawa II), Kijoka Falls, Nameless Waterfall (Kunigami).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Yomitan War Memorial - Tokeshi District"

Yomitan War Memorial - Tokeshi District

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

War Memorial Shrine in Yomitan

     N 26 25.256E 127 43.635

Yomitan War Memorial - Tokeshi District

This War Memorial in Yomitan may go unnoticed if you never veer off the main highway (Route 6). We found this shrine by literally getting lost in Yomitan. This particular war memorial resides at the Tokeshi District of Yomitan Village. It sits underneath a large tree (See picture album above). Next to the shrine are the list of names from Yomitan Village who lost their lives during the "Greater East Asia War". This term was used by the Japanese to describe World War II.

There are two war memorials in Yomitan. This one at the Tokeshi District is older. It was built in 1913. At  this moment, I do not have the location of the other war memorial.

Parking: You will have to find a place off the road. Park at your own risk.
How to get there: Please look at the map to do a route reconnaissance. Although you can use Hwy 6 to get close to it, you do have to navigate your way through some unmarked roads. It's not too difficult. I provided some landmarks near the shrine.

Other places of interest nearby: Statue of Shinran Shonin.

"Statue of Shinran Shonin in Onna Village"

Statue of Shiran Shonin

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Statue of Shinran Shonin (Okinawa)

     N 26 26.007E 127 45.570

Update, August 27, 2012: The post originally stated that this statue was in Yomitan Village. That is incorrect. The statue is in Onna Village a few kilometers north of the Yomitan Border. 

Statue of Shinran Shonin in Onna Village

This giant statue is of Shinran Shonin, a Buddhist priest living in Japan during the 12th and 13th century. He is the founder of Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism. Statues like this one are common at Jōdo Shinshū temples. But there is an interesting side story to this statue. Ten years after World War II, a similar statue was given by the Japanese as a gift to the United States as a message of hope and world peace. What is notable about that statue is that it was one of  few structures at Hiroshima that remained intact after the atomic bomb was dropped. That statue currently resides in New York City.

Shinran Shonin embodied ideals of peace and benevolence towards one another, and as such, he inspired many to follow his ways. One such man was Yehan Numata, who was the one that donated this statue that rest in Yomitan Village. Mr. Numata is the founder of Mitutoyo Corporation.

The statue stands next to a Buddhist temple bell (See picture album above). Getting there isn't hard at all. It is right off Hwy 6 in Yomitan. The entire site stands next to the ocean.

Parking: There is a small parking spot next to the statue. See green thumbtack.

What to bring: Camera, umbrella, bento box (optional).

Articles of Interest: "A Part of Hiroshima in New York", Wikipedia Entry

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Kin's Castle Rock"

Kin's Castle Rock

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map
Kin's Castle Rock

     N 26 27.309E 127 55.407

Kin's Castle Rock 

At one time, Kin Town had a small castle. The last remnants of this castle is a stone that sits underneath a large tree in Kin Town (See picture album above). Next to the stone is a smaller stone with the Kanji meaning, "Stone belonging to the Castle of Kin". Okinawa has many large castle ruins island-wide, but little is publicly documented on the castle in Kin or its exact location. Next to the "Kin's Castle Rock" is a large rusted, metal gear intentionally planted in stone. There is no description or inscription next to it describing its purpose. (Update: August 15, 2011 - This was a metal press used by farmers decades ago to derive juice from sugar canes. A cow or horse would be tied to a cog wheel and turn to press against another press squeezing the juice out of the sugar canes.)

Perhaps like in many historical relics in Okinawa, The "Castle Rock from Kin Town" is yet another mysterious objects forgotten in time.

Other areas of interest nearby: Kin Watch Tower, Statue of Oshiro Kozo, Okawa Natural Spring, Kin Kannonji/Temple, Richamocha Cafe, The Gold Hall, Kinjo's Used Goods, Kin Town's Hidden Nature Trail,  Statue of Toyoma KyuzoBirth Place of Toyoma KyuzoKin Town's History Chronicles, Kin Town's Cherry Blossom Way.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Kin Watch Tower - Panoramic View"

Panoramic View from the Kin Watch Tower

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Kin Watch Tower - Panoramic View

