FC Ryukyu Match at Tapic Kenso Hiyagon Stadium

I love soccer, playing and watching. I have a lot of die-hard Timbers fans back home and my social media is always full of pictures on match days. I haven’t been to a live soccer game in forever, so when I found out Okinawa has a team I knew we had to go. I absolutely love going to any kind of semi-professional or professional sports games. The energy of the crowd is always so contagious and I’m already an excitable fan so it’s even more fun in a crowd.

I knew parking was going to be a chore so we got to Comprehensive Park an hour before match time. It was awful! Comprehensive Park is huge and full of a ton of athletic fields, playgrounds, a campground…like so much stuff packed into one huge park. Add on the soccer match, it was hectic. We got lucky and scored an actual parking stall in one of the lots and the walk to Tapic Kenso Hiyagon Stadium wasn’t too bad.

We were able to buy tickets at the stadium and there were a dozen or so vendors with food, drinks, and fan gear. I wanted a jersey, but we weren’t sure if they took card and Cass said, “We don’t have jersey kind of cash today.” Boo. The unassigned seats (aka cheap seats) are on the back side of the stadium so we made our way around. The stands on the side were packed so we had to sit behind the goal…which was fine. But we definitely want to sit on the side next time so we’ll definitely have to arrive much earlier.

Sidenote: Kids are free!

At first the sun was out in full force and had us melting in our seats. But the clouds rolled in and it was actually pleasant. But at the end of the match, it started POURING. We stuck it out until the time ran out and the players came over for their bows.

I was slightly worried some of the experience would be diminished since we don’t understand Japanese, but nope! The only thing we couldn’t figure out was what the chants and songs were.

Next time, we’re either going to arrive super early when the gates open or catch a cab to the stadium because the stress of trying to find parking was too much. They had a band in the stadium during the pregame so we could stake out seats, grab food, enjoy the entertainment, and just chill before kickoff.

Tedako Festival 2019 | Urasoe, Okinawa

We almost always use Kadena’s ITT for festivals because we hate dealing with parking and traffic. We happily pay the bus fee to avoid the hassle. The Tedako Festival was described as a country fair, which is partly true, but it’s also a celebration of Urasoe and its beloved King Eiso. His honorific name is Tedako which means “Son of the Sun”.

To be honest, we almost ate the cost of the tour and blew it off because it had been raining on and off all day and the forecast had a couple thunderstorms predicted for the time we’d be at the festival. We went back and forth and made the decision to go at the last minute. I’m so glad we did! It was such a fun night and it ended up being a perfect night for it.

There were stalls lining the path that wraps around the stadium as well as in the parking structure. The vendors sold food, beer, shave ice, ice cream, cotton candy, toys, masks, and light up everything. There were carnival games, a few rides, and a small haunted house that every single group came sprinting out of screaming at the top of their lungs.

From what we were told, this is one of the last festivals to wear a yukata at. Yukatas are lightweight and made of cotton while kimonos are heavier because they’re made of silk. I loved seeing all the varieties of prints everywhere we went.

We thought about sitting down on the tarps on the grass, but they were wet so we went up to the stadium seating. It was a lot farther away, but we still had a great view of the performances. There were bands, eisa dancers, taiko drums, martial artists, historical reenactments, and dancers. Some of the performances were modern, some were traditional, and some were a mix of both. It was so much fun seeing the variety! They closed out the night with a big fireworks show.

We definitely want to go back again next year. Next time we’ll bring our vinyl bottomed picnic blanket and sit down below to get a close up view of all the festivities. Since the vendors used the parking structure, there is no provided parking so we’ll definitely be utilizing ITT again.

Okinawa Island Hopping

We’ve been on Okinawa for almost a year now and we haven’t explored nearly as much as we normally would. The main reason is Cass was selected for promotion so he has a lot more responsibility at work and we’ve been more focused on that than anything else.

But I don’t work and I’ve been itching to get out more. I really need to work on my driving skills so I can take the car and go on my own. I just get too in my head about driving on the left side of the road and I start getting anxiety; so for now my adventures are limited to Cass’s days off.

During the long 96 weekend, we decided to get out. We pointed ourselves toward Ikei Island and stopped at anything that caught our attention on the map.

Our first stop was Churatokaido Information Center (美ら島海道案内所)

We grabbed onigiri from Family Mart on our way out so we sat next to the water and ate our lunch. Next time, we definitely want to try out the food stands. If you’re on Instagram, you know how popular BEAPA is with their swings overlooking the water.

Next we visited Nuchi-masu Salt Factory

This was a quick visit because it’s not big at all. There are few viewing windows with info placards in Japanese. I used Google Translate to read them and the translation was good enough to get a decent idea of the process. Everyone who worked there was so incredibly nice and made sure we got general info sheets and uses for the salt in English.

We hit up the gift shop and grabbed a couple salt bath bombs to try out and some bottles of salt. Their salt is supposed to taste different because of all the minerals in it and they boast that their salt is healthier for you because there’s less sodium chloride in it. The info sheet has a lot of science-y stuff on it with tests and graphs and things I don’t really fully understand because I’m terrible at science.

We got to Ikei Island, but there wasn’t much for us to do but do a quick drive around the island. We didn’t want to lie on the beach, we didn’t want to stay at the resort, and we didn’t want to go fishing or diving. So we headed back.

Our next stop was a sacred site on the side of Prefectural Road 10.

I wasn’t going to go up to the shrine (or whatever it was) because I know some of those places are only for those who worship there or for locals to visit. Instead I took pictures from the road next to some fishermen. They had set up their rods in the rocks and had a nice little hang out spot in a van to wait for the fish to bite.

There was also a ice cream van set up right in front of the sacred site marker. While I took pictures, I sent Cass to grab a cone for me. The man running the van insisted we go up to the rock and take pictures from up there. He came out and pointed at the path. I wasn’t going to tell him no, so we went up.

At this point we simply drove back to the main island of Okinawa. I love that we can drive to these little islands and explore. We definitely want to make more drives like this soon.