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Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) – Okinawa, Japan

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Okinawa 沖縄県 designated in 2000. It is also one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡 Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Okinawa 沖縄県 designated in 2000. It is also one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡 Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.

 

Hubby has sworn that he will not leave the house until summer is over. To those who have been and are in Okinawa, you will know what I mean. This island sizzles in summer! But weekends are meant to be outdoors so we braved the sun and drove to Katsuren Castle located on the east side of the island. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful backyards we have in Okinawa and probably my new favorite. A gusuku (fortresses of regional chieftains when Okinawa was an independent Ryukyu Kingdom) nestled on top of a hill in Uruma City, it is one of Okinawa’s proud UNESCO World Heritage Sites designated in 2000. It is also one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡 Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Okinawa 沖縄県 designated in 2000.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Okinawa 沖縄県 designated in 2000.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡 Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) is one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡 Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

 

HISTORY

It is said that King Sho Taikyu of Ryukyu Kingdom was threatened by the power of an aji lord (ruler of a petty kingdom in the history of the Ryukyu Islands), Amawari of Katsuren, so he arranged a marriage between Amawari and his daughter, Momoto Fumiagari. However, the king learned that Amawari plotted to attack Shuri Castle and overthrow him as a king so he had his royal forces defeat and killed Amawari. There were no powerful lords that arose from Katsuren Castle thereafter.

Some of the artifacts found at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

Some of the artifacts found at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

 

CASTLE TOUR

The castle has 4 enclosures.

3rd Enclosure – Ceremonies and rituals took place in this enclosure.
2nd Enclosure – It is believed that a pillard building as grand as Shurijo Castle stood within, serving as a core of the castle and a public office of the region.
1st Enclosure – It is speculated as a repository for valuables.

The stairs leading to the third enclosure of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

The stairs leading to the third enclosure of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

View of the second and first enclosure as seen from the third enclosure of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

View of the second and first enclosure as seen from the third enclosure of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

The old and original steps to the top of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) as seen on the left, and the new stairs on the right.

The old and original steps to the top of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) as seen on the left, and the new stairs on the right.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan is built on a limestone and some beautiful rock formations are very captivating.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan is built on a limestone and some beautiful rock formations are very captivating.

 

RELIGIOUS SITE

There are numerous gods being worshipped in ancient Okinawa, believed to protect the island and the Okinawans in daily life. There are some of these altars at Katsuren to protect the Aji and the castle itself.

The altar of Umichimun or God of Fire at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This is  believed to be the castle's kitchen.

The altar of Umichimun or God of Fire at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This is believed to be the castle’s kitchen.

The Ushinujigama (gama means cave) Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This was used as a refuge during war and natural disasters.

The Ushinujigama (gama means cave) Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This was used as a refuge during war and natural disasters.

The Tamanomiuji-utaki at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This stone protects the castle as a sacred shrine. This is also a place of worship dedicated to a god who protects the Aji or the regional lord of Okinawa. This is believed to lead to Ushinujigama.

The Tamanomiuji-utaki at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan. This stone protects the castle as a sacred shrine. This is also a place of worship dedicated to a god who protects the Aji or the regional lord of Okinawa. This is believed to lead to Ushinujigama.

 

FROM THE TOP

And the reward after the climb? A beautiful panorama view from the top!

View of the lower enclosures from the top of The Tamanomiuji-utaki at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

View of the lower enclosures from the top of The Tamanomiuji-utaki at Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

The beautiful panorama view from the top (first enclosure) of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

The beautiful panorama view from the top (first enclosure) of Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

 

Still want to lurk at home until summer is over?

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

Katsuren Castle 勝連城 (Katsuren-gusuku) in Uruma City, Okinawa 沖縄県, Japan.

 

ADMISSION is free :)

 

 

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Okinawa

 

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National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관

Museums are not the favorite of tourists to visit while on a trip, but my husband thinks otherwise. So while waiting for our scheduled bus from Seoul to Songtan, hubby and I made a short walk to the National Museum of Korea. It appeared that our visit to the gallery was actually gratifying. It is, after all, the sixth largest museum in the world in terms of floor space. On the day of our visit, the facility was filled with kids, all wanting to strike a conversation or two which was to our amusement. We toured the entire three floors of the building in half a day and capped it off with a festive Korean lunch before we head out to the next city.

This cultural and architectural masterpiece was opened in October 28, 2005 and has reported to have attracted an attendance of 20 million visitors since. Admission is free to the Main Exhibition Hall and to the Children’s Museum but there is a separate charge for the special exhibition in the Special Exhibition Gallery.

FIRST FLOOR - Prehistory and Ancient History Gallery Medieval and Early Modern History Gallery
SECOND FLOOR – Donation Gallery and the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery
THIRD FLOOR - Sculpture and Crafts Gallery and  Asian Arts Gallery

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Opened in October 28, 2005, the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea has three floors. It is the sixth largest museum in the world in terms of floor space. It is reported to have attracted an attendance of 20 million visitors since its opening.

Opened in October 28, 2005, the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea has three floors. It is the sixth largest museum in the world in terms of floor space. It is reported to have attracted an attendance of 20 million visitors since its opening.

The park outside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsa, Seoul, South Korea.

The park outside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsa, Seoul, South Korea.

The Ten-story Stone Pagoda from Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site as exhibited inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The Ten-story Stone Pagoda from Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site as exhibited inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The Ten-story Stone Pagoda from Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site as exhibited inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The Ten-story Stone Pagoda from Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site as exhibited inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The turtle statue exhibit inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The turtle statue exhibit inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The Golden crown of Silla Kingdom, National Treasure No. 188 of South Korea, as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

The Golden crown of Silla Kingdom, National Treasure No. 188 of South Korea, as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

A golden belt, the National Treasure No. 190 of South Korea as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

A golden belt, the National Treasure No. 190 of South Korea as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul.

A warrior in full armor displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

A warrior in full armor displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

An instrument to measure the depth of river as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

An instrument to measure the depth of river as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Gaya warrior as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Gaya warrior as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Buddha exhibit inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Buddha exhibit inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

The Calligraphy exhibit at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

The Calligraphy exhibit at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Tripitaka scroll display at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

Tripitaka scroll display at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

A replica of the King's throne as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

A replica of the King’s throne as displayed inside the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

The restaurant at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

The restaurant at the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관 in Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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Changdeokgung 창덕궁 – Seoul, South Korea

The last stop of our guided tour in Seoul is the Changdeokgung Palace, another Seoul’s national pride that made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1997. Literally means “Palace of Illustrious Virtue”, Changdeokgung Palace was built in 1405 when the then Joseon King Taejong thought that the existing Gyeongbokgung Palace is inauspicious. As most palaces in Seoul, Changdeokgung Palace is a reconstruction (1610) after it was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion.