     N 26 27.290E 127 55.366

Kin Watch Tower - Panoramic View

If you are into vistas or panoramic views and happen to be in Kin Town (near Camp Hansen), then this might be a spot you like for a short rest and view area. There are several small attractions here in Kin, like the Kin Kannonji Temple/Cave and the Okawa Natural Spring. Afterwards, you may want to visit this tower and just rest and take in the view. Have a short "bento box" or picnic while you're there. The 25 foot tower is not of significant historical importance, but I thought the Okinawan explorer should know about it as they venture to see other things around Kin Town. It's not really visible even when you drive right past it. But the view from the top might be worth the 5 minute stop. Just take it all in and feel the nice breeze. The view is somewhat obstructed by telephone wires that cut across it, but you still get a pretty view of the area. Click on the picture album to get an idea.

There is a small picnic table underneath the tower. The tower is also on a small open field if your kids and family want to play catch or ball. The bathroom facility may or may be locked. On the other side of the field, lies the Statue of Oshiro Kozo, the father of "Okinawan Emigration to the Philippines".  Parking is limited. Please see the greenthumb tack in the map.

What to bring. Umbrella, water, camera, recreational toys like a football or baseball gloves/ball, lunch box.

Other places of nearby interest. Statue of Oshiro Kozo, Okawa Natural Spring, Kin Kannonji Temple, Kin's Castle Rock, Richamocha Cafe, The Gold Hall, Kinjo's Used Goods, Kin Town's Hidden Nature Trail, Statue of Toyoma KyuzoBirth Place of Toyoma KyuzoKin Town's History Chronicles, Kin Town's Cherry Blossom Way.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Green Park at Toguchi Village"

A View of Midori Park or "Green Park" - Toguchi Village

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

"Green Park" in Toguchi Village

     N 26 18.268E 127 48.524

Green Park at Toguchi Village

This is "Midori Kohen" or 'Green Park" in Japanese. It resides in Toguchi Village near Kitanakagusuku. It is quite tucked away from the main highway (Highway 329) that skirts it. Because it is tucked away, it is fairly quiet. Unlike "Comprehensive Park" you will find that Green Park is much smaller but little more serene and tranquil with a quiet breeze every now and then brushing your face. 

Green Park is built on a hilly incline. There are different tiers at this park. At the bottom near the entrance, you will see a Gate Ball Field and a small baseball field not too far away from there. There are a few benches at different areas with plenty of open fields to lay down. The park seems mostly well groomed. (Please See the Picture Album Above). There is even a kid's spider web monkey-bar type of playset. At the very top is a Giant Compass on the pavement. Sometimes you may see cutaway shrubs and tree branches covering the compass waiting to be picked up and disposed of. You will oversee parts of Awase as you look from the top of Green Park.

There is an "off-the-beaten-path" at Green Park. Just be forewarned It is not flat terrain. I would wear shoes instead of sandals. It is easy to trip (especially on the man-made stairs). Do not let kids go on this path unaccompanied by an adult. There were a lot of low lying Banana Spider webs, so please be extra careful. Along the path you will see a small make-shift "Utaki" (sacred place).

Green Park is great if you want a small quiet get-a-way with the family or if you just need some quite time to yourself. Because it is on an incline, it may be a little workout if you are pushing a baby stroller. It's a great place to play catch or throw a football. Not far from Green Park is a park I call the "Park of Mysteries". Please see the map above. Near the entrance of Green Park lies the "Toguchi War Memorial Shrine".

Parking. Look at the Green thumbtack in the map. Parking is tight.

What to bring. Umbrella for shading, rain, and removing spider webs. Definitely bring water (They do have one water fountain near the top) and a camera. Bring a lunch box if you think you will be there for a while. It's good for a quiet picnic. There is a bathroom facility near the small baseball field. Wear good shoes.

Other places of interest nearbyToguchi War Memorial Shrine, "Park of Mysteries"

"The Toguchi Village War Memorial"

The Toguchi War Memorial - Toguchi Village (Near Kitanakagusuku)

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

The Toguchi Shrine

     N 26 18.268E 127 48.524

The Toguchi Village War Memorial

This is a small war memorial in the village of Toguchi near Kitanakagusuku and Awase.
It is collocated near the main entrance of "Midori Park" or "Green Park". The Kanji on the big head stone means, "War Memorial".

