Saturday, October 4, 2008

Amy and Rana go to Zakimi Castle

In an effort to force myself out of the house my goal of going to one new place a week continues. This past Thursday Rana and I made our way to Zakimi Castle. It's further away than the gardens, but we made it there and back with no problem. We had driven past it before when going to Rana's foster family so it wasn't completely new, but still the furthest I've driven on my own since being here.

So, to say that Zakimi is a castle is perhaps a slight exaggeration. It is more accurately the site of castle ruins. It's still pretty cool though. The site is surrounded by pine trees and currently those trees are full of cicadas just screaming their little bug hearts out. I didn't see a single one, but man were they loud. Chris and I have heard them on our evening walks with Rana, but the ones here were almost deafening. I've read that these are the cicadas that only come out every 17 years so they're trying to mate for all their worth.

The castle wasn't very crowded but there were some Japanese kids there on a school trip. I'd say about 75% of the kids were afraid of Rana while the others wanted to pet her. She is all about getting some loving and after being corrected at the beginning was quite good about not jumping up. Most of the boys were playing baseball - it's huge here- while most of the girls were playing a king of jumping/rhythm game. Two girls would stand about 8 feet apart facing each other with a stretchy rope around the outsides of their ankles while the other girls would jump in and out of the rectangle that was formed. It reminded me of a game we played in elementary school P.E. that our teacher told us was from Hawaii. I was surprised at how few of the children spoke English. I really did think that the younger kids would be learning English in school, but I guess not. I am getting pretty good at charades though!

Zakimi was a castle built in the early 15th century. There were lots of castles built in Japan between the 12th and 15th centuries so this time was known as the Gusuku (castle) Era. The remains are still pretty intact and you can see that it would have made a pretty effective stronghold because the walls were at least 8-10 feet thick. The area surrounding it is a really nicely landscaped park and gives you beautiful views of the East China Sea.

Our favorite part of the outing took place on our walk back to the parking lot. We found a little ice cream cafe that had a window to order from which meant I could get a treat without leaving the dog outside. I got a scoop of mango ice cream and it was delicious - it tasted a little more peachy/apricoty, but it was smooth and cold on a hot day. Rana talked me in to sharing and she agrees that is was quite tasty.

I still need to come up with next week's adventure, but there are plenty of options for me here in Okinawa.

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