Also known as the Second Palace, Changdeokgung boasts 13 buildings on its palace grounds and 28 pavilions in its gardens. With a palace this big and architectured based on pungsu (feng shui) principles, I still wonder why George R. R. Martin has not incorporated this gem into its Game of Thrones show script yet.

Donhwamun Gate 돈화문, the two-storied building that serves as the main entrance to the Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

Donhwamun Gate 돈화문, the two-storied building that serves as the main entrance to the Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

One of the doors at the Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea that speaks of beauty.

One of the doors at the Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea that speaks of beauty.

The palace grounds right outside its main hall, the Injeongjeon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

The palace grounds right outside its main hall, the Injeongjeon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

 

INJEONGJEON HALL 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace, was used for conducting major state affairs including the coronation of a new king, assembly of officials, and reception of foreign envoys. This, in theory, is where the real Game of Thrones should take action. Seven Kingdoms, my friend, your Iron Throne is out, Injeongjeon is in!

Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, was used for conducting major state affairs including the coronation of a new king, assembly of officials, and reception of foreign envoys.

Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, was used for conducting major state affairs including the coronation of a new king, assembly of officials, and reception of foreign envoys.

Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, was used for conducting major state affairs including the coronation of a new king, assembly of officials, and reception of foreign envoys.

Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, was used for conducting major state affairs including the coronation of a new king, assembly of officials, and reception of foreign envoys.

A closer view of Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea. The details of the roof is artistically beautiful!

A closer view of Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea. The details of the roof is artistically beautiful!

The throne inside the Injeongheon Hall 인정전 of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea. Not quite the Iron Throne but this is the seat of power everyone will die for.

The throne inside the Injeongheon Hall 인정전 of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea. Not quite the Iron Throne but this is the seat of power everyone will die for.

 

Of course, the two boys with me, hubby Jon and his friend, JT, won’t let this opportunity pass them by. While standing in front of the Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, they were probably plotting how to win the throne. Nice try Unsullieds!

Hubby Jon and his friend, JT, standing in front of the Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, probably plotting how to win the throne.

Hubby Jon and his friend, JT, standing in front of the Injeongheon Hall 인정전, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea, probably plotting how to win the throne.

 

COURTYARD

The courtyard in front of Injeongheon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The courtyard in front of Injeongheon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The courtyard on the side of Injeongheon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The courtyard on the side of Injeongheon Hall 인정전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

HUIJEONGDANG HALL

Huijeongdang Hall 희정당 is the King's work station. The hall's interior design is heavily influenced by the West and the drive way is built to accommodate the King's newly introduced modern mode of transportation, the car.

Huijeongdang Hall 희정당 is the King’s work station. The hall’s interior design is heavily influenced by the West and the drive way is built to accommodate the King’s newly introduced modern mode of transportation, the car.

A peek inside the Huijeongdang Hall 희정당 of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A peek inside the Huijeongdang Hall 희정당 of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

Apparently, hubby Jon and JT weren’t the only souls hungry for the throne. I checked the Daejojeon Hall  (Queen’s chamber) myself in the hope of finding clues on how to win the throne, ideally not the Cersei Lannister way.

Standing in front of the Daejojeon Hall (Queen's chamber) 대조전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Standing in front of the Daejojeon Hall (Queen’s chamber) 대조전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A peek inside the Daejojeon Hall (Queen's chamber) 대조전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A peek inside the Daejojeon Hall (Queen’s chamber) 대조전 at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

Or maybe sneak into the back of Huijeongdang, the King’s residence, and win the throne. Eflida, the King Slayer! Ugh.

The back portion of Huijeongdang Hall (희정당) or the King's Chamber at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The back portion of Huijeongdang Hall (희정당) or the King’s Chamber at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

But I was reminded by the Starks of virtues and Daenerys’ morals to uphold, so I just took a last look of the palace and called it a day.

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

View of Donhwamun Gate 돈화문 looking out from the inside of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

View of Donhwamun Gate 돈화문 looking out from the inside of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

 

I didn’t get the Seven Kingdoms, but I experienced the Changdeokgung moment, perhaps the only closest thing I can get. We had to say goodbye to our wonderful tour guide, Mr. Mark, and thanked him for the fun. All these memories are all to be treasured for until we get old. I am pretty sure Hodor agrees.

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in Seoul, South Korea.

 

TRAVELLER’S NOTE : Visit the Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex in the afternoon if you intend to avoid the big crowd. There also gigantic bowls on top of the stone platform in front of the Injeongjeon Hall which nobody can miss.They are called Deumeu  드므 and were meant to put out fire if there is any. In theory, these Deumeu were meant to scare away the fire demon called Bulgwisin 불귀신 or Hwama 화마 so that when they look into the water, they will be frightened by its own reflection and would go away. Some scenes fromthe Korean TV miniseries Daejanggeum 대장금, or Jewel in the Palace were also shot here.

The big bowls on top of the stone platform in front of the Injeongjeon Hall at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex are called Deumeu  드므 and were meant to put out fire.

The big bowls on top of the stone platform in front of the Injeongjeon Hall at Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 complex are called Deumeu 드므 and were meant to put out fire.

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 – South Korea

According to UNESCO, Jongmyo Shrine is the oldest and the most authentic of the Confucian royal shrines to have been preserved. It was built in dedication to the forefathers of Joseon dynasty in 14th century by Lee Seong Gye, the first and founding father of the dynasty, to house the tablets of teachings of the members of the former royal family. It was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1995 for its well-preserved ancient customs such as its memorial service called “Jongmyo Jerye”, and its traditional ceremonial music called Jongmyo Jaeryeak. Most parts of the shrine are restorations since a lot had been damaged during the Japanese invasion.

Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 - South Korea

Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 – South Korea

 

HEAVEN MEETS EARTH

Once inside the shrine, the first noticeable thing is the pond to the left and another one just a little farther to the right. Each pond is square to represent Earth and in the middle of the pond is a small round island to represent the heavens.