At the foot of the shrine, you see two marble rectangular objects on opposite ends. Each have the names of the war deceased inscribed in them. It is believed that the names are of people that once lived in the Village of Toguchi. (The War Memorial does not explicitly specify that the people were actually from the Village of Toguchi).

Other places of interest: The Toguchi War Memorial is right next to "Midori Park" or "Green Park". After visiting the shrine, you may be interested walking around "Green Park". You may get a small workout since it is built on an incline. If you look on the map you will also see "The Park of Mysteries" not to far away. See the map.

Parking. Look at the Green thumbtack in the map. Parking is tight. I would stick to the main route (highlighted in blue on the map) at first. The village across from the shrine has some very narrow roads if you try to go through by car.

What to bring. Umbrella for shading, rain, and removing spider webs. Definitely bring water and a camera. Bring a lunch box if you think you will be there for a while. It's good for a quiet picnic.

"The Park of Mysteries - Toguchi Village"

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

The Park with Many Mysteries

     N 26 18.222E 127 48.495

The Park of Mysteries - Toguchi Village

I call this 'The Park of Mysteries'. It is tucked away in Toguchi Village, just south of Awase. It is pretty hidden and not something you will see advertised on the main highways. It is in the northwest corner of the 81/329 Intersection. I call it 'The Park of Mysteries' cause there were a few structures of curiosity that had no explicit explanation or inscription next to them (PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE ALBUM). The park is well kept which means someone must take care of it. I suspect that local volunteers in the village help with the maintenance.

Mystery #1. There is this well structure with no inscription on it explaining its purpose. The well is only about a foot deep filled just with rocks and overgrown vegetation. I am not sure if this was a source of water at one time. (It is important to note that this structure may have no importance whatsoever. Someone could have just designed and made it that way). It looks relatively modern.

Mystery #2. There is a pond with a what used to be a large tree hanging over it. The pond is now just stagnant water. But it flows to a nearby ditch. I am not sure if this was a spring at one time. The tree has been cut up for some time, and the only part that remains is a big chuck of its trunk. It looked like the tree was really big at one time and had some importance at one time.

Mystery #3. There is a stone that erected next to a tree. It doesn't look like an ordinary stone. It almost looks like it was put there on purpose. No inscription was next to it. Part of the stone was broken. Again, it could be a coincidence that that stone happen to be there and shaped the way it was, but I don't think so.

Mystery #4. Behind the park is a trail that skirts around to an 'Utaki' (Hogan, the Okinawan native language, for sacred place). There is an inscription with a heading that says 'Kumishi' in Katakana (Katakana is Japanese alphabet for non-Japanese words). Asking around, it is not certain what this means. It could be a Hogan word. Hogan dialects vary on the island as well. So an Okinawan from one part of the island may not know a Hogan word from another part of the island. Below the heading it says, "Birthplace at Atta Village". I believe that the utaki was created at Atta Village which is in Onna Village (opposite side of the island) and that it was later moved to Toguchi Village.

My goal is to go back and find an elder from Toguchi Village that may know about these curious structures.
I will come back and update this post on my findings.

Other places of interest: You will see a set of steps from bottom of this park. If you take it up and veer right, you will run into 'Midori Park' or 'Green Park' about 100 meters away. You will also see another War Memorial (Toguchi War Memorial) at the entrance of Green Park. I will blog about this real soon.

Caution: Just be aware of low lying branches. You may see some of those big Banana Spider webs, particularly if you going on the trail to the mysterious utaki in the back. I wouldn't wear sandals. Wear some good shoes, especially if you decide to go to the 'Green Park' afterwards. 'Green Park' has some interesting side trails, but they are rugged. If you do go to 'Green Park', definitely watch out for the Banana Spiders. 'Green Park' is also built on a slight incline, so it is a little workout going through it.

Parking. Look at the Green thumbtack in the map. Parking is tight. Keep in mind that the village next to the Mysterious Park has some very narrow roads if you try to go through by car (You shouldn't have to though). Toguchi Village is an Old Okinawan style of neighborhood. To access the Mysterious Park, you could do what I did and park somewhere near Highway 329 or 81 and walk to it.

What to bring. Umbrella for shading, rain, and removing spider webs. Definitely bring water and a camera. Bring a lunch box if you think you will be there for a while. It's good for a quiet picnic.

The Mystery Park of Toguchi is a small park, but it is quiet and serene. It's good to relax and just take a small part of Okinawan culture.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Godzilla in Okinawa?"

