Sunday, January 21, 2007

Painting the world pink

This weekend I journeyed up to the northern part of the island to see the "Sakura Matsuri" or "Cherry Blossom Festival" in Motobu. I was warned in advance that the actual trees haven't come to full bloom on Mt. Yaedake, but thankfully there were enough blooms and a break in the rainy weather to enjoy the famous tress that line the road to the top of the mountain. There is a windy road that travels up the mountain and hundreds of tourists park their cars and wander around the road with their cell phone cameras, as well as extremely professional gear to capture the best shots of the trees. The road is very narrow with low-hanging limbs and the addition of small children running away from their parents, random dogs, and larger-than-normal cars making the journey a bit chaotic, yet very Japanese.

Thankfully, the Motobu folks thought ahead and realized that people are coming to see trees in bloom and made a room full of pictures from last year. So, although, it's kind of lame, here are some stolen shots from people with excellent cameras.

The best parts of the festival were the stands of oishii fair food, carnival games, and a performance tent. The Okinawan "carnies" are much more approachable than those of the States and suckered us into playing numerous games. I managed to conquer the dart-throwing stand, and the group left with our arms full of novelty pencils, swords, guns, Hello Kitty paraphenalia, and full stomachs thanks to corn dogs ("American dogs"), fresh strawberry mochi, and cherry blossom ice cream.

And what goes better with the serene cherry blossoms of Mt. Yaedake than some rocking music with a local band, Afromania. (They were actually quite decent... I *think* that's their name). We were also treated to some high school break-dancers spinning on their heads for well over thirty minutes.

The festival brought out the kids in all of us. Here are my travel companians for the weekend, Dave, Juhi, and Paul, who carted me around and let me hog the Ninetendo Wii for awhile to try to bring out my inner Roger Federer in a friendly little tennis match.

Of course, nothing compares with actual children enjoying a festival.

The Block One Crew of the north are great people to hang out with and next weekend is the Cherry Blossom Festival of Nago. The trees should be blooming more by that time, and the pull of fried fair food and eisa drumming might be too much for me to resist. Plus, Juhi's "I-can-sleep-til-noon-and-I-will" futon and yummy waffles for breakfast are out of this world!

As Paul, Juhi, and I are not going to be in Okinawa next year, there is a sense of "we have to do this! and that!" before July. Just like the cherry blossoms, our time on the island is limited.


Laura said...

Have you noticed when you're out of the country Chicago wins sporting championships?


Rachel said...

I almost deleted your comment but then just told Ken to avoid my comments b/c he is watching the games tomorrow. :) Then he said, "So obviously, the Bears won." But I played it off cool, not telling which game, and pointing out that I have friends throughout the States. I can't delete my friend!

Carly said...

Um. Should I not say the result of the other game? GO OTHER TEAM!

Now I'm hungry for Carnie food.

Laura said...

You eat Carnies? That's gross.

Rachel said...

Ha! :)

So I am guessing a Puckett/Knepper SuperBowl party isn't in the works?

Juhi said...

RACH!!!!! your blog was brilliant! especially the ending about how our time is limited...
i gave in my re-con papers yesterday. the whole day i felt as if a part of me died. can u blame me when my town is so pretty?
oh well, like the sakura, we have to appreciate the ephemeral beauty of it all while it lasts..

Joyce said...

so, have i mentioned to you that for some reason, i just cant get your email address right from memory at the school? thats why im always writing you personal messages here. you can, indeed, delete mine when you are done reading it. cherries this weekend: i am not going bc im running the marathon on saturday. and jon w is coming into town. we are going out to hinatoma hall saturday night, wanna come? possibility that some folks are going to see cherries sunday.

Kimi said...

Do they have okinawa-dango there? (I think that's what it was called)I remember eating that at the Obon Festival growing up... it was like a huge fried donut hole. Some of them were plain, some had azuki beans... either way, it was yummy. :)

Rachel said...

Yes, and I have been known to indulge! They're great to grab at a market. Yum!