Misato Park | Okinawa City

Cass and I felt like getting out of the house. We didn’t want to go too far because it was getting dark so we ended up at Misato Park in Okinawa City.

Misato ParkMisato Park

It’s a little, but busy park. There are multiple play structures (which we stayed off of because the runners would curiously watch us as they passed by and I wasn’t trying to look like an idiot in front of an audience), a small skate park, a full basketball court (one side was missing a rim though), a big grassy area, a very well-used walking/running path around the perimeter, nice looking bathrooms, vending machines, and small parking lot.

Misato ParkMisato ParkMisato Park

Since it had just stormed earlier in the day, there were no kids playing. But there were lots of walkers and runners. There aren’t a lot of benches though, but there are some covered sitting areas.

Misato Park

We almost brought Gambit, but I’m glad we didn’t because he would’ve been in the way of the runners and there was only one other path straight through the middle of the park that he could’ve walked on. I also saw signs saying to take pet feces home to dispose of. They do a lot of trash sorting so I guess that’s why.

Misato Park

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Kuwae Park | Chatan-chō

cherry blossoms

I heard through Facebook that there were cherry blossoms at Kuwae Park in Chatan so I had to check it out. The rumors were right! There were some blooms! But not a lot. But lots of buds so maybe soon! But maybe not because the storms have been making the temperatures go up and down and the rain has been really intense some days. So the poor flowers don’t stand much of a chance and the blooms aren’t happening all at once.

cherry blossomscherry blossoms

Cass and I decided to wander down random paths and we were pleasantly surprised. There were lots of winding paths, stairways, and features all over. Whoever designed the park did a really good job because they packed a lot in there for such a small space, but it doesn’t feel packed in.

Kuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae ParkKuwae Park

I’m terrified of snakes, so I always balk when I see those snake awareness signs. All the trees and bushes and flowers were so pretty, but I was so paranoid in the heavily vegetated areas. I swear the trees were extra creaky and the wind was extra rustly when we walked through those areas.

Kuwae Park
Kuwae Park

This is a great park to walk and wander. Paths led through and around the park so you’d really get a nice run in here, especially with the inclines and stairs. There’s also a lot of benches and shade so this is also a great park if you want to just relax and people watch or take in the scenery. The parking was tricky. Technically we parked in the adjoining community center lot. But it was midday on a weekday so it wasn’t full and no one cared. There was some street parking on a super narrow street with room for maybe 4 cars.

Kuwae Park

There’s also some extensive construction going on in the park. It’s contained to one area, so you can easily avoid it or get away from it and still enjoy the park.

It would be a great park to take Lexi & Gambit for walks. There are lots of signs (in English) reminding dog owners to pick up after their dogs and to keep them on their leash. We always pick up after our dogs and are too paranoid to let them off leash in non-dog parks so that’s not a problem for us.

Kuwae ParkKuwae Park

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Lucky Bags | Fukubukuro | 福袋

Lucky bags or fukubukuro (福袋) is a New Years tradition in Japan. It’s a grab bag businesses will put out for a huge discount. It’s a way for businesses to clear out their shelves for new inventory and for customers to get great deals. You’re not supposed to look in the bags, but I saw a lot of people (both US and Japanese) peaking in or digging around.

2019 lucky bag

I remember seeing these bags at Sanrio stores in Hawaii, but it wasn’t a thing. We got up late on New Years and were super lazy, but we decided to wander over to the Aeon in American Village to see if we could find any good lucky bags.

When we first walked in, I was tempted to snatch every bag I saw. But then I saw a Starbucks and I had been wanting to try the limited edition Black Sesame Frappuccino so Cass and I got one to share. I really liked it! Cass didn’t care for it.

Cass and I did a lap of the first floor and I decided to go with a range of bags. First I got one of the bags from the beauty/skincare section. To be honest, I chose it based on the cuteness of the bag. I didn’t look into the brand…I probably should have, but it’s too late now.

2019 lucky bag

I haven’t tested any of it out yet. I’m making my way through some Tatcha products for the first time so I want to finish those out before trying something new.

Next, we got a bag from a section that looked like household cleaners and such. We kind of blindly chose that one. I didn’t realize until after we paid that the back of the bag was see through. But that’s okay, we specifically wanted bags that were a true blind grab bag.

2019 lucky bag

I tried out the detergent on our sheets and I liked it! The scent was on the floral side, but not overly done. I don’t think Cass even noticed a difference.

