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Okinawa Day 1

It was Christmas Day and I was up by six a.m. per usual.
The reason I was up, however, was a little bit different. Instead of waking up with my brother in order to rush down the stairs and open our stockings while we impatiently waited for our parents to arise, I was blearily making sure I had everything for a three-day trip to Okinawa. The four of us: my host mother, sister, grandmother and I left our apartment at seven a.m. sharp and caught a train at 7:07. That train took us to another train, which took us to another train, which eventually got us to Haneda International airport with an hour to spare.

Traveling...airports and flights are airports and flights. For once I slept on the plane, and I never do that. So it was before I knew it we had arrived in Okinawa, which was warmer than Tokyo, albeit threatening to rain. More travel logistics ensued, mainly consisting of finding our rental car. We started driving and I fell alseep again...

...and woke up when we arrived at a castle.

We toured Shurijo Castle, which was the seat of Okinawa's King from 1429-1879, when the King abdicated his throne to the Meiji Government. The castle itself was built sometime during the 14th century and burnt down several times; most recently in 1945 when it was razed during the Battle of Okinawa. So the structure there today is a restoration.

What can I say, it was a castle: very big and intimidating, with a great view of the town below. Kings always did get the best views. We toured the King's throne room (last picture) as well as the buildings where the day-to-day affairs of state took place.

After the tour, we watched a demonstration of traditional Okinawaian (if that's how you say it) dances.
(Those are women.)
The dances were all composed of slow, precise, often subtle movements. It was windy on top of the hill, so it was a little chilly, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed them more if I wasn't shivering a little.

The interesting part came afterwards, after I'd had my picture taken. A man approached me and asked, in perfect English, if he could interview me and use that interview as an advertisement to attract tourists to Okinawa.

He explained briefly that he'd been a member of the air force and then proceeded to ask me a few questions and what not. He ended with "and could you say a few words encouraging people to come to Okinawa". What could I say? I'd been there for three hours, and most of that time was spent sleeping in a car. I said something, and at any rate he said the video would go up on youtube in a few days. So if it shows up...I'll link you guys to it.

And that pretty much concludes Okinawa day one. We went to our hotel and checked in, ate dinner, took a shower...went to bed. Here's the view from our balcony:

It's my first non-cold and/or snowingn Christmas. It feels a little bit odd.


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