Nakajin Revisited…

Hello Everybody!

So it was a short work week, but for some reason, it felt like a long one.  Maybe it was settling back into the routine after three days off.  I decided yesterday that since I had not given my full attention to Nakijin last year, it was time for a return trip.

I was thinking about the differences that have taken place between last year’s trip and this years. Last year there were people in my life who are no longer here, I had been in Okinawa for less than six months and things were just different. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I love that life is always changing and causing you to adapt with it.  I am a firm believer in Heraclitus’ observation that you never step into the same stream twice and headed out the door and up to Nago.

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Shijimajokaku Ward – say that three times fast…or even one time slowly…I dare you! Incorrectly identified in my little video below. It is not the Ushimi Riding Field, this place, housed the closest subjects to the ruler of the castle.

I put a little of my ‘mood music’ on and listened to Sade, the Isley Brothers, Montel Jordan, Toni Braxton and Brian McKnight on a cool Saturday afternoon. I never know what to expect when I actually get off the Expressway and onto Route 58. Some days, the road is jammed up with everyone else trying to get to Nago or other points north. Some days, there are very few cars and you cannot spend the time staring at that gorgeous water and wondering how anything can be so beautiful. Today, there were very few cars, so it was quite speedy.

I often wonder how anyone can manage to get lost on such a small island, but I am able to do it with an alarming rate of consistency. I find the most interesting things on these little side roads I frequent. My backing up and turning around on tight Okinawan roads has improved dramatically.

I did get there and it was not as crowded as the last time I went. Here’s a little information about Nakijin: It is a World Heritage Site, one of many on the island.

This is lifted directly from the webpage http://nakijinjo.jp/english/history.html.  Check it out for yourself if you’d like.

Sanzan Period: A Chinese book from the 14th century mentions three kings of the northern Ryukyus:Haniji, Min, and Hananchi. Around this period, Okinawa Island was divided into three principalities-northern Hokuzan, central Chuzan, and southern Nanzan. The Hokuzan principality controlled most of the northern reaches of the island and traded independently with China, until conquered by King Sho Hashi of Chuzan in 1416(or possibly 1422), and the Hokuzan history came to an end.

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Through the Heirojo Gate – and up the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, where I was standing was the main gate, as you ascend there are cherry trees planted on either side.

Kanshu Period: After defeating Hokuzan, Chuzan stationed a kanshu (Administrator) to govern the north, and the gusuku became his residence in 1422. However, during the 1609 Satsuma invasion of the Ryukyus, much of the gusuku was burnt to ashes. The site remained a spiritual center for the people of Okinawa long after it was no longer used as the Administrator’s residence. Worshippers still come from throughout the islands.

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One of the fire gods of the ancient practices here at Nakijin.
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Looking down to the Heirojo Gate from the top…the cherry trees are just beginning to blossom.

Walking on these rocks and grasses, I always wonder about what happened here. If these people could ever imagine such a future that has come to pass and that we would want to know about them. I wonder what people will think of us in six hundred years. Maybe they’ll wonder why we were all obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves!

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This cat and I were avoiding the very noisy American family.
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Gusuku walls

So here’s a short video, as I say, wrong information about training horses for war. That was in another field that I managed to miss.

And so next week the festivals begin in earnest. The Sakura (cherry blossoms)  festivals will be held all over the north, in the Motobu area, which is where Nakijin is located. The Okinawan Sakura is a deeper pink than the Mainland variety  and it blooms at least a month earlier, due to our temperate climate down here.

People are in love with nature here and it’s a beautiful thing to see men and women wonder at the blossoms, and travel from all over, just to view them.

I took many pictures, but these are my favorites. I love how they shiver in the breezes and bow to passersby.

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I just needed a change of pace.

I ended my time at Nakijin with a small beni-imo soft serve ice cream that I didn’t need, but wanted. I decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants down in Onna. As I was driving down the hill, I had a mongoose run out in front of me! That’s twice now. The next time hopefully I will have my Nikon in hand!