Monday, May 23, 2016

Okinawa the beautiful tropical side of Japan

Okinawa the Beautiful Tropical Side of Japan

Chura means beautiful, Shima means island, Yan means mountains and Umi means Ocean. If one dreams a wonderland with Charu-Shima, Charu-Yan and Charu-Umi, all together at one place, it is Okinawa, one of the most beautiful island state of Japan. Weather don't fluctuate much as it is a sub tropical side.

It consists of 160 small and large islands, 46 of these are inhabited by 1.3 m people. It has good infrastructure of roads and bridges. Located on the southern most part of Japan, it is surrounded by China Sea/ Japanese Sea (left) on one side and Nagagast Bay of Pacific Ocean (right) on other side. Taiwan is in the south, Shanghai in the east and Korea and mainland Japan are located in the north of Okinawa. It was an independent kingdom of Ryukyu dynasty before being merged with the Kingdom of Japan. The language is similar to Japanese but the dialect is different. People are mostly Buddhist but there are Sinto and few Christians (converted after WW-II).

After World War II, USA has established a military base in Kadina, Okinawa. Nearly 45,000 US establishment resides here in the text free area where no Japanese can enter. The local government wants is in oppose to their stay but the national government has permitted its continuation. Therefore, the opposition party rules the prefecture.

The forest in the mountain is dense and remains evergreen due to its species. However it is secondary because many trees were cut after the WW-II to build houses and other buildings. People  are disciplined and don't cut trees here. Selected cutting is conducted by the forestry agency as per their working plan.

Sugarcane, pineapple, orange and mango (Apple mango) are the major crops of the islands. Agriculture and Tourism are the major source of income. It has two monsoon seasons. One before summer and one after summer. Away from the factories and concrete jungle life of Tokyo and Osaka, people (retired) live a very happy life. I met one retired professor of the university whose wife and two daughters are living in Tokyo and this gentleman (69Y) is living in an island of a population of 2300. He does all his household work (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc) himself. He enjoys fishing through his small boat and eating fresh fish food everyday. One has to take an hour flight to a place and then a speed boat ride of another hour to reach his home. There are two doctors in their island to attend health problem but in emergency the prefecture provides free helicopter service to the citizens. Generally, they are fit and healthy, therefore don't demand much from the government.

How will you consider our luck today? Lakshmi and I have completed 38 years of our sweet association of marriage life yesterday and today morning Naha Airport was welcoming us with colourful and beautiful orchids flowers in purple, pink and white colours. It is the best honey moon place for the newly married couple. We started our marriage life in teenage and have come to Okinawa in the forest age! We took a straight drive from the airport to a place of my dream, the Ocean Expo Park. It was two hours journey of pleasure by a car, passing through the natural gallery of lush green trees on both sides of the road, the hills, the houses and traveling in the centre. Rainy season has started and the weather is cloudy but the atmosphere was very pleasant.  
Driver Sunagava (70Y) was driving the car and only miss was the song of Kishor Kumar. Sunagava preferred driving as profession to avoid agriculture labour. In free time he does gardening and watch TV at home. He doesn't drink because he has to drive a car everyday. At home some of our drivers, don't skip drinking before driving.

We stopped at Yanbaru kitchen for a lunch break. It was a vegetarian restaurant. Two racks full of varieties of leaves were giving an impression of entering into a nursery. With green leafy vegetables, rice, Kari, tofu, sweets, Japanese tea, etc, we have enjoyed our lunch. After a short drive of another 30 minutes we reach to the most beautiful place of the island, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. It is an Oceanarium crowded with children, parents and students.

We were watching the National Geography live in front of us. Varieties of colourful fishes and the sea world of small, medium and big creatures were swimming around us. At coral reef moat, we touched sea cucumbers and starfishes. Next to it, very large scale coral exhibit by utilising natural sunlight and offshore sea water. The cuttlefish was looking charming swimming around the corals. There were dangerous organism such as surgeon fish and geography cone shell. We saw the colourful and big size spiny lobsters. The eel was resting. The Papuan jellyfish were moving like many white parashoots flying into the water sky. The Sharks varieties bull shark, tiger shark, sandbar shark, lemon shark, etc, were commanding the cage and moving with many small and medium fishes around. There were many sharks, but the whale sharks cage was the attraction point of all. Children were liking yellow and blueback fusilier. Indian mackerel were swimming in huge groups, opening their large mouth and sweeping around the feed. And the Japanese spider crab, the largest crab in the world was in the precious present. We couldn't count the varieties and numbers, but it was the first visit of life, watching many varieties of marine life together in the Oceanarium. Okinawa is actually surrounded by very deep seas. Rare fish such as the black smoke and flame snapper, and valuable previous coral can be found here. The Oceanarium is maintained and manage very well with high standards. The task to maintain all these lives happy and healthy 24x7 is not an easy job.

The tourists were busy in taking video and photos and parents were taking their kins to the close of these wonderful life of the sea. There was Dolphins show too. Time was a constraint but we didn't miss taking fragrance of more than 2000 orchid plants, tropical and sub tropical flowers and fruits in the Tropical Dream Centre. We were in the heaven. Lakshmi's phone battery went off in taking many pictures of the flowers. There was no time left for us to visit the sea beaches, still we managed to stop near the bridge, touched the sea water, prayed, walked for a while on the Ivory sand of the beach and collected few corals and shells as memory of our visit.

We started back at 4.30 PM and reached to our hotel at 6.30 PM. After check in, and taking little rest, we took a long walk towards the down town. As the Sun sets early here, most of the shops were closed. We took our light supper in a grocery store and return to the hotel. I still have some energy to share the memories of the day, therefore writing and mailing you this message.

Any day in life, if there is a chance to come to Japan, do take a trip to Okinawa, the Chura-Shima-Yan-Umi of Japan. Don't forget to carry your Charu-Lata! LoL.

19 May 2016


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