The pond on the left side of the entrance of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

The pond on the left side of the entrance of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

The pond on the right side of the entrance of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

The pond on the right side of the entrance of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

SOLEMNITY and ADMITTANCE 

One very distinctive feature of Jongmyo Shrine is the 3-forked path of slightly raised roads which are built for the king, the crown prince and the spirits. Our guide made sure that we avoid certain path walks to show respect to the ancestors of the Joseon Dynasty. The tour around the shrine is a very solemn walk so we also tried to keep our voices low. Back in the Joseon Dynasty period, only people paying formal homage to the royal ancestors were admitted to the inside of the shrine so being here was such a great honor.

Our tour guide showing us certain paths that are only reserved for the king, the crown prince and the spirits at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

Our tour guide showing us certain paths that are only reserved for the king, the crown prince and the spirits at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

A solemn walk around Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

A solemn walk around Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

The colors of red and green are used at Jongmyo shrine 종묘대제 to symbolize solemnity, piety, and sublimity because bright colors would not allow the spirits of the kings and queens to rest in peace.

The colors of red and green are used at Jongmyo shrine 종묘대제 to symbolize solemnity, piety, and sublimity because bright colors would not allow the spirits of the kings and queens to rest in peace.

The colors of red and green are used at Jongmyo shrine 종묘대제 to symbolize solemnity, piety, and sublimity because bright colors would not allow the spirits of the kings and queens to rest in peace.

The colors of red and green are used at Jongmyo shrine 종묘대제 to symbolize solemnity, piety, and sublimity because bright colors would not allow the spirits of the kings and queens to rest in peace.

The King at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 – South Korea

The King at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 – South Korea

 

The courtyard that leads to the main hall of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

The courtyard that leads to the main hall of Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

JEONGJEON and YEONGNYEONGJEON

The highlight of the shrine is the hall where the ceremonies were held. The main shrine, Jeongjeon, has 49 royal spirit tables and 19 different windowless rooms, all honoring 19 different Joseon dynasty kings. This was constructed in 1395. The giant pillars really stood out painted in red,  and the wide and spacious courtyard also gave an additional character to the shrine.

Jeongjeon (정전), the main hall at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, has 49 royal spirit tables and 19 different windowless rooms, all honoring 19 different Joseon dynasty kings.

Jeongjeon (정전), the main hall at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, has 49 royal spirit tables and 19 different windowless rooms, all honoring 19 different Joseon dynasty kings.

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Jeongjeon (정전), the main hall at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, has 49 royal spirit tables and 19 different windowless rooms, all honoring 19 different Joseon dynasty kings.

The spacious courtyard in front of Jeongjeon (정전) at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Jongmyo Jerye or memorial service is performed.

The spacious courtyard in front of Jeongjeon (정전) at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Jongmyo Jerye or memorial service is performed.

Another view of the spacious courtyard in front of Jeongjeon (정전) at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Jongmyo Jerye or memorial service is performed.

Another view of the spacious courtyard in front of Jeongjeon (정전) at Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Jongmyo Jerye or memorial service is performed.

 

Through time, Jeongjeon shrine needed more space to house more spirit tables and more area for the later kings. As an annex, the smaller shrine, Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace), was built. It has 34 spirit tablets of lesser kings in six rooms.

The smaller shrine, Yeongnyeongjeon 영녕전 (Hall of Eternal Peace), was built as an annext to Jeongjeon. It has 34 spirit tablets of lesser kings in six rooms.

The smaller shrine, Yeongnyeongjeon 영녕전 (Hall of Eternal Peace), was built as an annext to Jeongjeon. It has 34 spirit tablets of lesser kings in six rooms.

The courtyard at the smaller shrine, Yeongnyeongjeon 영녕전 (Hall of Eternal Peace), the annext to Jeongjeon with 34 spirit tablets of lesser kings in six rooms.

The courtyard at the smaller shrine, Yeongnyeongjeon 영녕전 (Hall of Eternal Peace), the annext to Jeongjeon with 34 spirit tablets of lesser kings in six rooms.

 

The colors of red and green are used at Jongmyo shrine to symbolize solemnity, piety, and sublimity because bright colors would not allow the spirits of the kings and queens to rest in peace. The solemnity of the shrine is unlike any other tourist spots we have been to in Seoul. It is very quiet and it reminded  me of Fushimi Inari Taisha  in Kyoto, only Jongmyo Shrine is a lot less creepier.
Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

Jongmyo Shrine 종묘대제 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

PS. While waiting for our tour to start, our guide, Mr. Mark, gave a spontaneous lesson on Hangul, the official language of South Korea. It was surprisingly easy to learn! However, while I am quick to learn, I am also quick to forget. Oh well. Maybe another addition to my bucket list?

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon,South Korea 수원, 대한민국

Hubby asked what will I blog today and I replied, “I will blog about you.” He did not take that seriously and asked twice, probably hoping for a better answer.

“What will you blog about today?”

HWAESEONG HAENGGUNG PALACE AND FORTRESS

Hubby and I rarely hop on an arranged tour being his planning and navigation skills proven and well tested in all our travels. But on our third day in South Korea, we both agreed to take advantage of some guided tours for convenience and perhaps, for some educational translation. Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace is also about an hour drive from Seoul so the guided tour appeared to be a marvelous plan.

Brief historical background. In the mid 18th century, Crown Prince Sado was born as the second son of the Korean King Yeongjo of Joseon dynasty and the heir to the throne after his older brother  Prince Hyojang’s early death. However, Prince Sado was rumored to have become mentally ill and was royal decreed to be murdered by being locked alive and starved inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo after failing to obey the command to commit suicide. He died after 8 days and his remains was buried on Mt BaebongSan in Yangju. In 1789, Prince Sado’s body was moved by his son King Jeongjo to its current location, Hyeollyungwon, and built the new Suwon city, and constructed the city fortress, Suwon and Hwaseong Fortress. Within these walls, King Jeongjo built and completed the Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace in 1796 and served as his temporary royal palace during his visits to his father’s tomb.

King Jeongjo also held a splendid feast  for his mother, Hyegyeonggung Hong, on her 60th birthday in this palace.  Afterall, what better venue to show gratitude to a mother than hosting a feast in the largest palace in South Korea with 576 chambers to boast, right?

Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Our Korean tour guide, Mr. Mark, leading the way at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Our Korean tour guide, Mr. Mark, leading the way at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Our Korean tour guide, Mr. Mark, leading the way at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Our Korean tour guide, Mr. Mark, leading the way at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea. The five mountains with sun and moon indicate royalty. The five mountains represent the five that surround Seoul.