The last bag we got from Village Vanguard. I had seen some of the unbagging pictures on some Facebook groups so I knew it was really hit or miss. They were color coded by category, but there were no descriptions in English. Some people said the Rycom Aeon had English signs and some people said they just asked at the checkout counter. I left Cass to pick while I walked through Daiso.

2019 lucky bag

We put the pillow on the couch and the dogs use it every once in awhile as a head rest. We put the towel on the front door so we can wipe their paws after rainy walks. Everything else is going to our nieces and nephews.

Our strategy next year will to go more practical. As fun as the Village Vanguard bag was to open, the other bags had things we’d actually use. If we do go with something more fun next year, it’ll be from the Studio Ghibli store or Sanrio. Maybe we’ll go to Rycom Aeon or to Naha for more of a variety. Or maybe we’ll skip it altogether and save the money on something we know what we’re getting.

Okinawa Zoo Lights – Snow & Light Winter Story

zoo lights bokeh

As soon as ITT announced zoo lights tickets, I sent Cass to pick a pair up. I didn’t go to the zoo lights when I was in Oregon and I wish I did. But I also hate crowds and driving at night so…I guess I don’t regret that decision.

food stands

If you like light tunnels, you need to check out the Okinawa Zoo Lights. Tunnels over stairs, a Christmas themed tunnel, a snowflake themed tunnel, a heart tunnel…so many tunnels!

Christmas tree of lights

There were also so many interactive displays and lots of fun things for the kids. There was even a snow play area! We timed our visit perfectly so that by the time we were done walking through the zoo we were just in time for the laser light show. Purely coincidental!

Okinawa Zoo LightsOkinawa Zoo Lights

It was a windy night so the fog machines weren’t very effective, but it was still a really cool show. I thought the fireworks were only for Christmas and New Years so it was a surprise when they shot off. I also didn’t know there was a water cannon element…which was fun and all, but it sucked when the mist rained down on the crowd. It was too cold for that.

laser light showlaser light show

Next year we’ll have to go during Christmas week to see the Christmas Fantasy lights. I’m guessing the displays stay the same and the light show and other entertainment changes.

Okinawa Grand Sumo Tournament 2018

Okinawa Sumo Tournament

I grew up watching Akebono, Konishiki, Takanohana, Wakanohana, and Musashimaru so I knew we had to go see the Grand Sumo Tournament at the Okinawa Convention Center. I’m pretty sure everyone from Hawaii knows who Akebono, Konishiki, and Musashimaru are. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole even performed a song about them!

sumo warm ups

We got there soon after the doors opened. The wrestlers were on the floor stretching and doing some drills. At first, the guys stuck to the ring or the pathways leading up to it. But after they did some practice rounds, they started wandering around the venue. They took pictures and chatted with fans or just hung out and talked among themselves.

Ginowan Seaside ParkGinowan Seaside ParkGinowan Seaside ParkGinowan Seaside Park

Because of Cass’s work schedule, we didn’t get much sleep and had to wake up early to get to the venue. We were getting sleepy so skipped some of the demonstrations and took a walk through Ginowan Seaside Park. We ended up at Tropical Beach with some gorgeous ocean views.

Tropical Beach

We came across wrestlers all over the park and at the beach relaxing or stretching their legs. A couple of them were singing and they sounded really good! We found out later that they were practicing for their performance before the tournament kicked off.

Okinawa sumo tournament

There was a mochi pounding so we got in line to get some for free. I don’t know how other people eat it, but my mom always ate it with shoyu and sugar. They had another topping we didn’t recognize, but we tried it anyway. It was like a slightly sweet powdered graham cracker. Confession: I never liked mochi. But the last time I had it was when I really young so I thought maybe I’d like it now. Not so much. It’s a texture thing.

Okinawa sumo tournament

I had so much fun watching the bouts. It was an informal event so the wrestlers were still out and about. Some of them went straight from the ring to stand behind the back seats on the floor to watch. Most of them happily took pictures and signed autographs. They were immediately mobbed though. People were flat out running up to them.

Okinawa sumo tournament

What was most interesting was the evolution of the sport from when I watched in the early 90s to now. My aunty and I had a conversation about how back then it was all about brute strength and size. The biggest guys still made it to the end, but it wasn’t a given that the big guy beat the little guy. During the preliminary rounds, everyone chuckled when a shorter, skinnier guy went up against a much larger opponent. There was a loud gasp when the smaller wrestler dodged around, strategically pushing his opponent off balance and out of the ring. We knew he had a chance, they all do, but the speed at which he won was shocking.

If you ever get a chance to see sumo in person, do it! We loved it!


Want more? Check out my vlog from the day!