December 29


Kannon DoKannon DoIn the morning, we started at a Kannon Do in Shuri. The temple was not particularly unusual, but there was a wonderful tree on the grounds. It was some kind of old banyan tree, I think, and it had roots running down the trunk and from the branches.




Okinawa MuseumAfterwards, we went back to the Shuri Castle area. Unfortunately, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum, which we had hoped to see, was closed for the holidays. (Museums are quite often closed from about the 29th through the first four or five days of the new year. When Kenji asked directions, the man he asked told him it was closed and said he had written letters to the editor about museums being closed at a time when there are so many tourists in Okinawa, but apparently to no avail.)RyutanWe walked around the ponds again and Kenji took more pictures, and then we went to the "rest center," which had some displays about Shuri and other World Heritage Sites in Okinawa. There were some videos, including one which I think was the traditional court New Year ceremony, which is reenacted every year. There were also models of the castle area, one as it appears in modern times and one from the 16th century.


We walked back down the hill on one of the old roads and stopped by the shop of a man who does traditional Okinawan dyeing. He showed us the stages that cloth goes through as it is dyed.


ShikinaenShikinaen After we left the Shuri Castle area, we went to Shikina-en, which was a residence of the Ryukyu royal family. It is a large garden centered around a pond with some buildings that have been reconstructed.  (The garden was destroyed in World War II, and was reconstructed over a period of about 20 years, starting in 1975.)ShikinaenshikinaenWe walked along the paths and saw Itokusen Spring, which is the source of water for the pond. It has two monuments at the spring opening, both erected by the chief delegates from China to Ryukyu coronations, one in 1800 and one in 1838. The main buidling is the palace, which has been reconstructed using the traditional methods, without nails. (On one of the walls in the back hall, we could see how boards were held in place, using two wedges through a hold from opposite sides.) The building was simple and sparce, with open rooms with tatami mats.shikinaen shikinaen>From the front of the building was a lovely view of the pond, which had two old stone bridges across it. There is also a tiny island near the opposite shore, with a small 6-sided building on it. It is connected to the shore with a small bridge, cut out of one block of limestone. We continued to walk around the pond, where we could see the outlet for the pond (which leads to a falls, but we couldn't see it from the angle where we were) and a place where boats used on the pond were stored. Then we walked away from the pond to a viewpoint. The famous thing about this viewpoint is that you can't see the ocean from it -- not a common situation in Okinawa. The King of the Ryukyus showed the view to some Chinese delegates to impress them with the size of his kingdom. (I don't know whether they were duly impressed or not.) This a beautiful, pleasant garden, one of the most impressive places that we visited.


ungerground tunnelheadquarterAfter visiting Shikina-en, we went to the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. It is a series of tunnels built by the Japanese navy in 1944 as their headquarters when the American forces planned to make it their "unsinkable battleship" for the invasion of the mainland.where Commander Ohta diedtunnelAbout 275 meters of tunnel are open to the public, which includes the staff room, the code room, the commanding officers room, etc. One room was identified as the room where Rear Admiral Minoru Ota committed suicide when it became obvious that the Japanese would be defeated in Okinawa. (Some 2000 other military men apparently committed suicide as well.) There was also a small museum with artifacts, uniforms, etc., from the tunnels.


We walked down to a park but decided not to visit it, and went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. We took a taxi to the airport and flew back to Osaka.