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea. The five mountains with sun and moon indicate royalty. The five mountains represent the five that surround Seoul.

Food storages inside Bongnaedang 복내당 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Food storages inside Bongnaedang 복내당 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea.


While the Hwaseong Fortress served to enshrine King Jeongjo’s tomb, it was of course for political and military purposes. 5.7-kilometer long, 5-meter high fortress wall features stone walls and towers accented with architectural splendor and a number of secret passages. Our tour guide, Mr.Mark, was also very proud to say that this fortress was a result of application of scientific knowledge using advanced and modern machines like cranes and pulleys thereby completing the construction earlier than planned. It is inscribed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1997.

Hwahongmun Gate (화홍문), part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산])  – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwahongmun Gate (화홍문), part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산])  – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

 

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산])  – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산])  – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산])  – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Part of the Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

 

HWASEONG TRAIN, ARCHERY, KOREAN POP INVASION 

One of the enjoyable parts of the tour around the fortress is the ride on the Hwaseong Train Tourist that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae. Boy, nobody gets to hop on a dragon train anywhere else than here. It reminded me of the anime Dragon Ball Z! However, I personally would have preferred walking around the fortress on foot, except that I would have died before I reach the mountain top. It was also spring-ish when we visited so there was a slight trace of Cherry Blossom left and it was splendidly beautiful.

Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Marvelling at some cherry blossom left aboard the Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Marvelling at some cherry blossom left aboard the Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

 

There was also an archery range in front of Dongjangdae  that showcases the traditional Korean archery or Gukgung with brief introduction on basic postures and shooting the arrow. I was excited to try but we were afraid we will run short of time.

Traditional Korean archery or Gukgung 각궁 at Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Traditional Korean archery or Gukgung 각궁 at Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace has been famous but had been dramatically popular in the last few years big thanks to the Korean TV drama Daejanggeum, famously known in Asia as the “Jewel in the Palace”. Scenes of young Jang-geum undergoing training at the palace in cooking competition, the training of women doctors and Naeuiwon (medical facility in the palace) scenes, and many others were filmed here.

Several scenes from the Korean TV series Daejanggeum or the "jewel in the Palace" 대장금 was filmed at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Several scenes from the Korean TV series Daejanggeum or the “Jewel in the Palace” 대장금 was filmed at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Several scenes from the Korean TV series Daejanggeum or the "jewel in the Palace" 대장금 was filmed at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Several scenes from the Korean TV series Daejanggeum or the “jewel in the Palace” 대장금 was filmed at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

 

MARTIAL ARTS

During our Kyoto trip and while in this Seoul tour , we have come to notice that it is normal to see an ocean of kids ( insert exaggeration ) touring around as well, running and shouting and just being, oh well kids. But everyone paused and gathered in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion at 2pm to wait for the 24 Moves Martial Arts show to begin. We all, without exemption, awed at the elite guards of Jangyeongyong as they showcase their 24 Martial Arts of Joseon Dynasty moves ala real life ninjas. The 24 Disciplines of the Military Arts, or “Muye 24 Gi”  refers to the 24 disciplines of the military arts described in detail in the book Muye Dobo Tongji (The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of the Martial Arts of Ancient Korea) that was published in 1790, the 14th year of the reign of King Jeongjo. Korean kids were also very friendly, asking us politely for photos with them.

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

 

Here is a short clip of the Martial Arts show :

 

SUWON HWASEONG MUSEUM (수원화성박물관)

A quick trip to Suwon Hwaseong Museum which is right outside Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace is a good addition to our travel itinerary!

Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

 

FRIENDSHIP

A day spent with my husband is always a blessing and a travel with him is always, always a treasure. But what made this tour extra special is having to enjoy it with one of my husband’s best friends, JT, who joined us for the entire day and shared some of these unforgettable moments.

At Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

At Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

At Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

At Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Aboard the Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Aboard the Hwaseong Train Tourist, a dragon train that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae in Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage] (수원 화성 [유네스코 세계문화유산]) – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Korean girls politely asked us for a photo in after watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Korean girls politely asked us for a photo in after watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

After watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

After watching the 24 Martial Arts Trial Performance (무예24기 시범공연) in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion 신풍루 at Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hubby and our friend JT listening attentively to our Korean tour guide Mr.Mark as he explains the construction details of Hwaseong Fortress inside Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 in Suwon 수원, South Korea.

Hubby and our friend JT listening attentively to our Korean tour guide Mr.Mark as he explains the construction details of Hwaseong Fortress inside Suwon Hwaseong Museum (수원화성박물관) 궁 in Suwon 수원, South Korea.

 

 

Hubby asked what will I blog today and I replied, “I will blog about you.” Yes, there was an ounce of truth to that, but in a bigger picture, I write about our stories and memories. Life is, after all, about moments and about people coming into our lives and giving meaning to our otherwise lonely existence.  Be a good memory.

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁 – Suwon 수원, South Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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Nison-in Temple 二尊院 – Kyoto, Japan

Nison-in Temple in Arashiyama District is easily accessed after a stroll along Hozu River , followed by a walk around Tenryū-ji Temple and Sagano Bamboo Forest Grove. Be warned, however, that it is quite a walk but is certainly a haven for those who prefer lesser crowd and for those who seek a tranquil place for meditation. I consider our visit to this temple a simple feat thinking I would not survive the walk with my blistered feet. The reward, as we always say, comes to those who keeps striving, and in my case, who keeps walking.

Nison-in Temple was founded in the mid 9th century under the Tendai sect and is formally known as Ogurayama Nison-in Kedai-ji. The temple is most preferred to be visited during autumn season.

The Main Hall of Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 ,  Japan 日本.

The Main Hall of Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

The path of meditation leading to the main temple of Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

The path of meditation leading to the main temple of Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

The bell at Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

The bell at Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

A beautiful descend from Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

A beautiful descend from Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

Nison-in Temple 二尊院 in Kyoto 京都市 , Japan 日本.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Kyoto

 

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Fukushuen Garden 福州園 – Naha City, Okinawa, Japan

While it seems odd deviant to find a Chinese Garden in Japan, it is but fitting to be so in Naha. Afterall, Okinawa has been highly exposed and influenced by Chinese culture being its tributary state before it became one of Japan’s prefecture. Such influence is reflected in its art, food and architecture among many other things. What separates Fukushuen Garden from any other Chinese gardens, however, is its authenticity. The garden was designed by officials from Fuzhou, the capital of China’s Fujian province, bringing along with them “engineers” and materials all the way from Fuzhou to Okinawa. That is authenticity to a whole new level!

