Ok, my four loyal blog readers, as promised I have pictures from the "Tour of the North" that Lee and I went on yesterday. I have a bunch of pictures so I'm going to string this out over several days so you'll just have to keep checking back :)
First off, we visited the Nakijin Castle ruins. Okinawa was once divided into three small kingdoms, Hokuzan (northern), Chuzan (central), and Nanzan (southern). Nakijin was the capital of the Hokuzan kingdom, which was the largest of the three but also the most sparsely populated. Chuzan's capital was Shuri and if you go back in my posts you'll see pictures from there, too. Chuzan, the most prosperous of the three, eventually conquered Hokuzan and Nanzan, thus uniting all of Okinawa.
Enough history, now on with the pictures! This first one is a neat-looking pillar at the entrance to the castle ruins. Not a clue what it says on there :) Yesterday was my turn to play with the big fancy camera but I've figured out I have a long way to go before I can take some really stellar shots. Well, I suppose some of these are serviceable but I digress!
Next up is the entrance to the ruins. This is called the Heirojo Gate and was restored in 1962. It has alcoves to either side of it that have tiny windows in the thick walls; that was for guards to shoot arrows at you if they didn't like you. Yeah, I took this one kind of off-center because I was trying to be artsy. Maybe I should give up the artsy.
Once you enter the gate, you'll go up a long stone path with quite a bit of plant life to either side. Lee and I thought these 4-foot-tall palm trees looked kind of funny, I told him they're bonsai palms.
Here's the pathway. The stones are kinda-sorta flat on top, but not really. There were steep stairways to either side of the entrance gate that you could go up and get a good view of the surrounding countryside. Lee remarked that the stairs were awfully tall for such relatively small people...we practically needed mountain-climbing equipment to get up there.
I took this picture in a kind of courtyard area...I can't tell you exactly what the area was for as the guide materials are a little sketchy. Anyway, they have a lot of these trees with the roots that snake along the ground rather than under it. You really have to watch your step here.
This picture was taken from the top of the hill, and if I'm reading the map right, it's the Shijimajokaku Ward area, where the king's most important subjects lived. It's either that or the field where they trained the war horses :) We had great weather yesterday as far as temperature goes, it was cooler and not nearly as humid as when we hiked to Hiji Falls. The down side is it kept sprinkling on us so we didn't get as many pictures as we might have liked.
This one's for you, Liz--orange flowers! These were up near the Nakijin museum where they display the artifacts unearthed from the castle ruins.
By the time we got to the museum we were running out of time so we didn't take any pictures in there. They've recovered quite a bit of Chinese-style pottery and coins (Okinawa paid tribute to China and had a close trade relationship with them for centuries). According to the pamphlet we were given, Nakijin Castle was burned to the ground in the early 1600s, but it doesn't say if they rebuilt it after that and it subsequently fell into ruin or what.
So there's Part 1 of the tour of the north. Check back later for Part 2...either tonight or tomorrow morning. I've got lots more pictures to share including a lot from the glass factory that are really pretty!
3 hours ago