Daisekirinzan…or snakes and rails!

Hello everyone,

This is round two since my first blog just disappeared. So this week I have been adjusting to my new job as a Family Advocacy Program clinician. It is  very different work from what I have been doing at Community Counseling Program, but it’s interesting work and I am never bored! I do however need time to focus on my own health and wellness and in that spirit I decided it was time to take a trip north again, the northernmost tip of the island as a matter of fact.

So two weeks ago I attempted to get to Daisekirinzan, but in Okinawa, they have a tendency to close things down, such as waterfalls or quasi-national parks such as this one. I decided late Thursday night that a nice relaxing day was in order on Saturday. Time to get out into a forest and just be. I left the house at 6:08 and jumped on the expressway to Nago.

I stopped outside Ogimi Village at a rest stop and happened upon this little butterfly sunning him or herself on the coral above the East China Sea.

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The morning sun caught on the wings of a butterfly overlooking the East China Sea near Ogimi Village.

So being that I was one of the first ones up at Daisekirinzan, there were only four of us to take the bus to the top of the hill. Since there are walking trails all around, I thought I could just walk it. Nope, I had to take the bus. So here is a little taste of that bus ride.

So there are four different courses to take with  views of the ocean and sea, many many banyan trees and rocks, of course rocks, that’s the reason I came here.

I was out there at about 8:30 in the morning and the light was filtering through the trees, there was only the sounds of ravens and insects and no people.  According to the brochure: this is northernmost tropical karst topography formed by the limestone layer elevation 200 million years ago. Between the banyan trees and the rocks, I felt like I had taken a step into an enchanted forest.

This is a quasi-national park, I have no idea what that means, but there it is. Along the trail there was the ‘matchmaking rock’ sort of the ancient world’s version of Match.com. Also the ‘wedded rocks’ that stand close and lean into each other, very romantic. There was also the reincarnation rock where you go through it three times and bring another soul into the world.

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Strange and big rocks of Daisekirinzan.

Throughout the trails were these informational tablets that showed pictures of the rocks and then drawings of what the rocks could look like if you used your imagination. It lent to the feeling of being somewhere in a  fairy tale.

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Me and my pet rock…the rocks all look like little animals …this one looks like a turtle or a snake!
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This is Goku-Iwa, the Monkey King, named after the famous rock of “Journey to the West”, the monkey king Son Goku’s birth place.

I did end up running into some people and took photos of them together, and they offered to take my pictures. I ran into a couple he is from Osaka and she from Chatan-Cho, right down the street from me!

In the first blog I forgot to put in the banyan trees, so I’ll add a photo. These things were incredible. I saw Japan’s biggest Chinese Banyan Tree, but missed seeing Kijimuna the elf that  sometimes frequents the woods!

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Banyan trees

So as I as leaving I looked down and noticed a rather large snail and I had almost stepped on it. It occurred to me that I needed to be more careful with foot placement. So as I was nearing the end of the trail, I looked down and noticed a small tail as I was just about to step down. I leaned down because I thought it might be a Ryukyu tree lizard. It was not, it was a snake. I saw the body and realized it was about an inch across near the tail. I backed up very slowly  as it headed off in another direction. After my initial surprise I wanted to get a photo, because hey it’s an awesome thing to see a snake in the woods. But then I thought that perhaps I should let it go since poking a habu may not be a good idea.

I decided to head down the East Coast of the island, the Pacific Ocean side, which continues to seem wrong to me. I had come down this way once and it was a great ride. There are these road signs all along the way about the Okinawan Rail or the Yanbaru Kuina. It is a very shy and rare flightless bird that keeps getting run over by all the cars along the way. Now the speed limit is 40 kph, which is roughly 24 miles per hour. I can tell you, if these Rails are not fast they will be run over, because I was the only person doing 40 kph on that road. So I had hopes that perhaps I would see one, but I really never thought it would happen.

I came around a corner and there by the side of the road was the shyest Okinawan of them all. It was standing right there, next to the road and I drove right past. I said out loud, ‘holy cow, that’s a rail!’ I was looking desperately for a turn around spot because I had to go back. There were no turn around spots so I ended up doing a three point turn in the middle of the road. Now seeing it wasn’t enough, I wanted a picture! I drove slowly and there it was, half hidden in the undergrowth. I shot a few pictures through the windshield and then the Okinawan spirits smiled on me and the bird started walking toward my car. I had the window down and immediately began shooting. The noise startled the bird a little bit but it stayed there for the photo shoot and I ended up with two pictures I was happy with. What a day! I have to say, I never expected anything like that. I am still excited just writing about it. I drove down the hill away and kept saying ‘thank you! thank you! thank you!’ to whoever was listening in the universe!

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The Yanbaru Kuina looking fine by the side of the road.

I think yesterday was as fine a day as you could ask for.

I drove through a little town that had decorated for Children’s Day on May 5. It’s actually boys day since the girls had their day back in March, but it seems that the boys are being gracious and sharing it. All over the island there are these beautiful fish streamers and as I headed down the hill I saw this…

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Celebrating children’s day

I kept driving and found a beach that was just quiet and shy and lovely, so typical of Okinawa and waded in, appreciating the moment. There were pieces of coral, sea shells (a few of them walking…hermit crabs) and sea glass strewn on the shore.

big rocks on a beach!
My own private Idaho, or beach…
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Sea glass, shells and coral on the beach floor…

I hope everyone had a great week and wish everyone here at home a happy Golden Week!