Nakijin Castle Ruins - Cherry Blossoms

Nakijin Castke ruins Okinawa

Last weekend we were finally blessed with a day of perfect weather! After my last blog post, this one is a very welcome contrast. I had been watching the weather forecast the whole week hoping for a sunny day and it was better than I expected. Sunday morning we got up and headed up north to the World Hertiage site of Nakijin Castle Ruins for the cherry blossom festival. It's a bit over an hours drive from our house, but the day was so beautiful we took the coastal scenic route rather than the Okinawa expressway. Once through Nago, we also opted for a more scenic drive along route 84 through the mountains. There were a lot of stalls selling Tankan (a kind of tangerine) so of course we stopped off and bought a bag!

Nakijin Castle Ruins Cherry blossoms
Beautiful blue ocean in the distance

Nakijin Castle ruins
Perfect weather
We arrived at about 10:30 and the carparks were already filling up. We walked around, and I got to take millions of cherry blossom photos. Cherry blossoms in Okinawa, are the first to bloom in Japan. When I first moved to Okinawa, I wasn't that fussed about going to see the cherry blossoms here because they didn't seems as beautiful as the ones on the mainland, however this year I finally went, and they were gorgeous. They are much more pink and vibrant that the ones on the mainland, and definitely suit the environment here perfectly.

Okinawa cherry blossoms

The trees aren't yet in full bloom, but it was still beautiful. I think in the next few days it will look amazing up there! The paths through the castle ruins were lined with little glass lanterns for the night time illumination of the site, so I also think it would be a great experience to head up there for a night time viewing of the blossoms and the ruins. If you are in Okinawa, it is definitely worth making the trip up north to view the cherry blossoms in Late January/early February!

Family selfie!

Nakijin Castle ruins
Old castle walls

Nakijin Castle ruins

Nakijin Castle ruins
Griff called this the cherry blossom forest

Love these guys

Okinawa Cherry blossom bird
This bird turned this picture into a postcard!

Okinawa cherry blossom
The cherry blossoms are much pinker than the ones on the mainland

Okinawa cherry blossom

Nakijin castle ruins

Nakijin castle ruins
Blue skies!

This stall was selling sugar cane juice and products
Okinawa cherry blossoms

After taking way too many photos we headed back to the entrance to check out all the stalls. Of course I couldn't resist getting some cherry blossom ice cream, which was incredibly delicious! We walked around the stalls and bought some omiyage including cherry blossom chinsuko cookies, and some cherry blossom castella cake before heading off to find a good cafe for lunch. The cafe we found for lunch deserves it's own blog post so stay tuned.....

Cherry blossom ice cream
Cherry blossom flavoured ice cream! Of course!

There were lots of stalls set up at the main entrance selling snacks and souvenirs
This mascot for dairy products is hilarious to me

More stalls

Cherry blossom chinsuko cookies

Winter in Okinawa

Over the weekend Okinawa really got on board with winter. It was miserable and rainy the whole time, and the wind sounded worse than some of the typhoons we had last year. The most exciting thing though was the fact that it was actually sleeting yesterday and Okinawa recorded the lowest ever ever recorded temperature in history! Craziness.

Blowing a gale
Yesterday I had to force myself out of the house to walk the dog. I was super rugged up and expected to hate every minute of it, however I kept to the back streets in my neighbourhood in the hopes of avoiding the worst of the wind, and I actually got to take some cute photos as well as spotting my first cherry blossom of the season!

So many pot plants

Nakadomari Onna-son
I remember my grandma and mum used to have these flowers when I was growing up. I liked how they were growing all over this roof.

Nakadomari Onna-son
Colour on a very gloomy dog walk

Spotted my first cherry blossom of the season

Entrance to a house in my neiaghbourhood
We only made on other short trip out for the day to the market for fresh vegetables as well as Green Leaf in Yomitan for a coffee and a snack and to stock up on some other groceries. The rest of the day was spent either rugged up under a blanket on the couch or rugged up under a blanket in bed reading and watching things. It looks like this burst of winter weather will be short-lived though, as it's due to warm up from tomorrow onwards, hopefully enough to get me out of the house for some real cherry blossom viewing up in Nago next weekend! I can't wait!