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha was designed by officials from Fuzhou, the capital of China’s Fujian province, bringing along with them "engineers" and materials all the way from Fuzhou 福州市 to Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha was designed by officials from Fuzhou, the capital of China’s Fujian province, bringing along with them “engineers” and materials all the way from Fuzhou 福州市 to Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan.

 

WATER ELEMENTS

Of all garden types, water garden is my favorite, lake and pond alike. It is a Chinese belief that water symbolizes communication and dreams. I personally believe it to symbolize life that is perhaps why I have always wanted a wall fountain at home.  Sorry, but we cannot afford to buy a pond nor a lake nor a huge house to fit all those :)

The waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島,  Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島,  Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The pond and gazebo and some parts of the small bridge with Chinese animals signs at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島,  Japan 日本国.

The pond and gazebo and some parts of the small bridge with Chinese animals signs at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The Chinese pagoda and the pond at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島,  Japan 日本国.

The Chinese pagoda and the pond at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A pavilion at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A pavilion at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

STONE symbolizes the abode and dwelling of the spirits or the immortals.

The artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Inside the hollow structure of the artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Inside the hollow structure of the artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

DSC01034Looking outside from the inside the hollow structure of the artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Looking outside from the inside the hollow structure of the artificial waterfall at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A pavilion at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A pavilion at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

PLANTS are representation of the various aspects of life and each plant has a different meaning. Bamboo, for example, represents strength, endurance, flexibility, longevity.

One of the entrances to a building covered in bamboo at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

One of the entrances to a building covered in bamboo at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

 

ARCHITECTURE or a small temple, gazebo or a zigzag path aids the visitors in their journey to the self.

Interesting zigzag covered walkway at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Interesting zigzag covered walkway at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese pagoda at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The beautiful Chinese pagoda at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Chinese architecture at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

And different shapes of Chinese gates is something not to miss at Fukushuen Garden!

 

The Moon Gate 月门 at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

The Moon Gate 月门 at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A unique gate at  Gate 月门 at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

A unique gate at Gate 月门 at Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

LOVE

Tranquility is what all Chinese gardens and gardens in general are for, and Fukushuen Garden is no exemption. But let me add LOVE (*wink*wink*) to the other elements of a Chinese garden. Essentially not a classic, but err, why not? I may have disappointed hubby when I didn’t agree to go to Osaka for this year’s wedding anniversary celebration. Not that I was not excited over the idea, but I have been wanting to visit Osaka or Kyoto again in autumn to see fall colors. But this day has nothing to complain for, especially that we are happy together, and in a poet’s world, is what truly matters.

 

TRAVELLER’S NOTE : Entrance to the garden is FREE of charge :)

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

Fukushuen Garden 福州園 in downtown Naha 那覇市 Okinawa 沖縄本島, Japan 日本国.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in JAPAN, Okinawa

 

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Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 – Seoul, South Korea

I would like to name the day we visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Namsangol Traditional Village as the “Seoul-is-covered-in-fog” day. Our short stay was timed in spring but hubby and I did not expect such a nebula all throughout the city. Is Seoul normally foggy this season? Maybe or maybe not, I would like to know.

Gwanghamun Gate 광화문, the main and the largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Gwanghamun Gate 광화문, the main and the largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Geunjeongmun 한국어 or the The Third Inner Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Geunjeongmun 한국어 or the The Third Inner Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전, the main hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the 223rd national treasure of South Korea, is where the King officially conducts the state's affairs and official meetings.

Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전, the main hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the 223rd national treasure of South Korea, is where the King officially conducts the state’s affairs and official meetings.

The number of figurines on the roof indicate the importance of the building with 9 being the most important.  Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 had 7.

The number of figurines on the roof indicate the importance of the building with 9 being the most important. Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 had 7.

 

Not-quite-the-Iron-Throne.

The throne similar on the 1000 Won note. The five mountains with sun and moon indicate royalty. The five mountains represent the five that surround Seoul.

The throne similar on the 1000 Won note. The five mountains with sun and moon indicate royalty. The five mountains represent the five that surround Seoul.

 

Not-quite-the-Iron-Throne-either but I like this better.

The throne inside  Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The throne inside Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The golden dragon on the ceiling of Geunjeongjeon Hall indicates royalty.

The golden dragon on the ceiling of Geunjeongjeon Hall indicates royalty.

Gyeonghoeru 경회루 or the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, is the Royal Banquet Hall where special state banquets were held inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea. This is the country's National Treasure No. 224.

Gyeonghoeru 경회루 or the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, is the Royal Banquet Hall where special state banquets were held inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea. This is the country’s National Treasure No. 224.

The inner courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The inner courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random door with character at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random door with character at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Sujeongjeon 수정전 used by the cabinet of the Joseon Dynasty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Sujeongjeon 수정전 used by the cabinet of the Joseon Dynasty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The inner courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The inner courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Taewonjeon 태원전 or Taewonjeon Shrine at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Taewonjeon 태원전 or Taewonjeon Shrine at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Beautiful random courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Beautiful random courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random spring beauty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random spring beauty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random spring beauty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Random spring beauty at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A beautifully detailed roof at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A beautifully detailed roof at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

View of the National Folk Museum as seen inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

View of the National Folk Museum as seen inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Wonderfully crafted courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Wonderfully crafted courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The Governor-General's Residence at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

The Governor-General’s Residence at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Hyangwonjeong  향원정 or Hyangwonjeong Pavilion at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Hyangwonjeong 향원정 or Hyangwonjeong Pavilion at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Hyangwonjeong 향원정 or the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion built on an artificial island on a lake named Hyangwonji 향원지 at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.  Hyangwonjeong translates as "Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance".

Hyangwonjeong 향원정 or the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion built on an artificial island on a lake named Hyangwonji 향원지 at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea. Hyangwonjeong translates as “Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance”.

View of the National Folk Museum as seen inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

View of the National Folk Museum as seen inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

It is also “My-husband-is-popular-and-adored-by-Korean-kids” Day. Don’t ask me why because I also have no idea. Random kids just come up to us to talk which I found very cute and amusing. Here is a proof!

Korean kids being friendly to my husband at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Korean kids being friendly to my husband at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

And my “YEY-bean-paste-pot” and “LOOK!-korean-drama-actress” day. You can tell how huge a fan I am of Korean cuisine and Korean drama!

