OKINAWA TRIP 15: NAKIJIN CASTLE
By Jenifer Tull-Gauger
Nakijin Castle was to be our northernmost Okinawa destination. As we got close, we stopped in a convenience store to buy our lunch. Once again, as in several other stores, the bento box-type perishable foods were displayed at room temperature. This included all types of meat, pasta salad, rice, goya chample, eggs, and sushi rolls with rice and veggies. At least they refrigerated the sushi with raw fish. Tags showed that things were mostly made around 6:30 am. We usually bought food between 10 am and noon. I usually went with vegetarian options. We ate in an air conditioned rest area at Nakijin.
As we walked to the castle, we saw maintenance workers mowing, weed-eating, trimming and pulling weeds. Kaicho talked to the group up ahead while I paused to take pictures. Nakijin Castle is big, and there are also a lot of plaques telling about the castle’s features and history, as well as about the native plants. This is the Kouri, or Fui shrine.
Here is the tall outside wall of Nakijin Castle. And our group on the modern steps leading to the castle’s high point.
Bender Sensei made a new friend. This was one of the biggest praying mantises I have seen.
It was HOT and HUMID on our Nakijin Castle visit! David said the heat index was 108 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m sure it was. In that type of humidity, any time I exerted myself, especially in the hot time of day, my breathing got shallow and labored. And for me the hot time of the day included from about 9:30 am until dusk. Everyone else moved quickly through the grounds, while I constantly lagged behind taking pictures of the surroundings and of the plaques.
When I was a little more than halfway done going through the Nakijin Castle layout, the rest of the group said they were going to the air-conditioned museum near the rest area. I continued finding and photographing the out-of-the-way plaques about the castle and the plants.
Here is a well, and a tree. The plaque reads, “Called ‘kuwa-disa’ in Okinawa Hogen. Its nuts are like almonds. People greatly appreciate its ample shade.” I appreciated every little bit of shade the trees provided at Nakijin Castle.
I liked the Wind Bell Hibiscus flower. I have never seen anything like it. Commonly called ‘aka-bana’ (red flower), the hibiscus is the Nakijin Village flower.
These show the area near the entrance of Nakijin Castle.
I thought I was finishing my trek, when I saw a plaque off to one side about the shrine of the priestess. I went in that direction, down a trail into the forest to see it and get pics. Nobody else was down there. There had been several other tourists in the other parts of Nakijin Castle. That’s in addition to our group. These pictures document what I found:
The path continued past the shrine, and I went to see the marker in the middle of it:
I kept going, deeper into the forest on the trail.
At this point, I decided it was wise to go back, I was SO hot (even though the sun was not high in the sky and an awesome wind had picked up). Also, I was very thirsty. I zoomed in and took one last pic of the path before I returned to the Nakijin Castle rest area and museum.
Here’s a model of Nakijin Castle and how to make a Torii Gate.
I bought a refreshing cold tea from a stand by the rest area. I met up with the group in the nice, cool museum, and we departed from Nakijin Castle. We drove through an area that looked like our American “old fashioned downtown Main Street.” The neat thing was every street post in this area by the sidewalk and street had a line of flower pots mounted all the way down it (center photo).