Onna Market
All ready for sakura season at Onna no eki.

Green Leaf Cafe Yomitan
Vegan tuna bagel from Green Leaf cafe was delicious!

Keeping warm in bed.

Niwa Cafe Ishikawa

A couple of weeks ago a friend invited us out to dinner to Niwa Cafe in Ishikawa and it was awesome.
Firstly, they were really accommodating about vegetarian options. My friend rang the day before to check if they had vegetarian options (because pretty much everything in Japan seems to include meat or fish stock even if it appears vegetarian) and they said they did. They actually went out of their way because they knew we were coming to prepare vegetable stock and a bunch of dishes on the menu that were vegetarian (and delicious!).
The other fantastic thing about this restaurant was the fact that they have a dining room in the back for people with kids that includes a little play house with a kitchen inside so the kids also had a great time. The boys spent the whole night playing in the little kitchen while we got to sit around and chat. I was actually loving the food so much that I forgot to take photos of pretty much everything we ate. Between 3 adults and 2 kids we ate a lot including a mushroom and spinach gratin, mushroom and garlic in oil, vegetable risotto, spaghetti Bolognese, coriander salad, lentil salad, tomato and fresh ricotta salad and croque monsieur. Little G has already declared it as his favourite restaurant and wants to go back. We will definitely go back. I would also like to try it in the daytime.

Niwa Cafe ishikawa
Cafe Niwa
Niwa Cafe Ishikawa
Kids play house with a play kitchen inside

Coriander salad
Tomato basil and ricotta salad and lentil salad

Croque monsier

Chocolate tart

Japan meets Australia

One year in Okinawa

Today is my one year anniversary of living in Okinawa! It has absolutely flown by. I can't believe that this time last year I was wrangling a 3 year old through 3 flights, then on to our new home. Looking for a house, driving in a foreign country for the first time and starting a new job on the other side of the world. It all seemed so strange, but now life in Okinawa just seems normal. I LOVE our house, and really appreciate the fact that I will never again my my life likely live in anything as big (let alone on the beach), as it's just not affordable in Australia. G has completely settled into his childcare and is getting better and better at Japanese, which is so awesome to see. I love hearing him chat to himself (or me!) in Japanese without even realising it!

Since we got back from Australia, we have only had 2 or 3 days of any sunshine, the rest has been windy, cold and rainy! Okinawan winters are pretty gross! I definitely wouldn't plan a trip over here during that time if you could avoid it. I'm really looking forward to the warmer months already. I miss the beach and the snorkelling! We've been keeping busy by perfecting our delicious healthy meals we cook at home as well as continuing with G's swimming lessons on the weekends. The Okinawan cherry blossoms should be blooming in the next couple of weeks, so I can't wait to get out and see them. They look totally different to the cherry blossoms on the mainland.

Beautiful weather the day we got back from Australia

Cute packaging and very expensive (about $30) mandarins.

Low calorie green curry
Low cal green curry

Broccoli soup
Broccoli and ginger soup

This lego plane and airport is the number 1 toy around here.
Mushi is finally starting to like (put up with) Griff's pats
Love these lights

Chocolate, Banana and Peanut butter muffins

pumpkin and broccoli soup
Pumpkin and roasted broccoli soup

More Old Japan Photos 2006-2007

Here's the second bunch of old photos from my time teaching English in Japan in 2006-2007. While I was there my mum, Aunty, my mum's friend and her sister came over for 2 weeks, so I took time off work to take them around the country. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. It was a really great time and we managed to catch peak bloom of the cherry blossoms the whole way around!

This year, sometime in November i'm hoping to make the trip to Kyoto to catch the autumn leaves. I love the seasons in Japan, as they're so much more pronounced than in Australia (and even in Okinawa, which just seems to have Summer for 9 months, then rain and wind for winter!).

Asakusa Japan


Fun times - Watching a punk band in Koga, nights out in Tokyo

Miyajima and Osaka Japan
My mum, Aunt and friends came to visit so I acted as tour guide for 2 weeks around Japan including Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Tokyo

Nikko Japan

Ghibli Museum Japan
Random shots including the Ghibli Museum, Plum blossoms, Shibuya and the Meiji shrine