Fermented soy paste in clay pots at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Fermented soy paste in clay pots at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Behind us are fermented soy paste in clay pots at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Behind us are fermented soy paste in clay pots at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A poster of Dae Jang Geum 대장금 (The Great Jang-geum), or the Jewel in the Palace, at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

A poster of Dae Jang Geum 대장금 (The Great Jang-geum), or the Jewel in the Palace, at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

Kiss-and-make-up  day!

At Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

At Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

With the Royal Guards or "Wanggung Sumunjang" at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

With the Royal Guards or “Wanggung Sumunjang”at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Selfie photos collage taken at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Selfie photos collage taken at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

Despite the overcast, however, what we saw and experienced at the Gyeongbokgung Palace was remarkable. Gyeongbokgung literally means the “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven” and it is truly living up to its name until this day. While it is mostly a reconstruction after the city was razed by the Japanese in the late 16th century, the palace stands out in its beauty and above all, its grandeur. It is the largest palace of the Five Grand Palace built by the Joseon Dynasty and one day is not enough to enjoy the entire palace. Be warned as well that it is one of the most visited places by tourists so be prepared with rubbing shoulders with strangers. Known as National Historic Site No. 117, Gyeongbokgung Palace requires a loooooot of (enjoyable) walking but will reward each tourist with loads of unforgettable memories :)

A crowded Geunjeongmun 한국어 on a spring day.

A crowded Geunjeongmun 한국어 on a spring day.

Full view of Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 and a gathering tourists at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

Full view of Geunjeongjeon Hall 근정전 and a gathering tourists at Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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SEOUL-ful Namsangol Traditional Village – South Korea

Seoul is my flashback of two things.

A summer dream.
A love once lost.

It was 10 summers ago when I started my romance with Seoul. It was that summer when I had my first paid job with Korean friends, my first annyeonghaseyo, my first kimchi and my first memory of Sassy Girl.  It was that wonderful verano when I fell in love with Seoul, and I dreamt of meeting her someday since then. A decade after and some battle scars here and there, the touchdown at Incheon felt oneiric. Ten years somehow was never too early nor too late to see a dream come true.  

And there was this man six Decembers ago. He was my first thought in the morning and my last at night. He was my Venus. I loved, then lost. But I healed and fought. I guess love knows no time. Six years proved to be neither too short nor too long to love over and over again, with the same man. These days, I travel with him in tow while I wear a wedding ring and his last name around. Now, Shakespeare, take that.

THE HERE AND NOW

Cheonugak Pavilion at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Cheonugak Pavilion at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

 

With lessons learned and better judgement, we are determined to make better memories. A week stay ended too quick but here is to share some remarkable moments. Our first stop is the Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, a re-creation of a small village that depicts the architecture and gardens of the Chosun (Joseon) Dynasty. The village is certainly not a disappointment, and so is Seoul itself!

This is just a teaser for more stories to come. Browse for more very soon so together, we can cheer to fiery hearts and to a better us.

One of the beautiful entrances to the traditional Korean houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

One of the beautiful entrances to the traditional Korean houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek inside one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses in Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek inside one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses in Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the traditional Korean Hanok houses in Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the traditional Korean Hanok houses in Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Walking along the stone walls at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Walking along the stone walls at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the interior in one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the interior in one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the interior in one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the interior in one of the traditional Korean Hanok houses at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Jangdokdae pots at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Jangdokdae pots at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Traditional medicine displayed at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Traditional medicine displayed at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Food display for a traditional ceremony at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

Food display for a traditional ceremony at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the Cheonugak Pavilion and the pond at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A peek of the Cheonugak Pavilion and the pond at Namsangol Traditional Village in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

 

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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in SOUTH KOREA

 

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Cape Zanpa 残波岬 – Okinawa, Japan

I love lighthouses! In some of our travels, we were fortunate to be able to visit some like the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse at Fort Michilimackinac in Michigan , the Sullivan Island Lighthouse in Charleston, South Carolina, spotted the Naha Harbour Lighthouse during our whale watching here in Okinawa, and my favorite lighthouse to date, the fascinating Cape Lookout Lighthouse in Southern Outer Banks in North Carolina, which took us an hour drive plus a boat ride to marvel at its beauty.

And roughly a week ago, after some insisting to go out on a beautiful sunny spring day, hubby brought me to Cape Zanpa in Yomitan to see the Cape Zanpa Lighthouse. It was under construction and no climb to the lighthouse was allowed which was to my dismay. The lighthouse itself was not very impressive but it has its own beauty in simple white hue surrounded by what looked like a marvelous formation of volcanic rocks. It is best admired when viewed close to the cliff showing color contrasts between the Okinawan blue sky and clear turquoise water and the picturesque landscape. Hubby thought he was brought back to Scotland with the wonderful experience.

Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan. The statue on the right is Taiki, the first man from Okinawa to be sent to China to establish a tribute trade.

Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan. The statue on the right is Taiki, the first man from Okinawa to be sent to China to establish a tribute trade.

The marvelous formation of volcanic rocks surrounding Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The marvelous formation of volcanic rocks surrounding Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The beautiful Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

A monument and a fort at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

A monument and a fort at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The picturesque cliff at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The picturesque cliff at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

Cape Zanpa Lighthouse in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

 

One feature of Cape Zanpa is the Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza with shops, restaurants, a playround and a petting zoo with a giant Shisa guarding the plaza’s entrance. The shore is also worth a walk when the tide is low. Cape Zanpa is must see when you are in Okinawa. It is now one of my favorites with its scenic beauty leaving an unforgettable imprint in my memory forgetting that Cape Zanpa is well known as a suicide cliff in Okinawa.

The giant Shisa guarding the entrance to Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

The giant Shisa guarding the entrance to Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan.

Cape Zanpa shore on a low tide.

Cape Zanpa shore on a low tide.

Another view of Cape Zanpa shore on a low tide.

Another view of Cape Zanpa shore on a low tide.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Okinawa

 

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Ocean Expo Park – Okinawa, Japan

Perhaps, everyone here and who had been in Okinawa, has at some point in their stay, visited the Ocean Expo Park. Who hasn’t? It is after all the most popular tourist destination in the island next to Shuri Castle. However, most of those who visit only have the Churaumi Aquarium in mind forgetting that it is a massive amusement park with featured facilities that require an entire day to explore. Spring is here and what better way to spend the days than having an adventure. If you are planning to visit or considering a re-visit, here is hoping this post will help.

