Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chalk it up as a success!

I woke up this morning bright and early (8am) with big plans for my day. I was going to attempt for the first time to catch Bus #75 that stops right outside my apartment because I finally had a destination in mind that it happens to go to. Today was the second day of the Okinawan International Festival. Apparently, there are over 40 nationalities represented in Okinawa City (Koza) which is right next door to Chatan. Today there was supposed to be a tug of war and a parade. The amazing bit is that I found out all of this information on my own online and I don't think anyone else outside of the Okinawa City bubble even knew it was happening.

So, I walked out my door and waited for the bus at 10:27. By 10:50, I had successful disembarked at the exact bus stop I needed and began my wandering. What I didn't anticipate was that they would still be setting up and that no one would really be around. No worries, though, because I can always find somewhere to shop. I wandered around (browsing Christmas decorations!) and had a long lunch at Mos Burger. By this time, it was about 2:00 in the afternoon and although there were more people wandering the famous Gate 2 street, nothing was happening. Perfect time to find a peaceful cafe and do some journaling. I managed to find a "Simple" place...both in decor and name... and spent over an hour relaxing and watching people walk by. American families, Japanese families, American military band members, anyone and everyone. All of a sudden the parade began going by me in the coffee shop so I headed out and found a seat to watch the performances at the very beginning of the route. It was short little parade, but a lot of fun to watch because everyone was so excitable.

I then caught a bus to get to a different shopping center to pick up some Japanese language books (midterms this week...three classes to teach, must study) and walked home. Every time I navigate myself around using buses, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I know that having a car would be far more convenient and give me a larger radius for exploration, but I enjoy the walking and figuring things out. Guess I'm crazy.

Here are some of the pictures I snapped at the parade:

These girls were with a Latin American group. Many Okinawans immigrated to South America especially and there is a strong Latin culture here.

Young and old alike took part in the parade. The older women were quick with a smile to a "gaijin" with a camera!

I don't know what was up with this group. They had a fun and slightly weird performance and must have been high schoolers. Every time I put up my camera they would stop and everyone would jump into the photo.

Cute little girls dressed up and performing for the crowd. The kids in this parade were positively adorable.

Here's the tug of war rope from above. Definitely not as big as the one used at the Naha Matsuri. I wasn't sticking around to get smothered by a crowd again.

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