Naha City ~ Gateway to the Ryukyu Islands

by Ralpapajan

An introduction to Naha City. Here we enjoy the Naha Festival and one of the Gardens in this friendly city. Small and clean, friendly and honest, this to me epitomises Japan.

Arrival in Naha City and first impressions

Enjoying the Naha Festival and a Walk in a Garden

There are many ways one can get to Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands.  I chose to travel from London via Helsinki and Nagoya.  The flights over on Finnair were two of the best I have experienced.  The Cabin Crew, as well as being very competent were also very beautiful and helpful.  The food was out of this world and I was thrilled to get Japanese style meals on the leg from Helsinki to Nagoya.

Nagoya Airport ~ a Plane's eye view.

 

I hadn't looked up Chubu Central on the internet and did not know that the new International Airport, opened on 17th February 2005, was situated on a man-made island in Ise Bay, Tokoname City in Aichi Prefecture, south of Nagoya.  Thus it was that, as we descended and got nearer to the sea no land appeared in my limited view from an aisle seat.  Just as it seemed to me that we were about to land in the sea we touched down smoothy on the runway.

This aerial view is from Japanese Lifestyle ~ an Australian web site. Note the causeway from the Airport to the Mainland.

 

 Toposcope at Nagoya AirportAt Nagoya I was more than impressed with the Airpprt and the Staff. The ticket to Naha on All Nippon Airlines had been bought in Japan and was printed in Japanese.  As I stood looking around vaguely a charming Japanese Lady came up to me and asked if she could assist.  She was in fact a member of the Help Staff at the Airport.  She guided me around the Airport and showed me where to go and when.  Then I went for a walk.  Unlike my experiences in Europe and America I was able to take photographs of planes landing and taking off. I was also surprised to see Volunteer Guides taking School children around the Airport and giving them lectures.  If this is what Japan is all about, I thought, then I am in for a treat.

Hostess aboard ANA Flight to Naha

 The Plane to Naha City was almost empty and the girls were fascinated with my South African shirt.  They had, they said, never, as far as they knew, had a South African aboard before.  They then insisted on taking photographs of me with each of them, not only on my camera but also on their phones.  We spent the entire flight talking about South Africa and the cities they were from ~ Chobe and Osaka.   

Already Japan began to grow on me.

The welcoming committee.

At last we arrived in Naha City and there waiting for me was my daughter who lives in Naha and my Granddaughter, Sahratia, whom I had not met.

I was jet lagged, of course, for it had been over 24 hiurs since I left home in Basingstoke, England on a dull greay late Autumn day. Here in Naha City the sky was blue and the weather warm.  I could scarcely take in all the sights, smells and sounds as we drove into Naha to my daughter's apartment.

The Buddha

 

That first day we just enjoyed being together.  We did go for a walk in the afternoon and wandered around a nearby park and up to the Temple where my daughter and her South African husband were married in a full Shinto Ceremony.  I was quite taken aback when she rinsed out little Sahratia's formula bottle at the fountain near the street and then proceded to add formula and water from the fountain before letting her drink it.  I tasted the water myself and it was amazing, sweet and pure tasting.

 

 

Some participants in the Naha Festival pose for a photograph.  The Finger Sign wishes one 'Good Luck'

Okinawa is an Island of Festivals.  Every October the Naha Festival takes place with a Parade followed by the Biggest Tug o' War in the world.  It has taken place for centuries and is symbolic of the wars that occurred between the East and West Kingdoms.
The rope is over a meter thick and is woven anew each year.  The winning team is the one that pulls the other 15 metres. 

The parade itself takes well over an hour but it was so exciting, full of colour and interest that we didn't notice exactly how long.

A Pavilion in Fukushu En, the Chinese Gardens in Naha City, Okinawa

 

 The Fukushu En ~ an authentic Chinese Garden completed in 1992 ~ was one of the highlights of a visit that was filled with highlights,  It is in the Centre of Naha City and is a place to relax and enjoy time and time again.  There is so much to see that each visit reveals more to the eye.

