Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ie Island Trip - Part 1

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I'm a planner.  I'm an organizational control freak, and one of my favorite obsessions is planning trips.  Because of this, Matt tends to automatically take the back-seat on trip-planning.  So, it was much to my surprise to hear he had planned a small getaway over Valentine's weekend for the two of us.  We have a few places that we've still been wanting to see before we leave Japan, and one of those places is Ie-jima (or Ie Island), which is a tiny island off the coast of Okinawa.  It is the perfect weekend getaway location, as you are able to get to the island via a 30 minute ferry ride.  Matt even booked the Valentine's package at the YYY Resort for us and took care of researching the prices and schedules for the ferry - all of which was much appreciated.  Even though I absolutely love planning every aspect of a trip, it was a really nice change of pace for me to sit back and not really have to worry about much!   

One of the Ie Island ferries

The island's one mountain -  Mt. Gusuku

Leaving Okinawa behind

Since Ie Island is only about 6 miles across, we decided to take our bikes over on the ferry with us as our mode of transportation for the weekend.  Everything was within riding distance, so the first day, we ended up riding around the perimeter of the entire island, stopping along the way to sight see.   It was such a great day, and we had beautiful weather.  Ie Island is super quiet and relaxing.  Mostly a home to farmers, we had very few cars pass us the whole day while riding on the main road around the island.  We got to see everything that we wanted to as well as some extra things like whales - we both saw them playing in the water, and Matt saw one actually fully jump into the air!  Somehow, our trip to Ie Island was both relaxing and really good exercise at the same time!

The Ie-jima coastline
Ie was a major island used during the battle for Okinawa during WWII.  Today, the island is still used for exercises by the US Marines.  

This was us playing around on the old, abandoned US runway

This was around where we saw the whales:)

Niya Thiya Cave - this cave hid over 1,000 civilians during the 2-week battle on the island during the war!  It also contains a "fertility stone" which we were sure not to touch;)

Baby goats

Loved all the crops & lights!

Memorial for Ernie Pyle, the American journalist who died in this very spot during the war.

BBQ dinner

Stay tuned for the second portion of our trip to Ie-jima!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cherry Blossoms & A Musical Road

I can't believe its been almost a year since Matt and I were in Kyoto seeing the Cherry Blossoms!  It's that time again, at least it is here in Okinawa, where we get the earliest Cherry Blossoms in all of Japan.  We also get the pinkest blossoms in all of Japan as well.  Surprisingly, Matt has never been to one of the Sakura festivals here in Okinawa.  In past years he has always been gone.  Since this is our last Cherry Blossom season here, we decided to take a trip up north to Chuo Park in Nago, where one of the festivals was being held.  The trees weren't exactly in full bloom yet, but it was a beautiful day outside with lots of pretty things to see, nonetheless.   

Map of all the popular spots in Northern Okinawa

Cherry Blossom Beer

Afterward, we took a detour on our way back home to find a musical road that Matt had heard about.  Yes, you heard that right - a musical road.  You may have heard of these before, but I certainly never had, so it was much to my surprise that we actually had one in Okinawa!  For those of you who aren't familiar with these "musical roads", they basically have a series of grooves in them, strategically placed so that when you are driving in your car at a certain speed, the hum from the grooves on your tires creates a melody.  Crazy, I know.  We ended up finding it over on the east side of the island, and while it was much shorter than I expected, it was also kind of fun, especially since most people don't seem to know it's there! 

The start of the road

Check out the video clip of us testing out the musical road:


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hacksaw Ridge

Living in Okinawa, with its turquoise blue waters and good food, you tend to forget that a MAJOR battle of World War II took place in this very place, a battle where so many Americans, Japanese, and Okinawan civilians lost their lives.  One of the historic spots on the island isn't too far from our house.  Called Hacksaw Ridge, it was the scene of one of the most difficult struggles for the Americans during the battle.  The terrain at Hacksaw was basically a cliff, riddled with secret tunnels dug by the Japanese soldiers.  The Americans were forced to attempt to scale the cliffs in order to take the ridge from the Japanese.  And this is still what Hacksaw Ridge looks like today, with the exception of the tunnels, which are mostly blocked off.   

Path on the top of the ridge

Overlooking home sweet Okinawa:)

Matt took me there a few weekends ago on a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed the history and the view.  It is insane to think that American soldiers were once attempting to climb up the cliff sides at the very place we were standing.  It is literally hard to imagine - even when you're there!   

A TON of tombs built into the side of the ridge

The top of this passageway was blown off during the war

One of the many tunnel openings that the Japanese used during the battle - I thought these were crazy to see!

Thanks for following!