The Central Gate and Fountain Square at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The Central Gate and Fountain Square at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

Flower Whale Shark at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

Flower Whale Shark at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

NATIVE OKINAWAN VILLAGE and OMORO ARBORETUM – A glimpse into the traditional design of an Okinawan village and the old way of life of the local.

Native Okinawan Village and Omoro Arboretum at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

Native Okinawan Village and Omoro Arboretum at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

A native Okinawan house featured at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

A native Okinawan house featured at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The kitchen of a native Okinawan house featured at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The kitchen of a native Okinawan house featured at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

CHURAUMI AQUARIUM – The most popular aquarium boosts an approximate land area of 10,000 m² with a building four-stories high. It proudly houses 77 exhibition tanks being the Kuroshio Sea tank as the main attraction having the volume capacity of 7,500 cubic meters containing three whale sharks and a group of manta rays. Read previous blog post HERE.

The Kuroshio Sea Tank is perhaps the main attraction at Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu District in Okinawa, Japan. It has a volume capacity of 7,500 cubic meters housing three whale sharks and a group of manta rays.

The Kuroshio Sea Tank is perhaps the main attraction at Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu District in Okinawa, Japan. It has a volume capacity of 7,500 cubic meters housing three whale sharks and a group of manta rays.

The three whale sharks inside the Kuroshio Sea Tank at Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu District in Okinawa, Japan.

The three whale sharks inside the Kuroshio Sea Tank at Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu District in Okinawa, Japan.

 

SEA TURTLE POOL –  Proudly housing 5 species of turtles out of the 7 (8?) species known in the world is the park Sea Turtle Pool. Hawksbill turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle, Green sea turtle, Kemp’s Ridley and the Black turtle can be viewed underwater from the underground viewing room. Admission here is free and enjoy guessing how old these turtles here! ;)

The turtle pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The turtle pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The turtle pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The turtle pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

MANATEE POOL – The manatees at the park are “goodwill ambassadors” from Mexico. They are mostly fed with lettuce and they are somehow creepy looking like they are staring at your every moment. Of course, they are smart mammals (or mermaids), what to expect?

The manatee inside its pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The manatee inside its pool viewed from the underground viewing room at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

TROPICAL DREAM CENTER – A wonderfully manicured 6-hectare garden of more than 2,000 orchids and polished beautifully with tropical and subtropical plants, Tropical Dream Center is a secret paradise overlooked by most visitors in the midst of Okinawa’s Ocean Park in Motobu Town It offers a self-guided tour with a choice of approximately 1 hour Standard Course and an approximately half-hour Short Course tour. Read previous blog HERE.

Tropical Dream Center 海洋博公園・熱帯ドリームセンター –at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan

Tropical Dream Center 海洋博公園・熱帯ドリームセンター –at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan

Tropical Dream Center 海洋博公園・熱帯ドリームセンター –at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan

Tropical Dream Center 海洋博公園・熱帯ドリームセンター –at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan

 

STEP FOUNTAIN –  A quite small garden with step fountain offering a panorama view of the park from the top. It is not well-maintained but the serenity is perfect.

The step fountain at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The step fountain at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

DOLPHIN LAGOON and DOLPHIN SHOW  – Perhaps most enjoyed by kids is the dolphin lagoon where they can see the smart dolphins up close and personal. A 20-minute live dolphin show, which is absolutely free, is also enjoyed by everyone at the Okichan Theater. Bottlenose dolphins, false killer whales and pacific white-sided dolphins are the stars in their water stage.

Most enjoyed by kids is the dolphin lagoon where they can see the smart dolphins up close and personal at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県 .

Most enjoyed by kids is the dolphin lagoon where they can see the smart dolphins up close and personal at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県 .

The dolphin lagoon and dolphin show at Okichan Theater at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The dolphin lagoon and dolphin show at Okichan Theater at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The dolphin lagoon and dolphin show at Okichan Theater at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

The dolphin lagoon and dolphin show at Okichan Theater at Ocean Expo Park in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan. 本部 朝基 , 沖縄県

 

Check on Google Street View below for an additional information and perspective :

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Okinawa

 

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Sakura 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 – Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa is like a box of chocolate – an island-paradise butterscotch, culture-rich truffle, warmhearted-community caramel and, for a limited time every year, a must-indulgence Cherry-Blossom loco dip – and you are certainly going to love what you are going to get!

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

SAKURA and NAKIJIN CASTLE 

Last year’s Cherry Blossom at Mt. Yaedake in Motubo , which was our first, was a blast. Ha, the joy of that wonderful memory. This year, hubby and I capped the season with a Sakura Festival at an illuminated Nakijin Castle. The experience was a delight. Not only is Nakijin Castle Ruins a designated national historic site and inscribed on the Register of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but for ONLY two weeks and two weeks ONLY during cherry blossom season every year, the site is open at night until 9 and a colorful display of attractive lights illuminate the treasured cultural property. 

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and the Nakijin Castle Wall 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and the Nakijin Castle Wall 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

With the Ryukyu King and Queen during the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

With the Ryukyu King and Queen during the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

Upon stepping inside the castle walls, full cherry blossoms tunnel the entrance leading the way to the top with pathways lit up with candles. It was my personal favorite moment.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in full at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in full at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in full at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in full at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

A pathway of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and candle lights at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

A pathway of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and candle lights at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

It was quite a climb to the top but who cares? It was pathway of sakura and candle lights to Okinawa heavens! 

A pathway of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and candle lights at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

A pathway of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 and candle lights at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

NAKIJIN CASTLE ILLUMINATION

At the top of the stairways is a marvelous panorama view of East China Sea with a stunning dusk lights in the background, making us wonder how this castle must be like in its hay days. The illuminated castle wall remains also adds charm to the scenery and although there are no cherry trees at the castle’s courtyards, the colorful lighting turns everything phenomenal.

Nakijin Castle Illumination 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Nakijin Castle Illumination 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Nakijin Castle Illumination 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Nakijin Castle Illumination 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Colorful lights illuminating the Nakijin Castle Courtyard 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Colorful lights illuminating the Nakijin Castle Courtyard 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Colorful lights illuminating the Nakijin Castle Courtyard 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

Colorful lights illuminating the Nakijin Castle Courtyard 今帰仁城 during a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

It was very crowded, which was not a surprise, but we managed to squeeze in some photos of ourselves together. After all, who else gets the chance to live this moment?