The iconic Godzilla at the sign maker shop, Objet

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Godzilla in Okinawa?

     N 26 18.539E 127 48.897

Godzilla in Okinawa?!!!

Well...sort of. This is not an attraction, but I did want to write about it for two reasons: 1) I am sure many of you, as you are driving south on Highway 329, are curious to know what this building is and what they do and 2) if you are thinking of running a business here on island or know someone that wants to then it is a good place to know just in case.

Now, for those of you who have kids, I am sure you've heard them say (out loud), "Hey! There's the Godzilla!". Perhaps, many times. Or maybe you, yourself, told them a few times, "Hey Look!" There's the Godzilla. We're almost home".

This is a sign shop called 'Objet'. They make specialized iconic statues and figures for clients (often stores). They even do personalized house placards for the home. Click on the picture album above. You will see some other figures they were working on or have worked on. They did some of the animal statues at the Sunabe park and at the Koza Zoo.

Again, this is not an attraction, but something to fill the void of curiosity about this wonderful island.

Note: No one speaks English. I had to get help from a friend. I would only go in there if you have serious intentions of getting something done by them. They are pretty busy. But... if you do want something done, you will need someone who speaks fluent Japanese to accompany you.

Location. Right off Highway 329, just south of the Comprehensive Park Main Entrance. The Godzilla is on your left if you are going south. You can't miss it! See some of the landmarks on the map to help navigate your way there. General location would be between Awase and Kitanakagusuku.

Parking. I wouldn't park off Highway 329. It's best to find some parking spots behind the Godzilla building itself or around it. 

What to bring. Definitely a camera.

Contact info: Tel 098 932 1946, Website

"Yonkudou - Awase's Toy Model & Remote Control Car Store"

Yonkudou Toy Model Store in Awase

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

YonKudo (Awase Hobby/Model Store)

     N 26 19.276E 127 49.711

Yonkudou Hobby Store in Awase

Not an attraction, but a toy model store for those who are model enthusiast. These models are for teenagers and above due to the complexity of the models. The building is a bright yellow. You can't miss it, which is probably why I am writing about it. I was just curious on what they were selling here. I can't vouch for the price comparison with other stores. There is a Toys R Us not far from here, but this store may carry certain models that other stores may not. They also have some remote control cars and planes as well. 

Japan has some really cool toys and this place might be a place to get some unique models and a place to get a cool gift for a model enthusiast back in the U.S. or elsewhere. See the picture album above to see the kind of models they have. They have model war tanks, battle ships, Gundam robots, etc.

The store is next to a grocery market and there is parking space available.

The worker did not speak any English. 

Phone number: 098 934 1264,

Other hobby stores in Okinawa. Modelers Core (Okinawa City), R/C Paradise (Kadena).

Monday, August 1, 2011

"The Awase War Memorial"

Awase War Memorial

View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map

Awase War Memorial

     N 26 18.799E 127 49.776

The Awase War Memorial

This war memorial is dedicated to the 900 people from Awase who died as a result of World War II. There is a big stone that lies in front with kanji written on it. It says "The Tower of Awase". Behind this big stone lies a tall wall with the 900 names of the deceased etched in stone.

Size. The size of the entire memorial is not big. It's about 20 feet wide and 100 feet long. It is partly fenced off to let people know that it is not a place to make a short cut through, but it's not locked. You can easily walk in. There are signs that say "please keep it the area clean" in kanji. But it does not say keep out. You should be able to go in and take pictures. Again, just use common sense and consider it as a place of reverence.

How to find this place. It is better to use the map above to guide you in. It is near the Awase Bay and across from Hiyagon Swamp. Also, it is across from another San-A store (see pink thumbtack above). The memorial is next to the nearby main road but you would never know the place even existed because the back of the memorial is covered by trees. I even walked passed it and didn't notice it. There is a statue of two kids near this memorial (behind it). I don't know what it means yet, but will find out.

Parking. There is ample parking near the Awase Bay. See green thumbtack above.

What to bring. Camera, water, umbrella, mosquito repellant.

Other nearby places of interest: Awase Shrine, Bird Observation Point (Hiyagon Swamp, Awase), "Takahara Ditch", God of Fire Utaki, Kanomou Well, Ubugaa.