It is difficult to do justice to the Gardens in words.  It is a Visual and Spiritual experience and, to me, makes the trip to Okinawa worthwhile.  If you do nothing else then walk around the gardens.  

Take the Guide Gecko Tour  To whet your appetite have a look at the photos below. 

 

This is the Guide Gecko Site that details Naha City for the Traveller

Visiting Okinawa? Download your Guide for Naha here. Want expert advice come to this site and ask away. You will always get a meaningful answer.

Some photographs of the Naha City Festival Parade

You will see that male and female, young and old enjoy the Festival. It is well worth a visit.
Beautiful young girls taking part in the Naha Festival Parade
Beautiful young girls taking part in ...
Ralpapajan
Mature matrons showing off during the Naha Festival Parade
Mature matrons showing off during the...
Ralpapajan
A study in concentration during the Naha City Festival
A study in concentration during the N...
Ralpapajan
Even the very young take their part in the Naha City Festival Parade
Even the very young take their part i...
Ralpapajan
An open front shop.  Even though the Naha Festival is in full flow no-one would think of taking anything from the shop.
An open front shop. Even though the ...
Ralpapajan
A tiny Eisa Drummer.  Many Okinawan children take up Eisa drumming.
A tiny Eisa Drummer. Many Okinawan c...
Ralpapajan
The crowd was too dense to get near to the rope.
The crowd was too dense to get near t...
 
Unlike this chap I didn't have a friend to lift me high.
Unlike this chap I didn't have a frie...
Ralpapajan
After the Tug o' War pieces are cut off and are taken as souvenirs to bring good luck.
After the Tug o' War pieces are cut o...
Ralpapajan
Some of the totems exhorting extra effort during the tug o' war
Some of the totems exhorting extra ef...
Ralpapajan

A few photographs of Fukushu En.

These Chinese Gardens are one of the most photogenic places I have visited. I hope to visit them again with my new and far better camera.
We enter the Fukushu En
We enter the Fukushu En
Ralpapajan
The Pagoda
The Pagoda
Ralpapajan
The Pagoda is very high with Seven Tiers
The Pagoda is very high with Seven Tiers
Ralpapajan
Some very intricate limestone carving.  This is typical in Okinawa.
Some very intricate limestone carving. This is typical in Okinawa.
Ralpapajan
Detail of a carving.
Detail of a carving.
Ralpapajan
A Meeting spot ~ here you can hold an intimate conversation in private.
A Meeting spot ~ here you can hold an intimate conversation in private.
Ralpapajan
A turtle surrounded by Japanese Koi.  I saw Koi everywhere I went in Japan.  You can feed them here.
A turtle surrounded by Japanese Koi. I saw Koi everywhere I went in Japan. You can feed them here.
Ralpapajan
A Typical Moon Gate.  An entrance into a cool part of the gardens.
A Typical Moon Gate. An entrance into a cool part of the gardens.
Ralpapajan
Updated: 11/28/2011, Ralpapajan
 
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Well, that is it. Naha City in microcosm. I sincerely hope you enjoy the trip! Please let me know if you did.


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Guest on 02/07/2012

I'll visit Japan one day....specially KYOTO!!

Ralpapajan on 12/07/2011

TYVM ~ Koi are wild fish in Japan. They are indeed beautiful.

Marie on 12/07/2011

I love Koi fish, my parents used to have lots. Very tame and they will suck your fingers. Great page - especially for someone like me who doesn't get to travel much. With the Internet we can all be armchair travelers!

Penny on 11/27/2011

The Tug-of-War is held in October. It is on the Sunday closest to the 10th of the month. http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=11489 Follow the link to find a bit more information about the rope.
Otherwise great article.

Kraig on 11/27/2011

I enjoyed this very much and would love to visit. Nicely done, Rob. I am curious about the tug of war in general and the rope specifically. What day of the year is the event held? And, do you have a photo of the rope? Best regards.

Ralpapajan on 11/27/2011

TYVM for kind comments.

Allison on 11/27/2011

fantastic write up and photos!

Zelimir on 11/27/2011

Oh,yes...indeed. I enjoyed very much and was jealous,in the same time.
Happy for you,dear friend !

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