Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium 沖縄美ら海水族館

The week before my last in Japan, I and six friends visited Okinawa. In our few days there we took a bus tour, which allowed us to see quite a bit. Here I am, beginning to write about it months after the fact. To add to your readerly frustration, I say to my non-existent audience, I will tell my tale of Okinawa out of order.

I begin the tale at a stop on our bus tour: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu, Okinawa. It is the second largest aquarium in the WORLD. And I did not enter it.
This is not a great picture...
This dolphin is pretty sweet though.
No, I found myself suddenly fretting about the costs of omiyage and the like, and having pulled out a sum of money which I told myself would last until the day I left Japan, I decided to relinquish my ticket (which was only 2000 yen, but you know how crushing sudden money panic can be). While my friends slipped through the automatic doors and into to a land of marine wonders, I decided to explore the periphery. Luckily for me, and the other cheap-o's of the world, there is more than enough to explore in the time constraints leveled by a bus tour. There is much besides the Aquarium, which is just one part of the Ocean Expo Commemorative National Government Park in which it is located.

For one, the awesome topiary displays will keep you occupied for a good while...

As well as a recreation of native Okinawan homes. Or actually, if I remember correctly at least a couple of the homes which they have there are actual homes, and not fabrications... I may be wrong, though. Still, in the blazing sun I quickly retreated to these shaded areas to wander amongst the trees and homes. I didn't take too many pictures of the houses, though, because in one I spotted some women sitting there with electric fans blowing over them, just hanging out; and I suddenly had this whoa, whoa, did I wander into some place that I'm not supposed to be? kind of feeling. ¨Is this home lived in

Of course I'm fairly certain you could just wander anywhere, and I was totally just having some flash of "gaijin-must-not-be-able-to-properly-read-Japanese-I'm-sure-that-sign-said-NO-TRESPASSING-and-I-just-thought-it-was-an-educational-plaque" panic, but I quickly wandered back out of there...

 I wish I could remember exactly what the plaque there said... Either this was
a place to gather drinking water, or had some religious significance. Perhaps both?

You could enter into house yards like this one. I think I took this picture
after I was spooked out of one yard. Yes, safest outside the fence...
Yeah, the light was pretty much just like this.
Tropical dream.

I walked the trails, which had signposts to various sea vistas. I visited several of them. I saw many flowers and crushed through a curious and inexplicable swath of centipedes which laid inches thick across one section of the path, and whose crispy exoskeletons I mistook for crispy leaves. The horror of my destruction of them was only slightly tempered by my bewilderment and morbid interest. I took pictures.

Why were they there? I feel like I destroyed what was perhaps a busy 
centipedian metropolis...

I tried to take a panorama shot with my keitai.

 It is hard, even with the guides. Or, I am mildly technologically impaired. 

I found a beautiful beach, and right beside that beautiful beach was a beautiful, empty PLAYGROUND. I was so unhappy to be alone with this beautiful playground. If I was with someone I would have been all over that beautiful playground. But because I was embarrassed to be a child alone on that beautiful playground, I paused only for a picture, which offers but a fraction of the fun of that beautiful playground, and continued down to the beach. (I also vaguely remember a sign asking adults not to play in it. Or I imagined it as a way to cope with my decision to slink away from that beautiful playground like the weak, soulless adult that I am.)

 AQUATOWN! How I regret not visiting your azure slides...

I had much fun at the beach, to make up for my skipping of fun at Aquatown, the beautiful playground. The beach itself was craggy and dark with rocks. The sea was a deep and dazzling blue. The sky at its distant horizon was perhaps comparable to the Periwinkle Blue crayon that all of the girls in fourth grade were in love with. I climbed rocks, jumped about like an idiot, peered into tidal pools, and stared over the waves and to the horizon. 
 Further down on the beach


Click these to make them bigger.

 You can see a bit of the rocks here. They were really beautiful. 
If all you saw was the rock and my hand, would you
think I was petting an elephant?

 I was excited to see a pufferfish, even if he was far past 
his last puff. 

I imagine, being called 夕陽の広場, that it looks best at sunset. 

There is quite a lot to see, and not just outside. There are gift shops and various museums, as well as an Arboretum. If you have some marine-life-loving friends but you yourself are more of a landlubber, don't decide to sit the Churaumi Aquarium out. There's a lot for the likes of you there as well. Highly recommended for a visit!

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to be able to see this. I had been wondering what you did while we were in the aquarium. Glad to see you got some exploring done and had a pretty good time. :)

    Missin' you~ <3