Okinawa is known for its plethora of flower festivals in the first half of the year. It seems odd to be frolicking in blooming fields and strolling among blossoming trees in January and February, but that’s what I’ve been doing lately!
Now, don’t let these pictures fool you completely. It is mostly gray, dank, and dreary in Oki this time of year. But when the sun shines, it’s beautiful. And even though the 60-degree temps feel cold to me, I know that’s incredibly moderate for winter in the rest of the world. First, Chuck and I visited the cosmos flower fields in Nakagusuku’s Asato district. More than 100,000 cosmos are in bloom on a restored slope that was destroyed by a landslide in 2006. Residents replanted a 12,000 square meters area with the flowers last October. They were so pretty, and smelled delicious!
Our second and third excursions were to see the cherry blossoms on Mt. Yaedake and at the Nakijin Castle Ruins. Cherry blossoms are different on Okinawa than the ones on mainland Japan (and the ones in Washington, DC.) They blossoms are a deeper shade of pink, and they don’t flutter gracefully – petal by petal – when they begin to wilt. The entire bloom just gets heavy and sort of… plops. I definitely prefer the DC and mainland Japan versions, with their soft romanticism and whimsy. But that doesn’t mean these weren’t gorgeous as well! I particularly enjoyed the scenery at Nakijin Castle. I love Okinawa ruins, and the views that often accompany them.
One other fun perk of Nakijin Castle was the presence of shops, cafes, and ICE CREAM booths! My friends and I sampled the trademark sakura flavor… cherry blossom! I’m looking forward to the lily, sunflower, and azalea festivals later this month and into the spring. Bring on the flowers!