Witnessing a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Witnessing a Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

The magic does not end there. Cherry blossoms line up the road going down the hill as we drove back home. Now, that is a charmer!

 

A must-indulgence Cherry-Blossom loco dip, what’s in your box of chocolate?

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 line up the road going down the hill at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura) 桜 line up the road going down the hill at Nakijin Castle 今帰仁城 in Okinawa, Japan.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Okinawa

 

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Gion 祇園 – Kyoto, Japan

Geishas at Gion! 

Admittedly, when initially planning for our Kyoto trip, Gion District first came to mind because of geikos, or what we commonly know as geishas. Well, aren’t we all guilty? Of course, we all blame that to Hollywood, thanks to the huge success of the Memoirs. Intrigued and just plain curious about this famous and highly elegant district of Gion, hubby and I paraded every corner with high hopes (and desperation) of meeting a real geiko or maiko along our wayApparently, we were not alone. We have the entire flock of tourists unanimously looking for one. We tourists were just being, oh well, tourists.

HANAMI-KOJI  (花見小路)

The main street of Gion is Hanami-koji, world famous for its Kyoto style houses which are also very established restaurants, tea houses and hotels. We had dinner in one of these restaurants and boy, it was NOT at all cheap.

Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District, world famous for its Kyoto style houses.

Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District, world famous for its Kyoto style houses.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses around Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses around Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses which now serves as restaurants around Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses which now serves as restaurants around Hanami-koji 花見小路, the main street of Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

 

SHINBASHI DORI (新橋通)

The Gion Shinbashi area began as a traditional tea house and entertainment district but is now at present filled with shops that specialize in high quality art and antiques. It is a beautiful cobble-stoned Shinbashi Street, which runs along the cherry tree-lined Shirakawa river.

The famous Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

The famous Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

The famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

The famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Shirakawa River 白川 at Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Shirakawa River 白川 at Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Japanese women in kimono at the famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Japanese women in kimono at the famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses at the famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the traditional Kyoto houses at the famous cobbled-street Shinabashidori (新橋通) in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

 

ISSEN YOSHOKU 

Issen Yoshoku is both the name of the dish and the name of the restaurant in one corner of Gion District. The dish is a wheat flour based batter with chopped scallions, egg and thinly sliced pork, cooked and folded and served with sauce. It is quite famous especially among the locals because it is said that the owner of the restaurant, Tatsuo Kinoshita, who started it about 30 years ago, wanted to serve the original Western food in Japan which during the Taisho Period (early 1900′s) would cost only about 1 US cent. Also, the symbol of this restaurant is very interesting.

The symbol of Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

The symbol of Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Issen Yoshoku 壹銭洋食 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

 

MINAMI-ZA (南座) 

The only remaining Kabuki Theatre in Kyoto out of the seven officially licensed is the Minami-za. This theatre was built in 1929 and was registered as a Japanese Tangible Cultural Property in 1996.

Minamiza 南座 , the only remaining Kabuki Theatre out of the seven officially licensed in Kyoto, Japan.

Minamiza 南座 , the only remaining Kabuki Theatre out of the seven officially licensed in Kyoto, Japan.

 

PONTOCHO (先斗町)

Another famous must-visit place in Kyoto is the Pontocho. It is a very narrow alley that runs from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori and just west of the Kamo River. It has probably the most dining options in all of Kyoto which requires a fat wallet, otherwise it is simply a must-see for its traditional architecture.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

Pontocho 先斗町 in Gion District in Kyoto, Japan.

 

KAMO RIVER 鴨川 and SHIJO OHASHI 日本語

The Kamo River flows through the city of Kyoto from north to south. It looks really clean and certainly most romantic at night especially with the beautifully-lit restaurants on the river side and when viewed over at Shijo Ohashi.

The beautiful Kamo River 鴨川 lined with romantically-lit restaurants viewed over at  Shijo Ohashi 日本語 in Kyoto, Japan.

The beautiful Kamo River 鴨川 lined with romantically-lit restaurants viewed over at Shijo Ohashi 日本語 in Kyoto, Japan.

 

We were not very lucky to see a geisha or a maiko. However, we sure were a witness to the captivating beauty and high sophistication of Gion – Japan’s prime geisha district and Kyōto’s most famous (and best preserved) traditional neighborhood. There was an option to dress up like one (some shops offer rental and make up services) but nah, I will leave that adventure until next time. Maybe.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Kyoto

 

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Crispy Oven Broiled Liempo

Crispy Oven Broiled Liempo

Crispy Oven Broiled Liempo

 

Crispy Oven Broiled Liempo (Original recipe from Panlasang Pinoy)

1. Boil water and let it steam. I used a rice cooker and it worked perfect.
2. Arrange the pork belly in the steamer, cover and steam for 40 minutes.
3. Remove the pork belly from the steamer and let it cool.
4. Rub salt and pepper all over the steamed pork belly.
5. Set the oven to broil mode and preheat to 510 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Arrange the pork belly in a greased oven safe tray or plate and broil for 15 to 17 minutes.
7. Flip the pork belly so that the opposite side will be facing up. Continue to broil for another 12 to 15 minutes or until texture starts to get crispy.
8. Chop the broiled pork belly the way you prefer. Ready to serve.

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in FOODIES

 

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Okinawa World – Okinawa, Japan

One of my favorite trips in Okinawa is the visit to the Valley of Gangala. It caught quite a stir among my friends because of a, for lack of a better word, “unique rock formation”. However, just right across the valley is the famous Okinawa World, a theme park that features things local. It is equally worth the visit and equally my favorite as well, taking pride in its Habu Park, a small village and shops reminiscent of the old Okinawa, and the Gyokusendyo Cave.

Okinawa World - Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa World – Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa World - Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa World – Okinawa, Japan

The small village reminiscent of the old Okinawa at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The small village reminiscent of the old Okinawa at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The Habu Sake Factory at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The Habu Sake Factory at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The Habu Sake Factory and Souvenir Shop at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The Habu Sake Factory and Souvenir Shop at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

The theme park’s main attraction and unbelievably an amazing work of nature is the Gyokusendo. It is a 5000 meter long cave that was formed approximately 300,000 years ago. It is well and beautifully lit with pathways over a river that flows continuously.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

Gyokusendyo Cave at Okinawa World in Okinawa, Japan.

 

Take Highway 58 into Naha City and then take Highway 329 going east. Next, go south on Highway 507 and then turn onto Highway 131.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Okinawa

 

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