Monday, June 29, 2015

Shields Say Konnichiwa Part II

Our adventures in Okinawa, Japan were not quite over!  Thursday started at some more castle ruins and then the rest was spent at the beach!  Annie took us to an awesome spot called Mamasan Beach.  Michael rented a canopy/tent that they had set up on the beach which made it much more possible to enjoy the beach with babies.  The water was incredible and clear!  They even had some incredible snorkeling.  I saw some real clown fish in real anemone! Laila helped her dad feed the fish.  Sand castles were built with cousins, legs were buried in the sand, kites were flown, and snacks were eaten.  It was a PERFECT beach day! MMM! Take me back!

Friday was a fun, slower day. We wanted to snorkel at Maeda point, but the water was too choppy.  They weren't allowing anyone to go.  We went to lunch at the incredibly peaceful and scenic Doka Doka Cafe.  Then we walked around Cape Manzamo and did some snorkeling at Maeda Flats.  Friday evening, we FINALLY went on the Ferris Wheel near the Castro's home that Laila spotted everytime we were near.  We also experienced Dr. Fish- YIKES!  Craziest, ticklish, creepiest sensation ever.  But you should have heard the way it made Michael giggle.  I guess Mr. Not Ticklish has a ticklish spot after all!  That night we had some incredible BBQ at Sauce.  YUMMY!

Saturday was my birthday!  I've got to say, if that day has any significance of what the rest of the year is going to be like, then 29 is going to be awesome!  Michael and Victor went golfing early in the morning and then we all packed up and head out to enjoy a hike to Tadake Falls.  Annie & Victor's friends came along too!  It was a great group!  The hike was beautiful and adventurous as we hiked up the river and scaled some rocks to get to the falls.  Really fun!  That night, we had my birthday dinner at Four Seasons for some authentic teppanyaki.  The steak was amazing!  Finally, we finished off the night with some yummy birthday cake-  Thanks to Annie & Victor!

Sunday was our last day in Okinawa.  We enjoyed church with the Castros and then we were going to go sailing but it looked like a storm was coming so they weren't letting any ships out.  Instead we walked around the sea wall and enjoyed a calm, beautiful afternoon.  That evening, my cousin, Sarah, and her husband, David, invited us to their cute apartment for dinner.  It was so yummy and was a perfect throwback to our family dinners at Grandma's house growing up.

We loved every second with the Castros.  They are incredible hosts and I loved seeing a glimpse of their lives in Japan.  We slept remarkably well, loved reading and playing with our cousins.  Thank you, Annie and Victor for an unforgettable adventure!

Shields Say Konnichiwa 2015 Part I

My sister, Annie, and her sweet family have been living in Okinawa, Japan for the past two and a half years.  (See her blog HERE) They are moving back to the states so we snuck in an amazing visit right before they left.  You read that right, we traveled internationally with our two little sidekicks!  The kids were troopers- even with the 12 hour flight and the 3 hour connection to Okinawa AND the crazy time difference.

Victor picked us up from the airport and we arrived to their house around midnight Saturday night.  The next morning we were up (around 4 AM) and went to church with the Castros.  After church, we drove up to one of the places that I've been anxiously waiting to see- Sea Glass Beach and the musical road.  (We were so lucky that one of Annie's friends let her borrow their van so that we could all fit!) I wish I knew how to add video so I could show us driving on the musical road.  Basically the ridges on the road make a song when a car drive over it.  I think it's pretty awesome! I also brought home probably close to 20 lbs of sea glass.  I think it's so beautiful!  We also had an incredible dinner at Annie's house that night.  It was a great Sunday!

Monday our adventures took us to Fukugawa Falls!  It was a short hike that took us through the jungle.  We were warned to have a stick so you could get rid of the spider webs across the path.  It was a great tip.  The falls were beautiful and Michael loved the rope swing. (He didn't love the huge spiders that were on the rope swing, but once those were taken care of, the fun continued.) After the falls, we ate at probably my favorite spot the whole week. An authentic Japanese restaurant (shoes off and sitting on the floor) called Arashi.  I loved the fried rice and the pot stickers.  It was all delicious.  We also went to Pineapple World for their fun little pineapple car tour and the delicious samples!  Later that evening we went with the Castros to an amazing curry house for some yummy dinner.  It was a delicious day!

On Tuesday we squeezed in lots of great activities.  Starting with me blowing my own beautiful, Okinawan glass.  What a process.  I loved seeing a beautiful thing created from basically nothing.  So cool.  Then we went into Naha and went through the former Naval tunnels. Laila thought they were pretty scary.  They were a bit on the creepy, solemn side of things so I can't blame her there. But it was incredible to learn some more about the history of the beautiful island of Okinawa.   After the tunnels, we stopped at an amazing playground nearby that had some awesome roller slides.  They were so long, I was pretty sure I burned a hole in my pants.  Thankfully, that was not the case. This park was also Laila's (and mine) first experience with squatter toilets.  What an experience!  That night, I got bamboozled into joining Michael and Victor for dinner at sushi go round.  I know I'm probably in the minority, but I'm not much of a fan of sushi.  But I had fun with the concept of picking out what food you wanted as it traveled around the tables.  Laila liked watching the food too!

Wednesday had rain in the forecast so we went to the aquarium.  Laila LOVES the aquarium and fish.  This one definitely did not disappoint.  It has THREE huge whale sharks! I loved seeing how absolutely tiny humans are compared to these animals.  It was pretty remarkable.  While at the aquarium, we also ate lunch and had an Okinawan favorite- taco rice.  Then we head next door to the Tropical Dream Center. They had SOOO many beautiful orchids! I really enjoyed our brief visit.  To finish our day off, we stopped at Nakijin Ruins.  It was a bit muggy out, but so incredibly green and beautiful!