Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ishigakijima to Taketomijima!

We're Back!!! And we have about 5000 pictures to post!! Just so you know, I am putting them up a bit backwards. I still have a ton of Cherry Blossoms shots to show you all, but right now I am too excited from our trip to Ishigaki. Therefore, those pictures are going up first. But then I promise....Cherry Blossoms!!

Ok, so for those of you who don't know, Ishigakijima is part of the Okinawa prefecture in Japan. The southern most group of Japanese islands are the Yaeyama Islands, which is where we went. Basically, we flew south into Okinawa city, and then took another plane an hour further south. We stayed on Ishigakijima, but through the week travelled to 2 other islands: Taketomijima and Iriomotejima. Though we didn't have the most perfect weather, our week was still AMAZING, and left both of us wanting to 'miss' our flight back to the mainland!

The trip is going to take a few posts to show you everything, so keep checking over the next few days and I will try to get them all up as quickly as possible! Ian promises, hands down, some of the best video footage to date!

Ok...so right from the start our trip was highly entertaining. After landing at Ishigaki airport, we hopped in a cab to take us to our hotel. Now, this might not seem like the most interesting thing, but even the cab drivers were different!! In Nagoya, the cab drivers all wear suits and white gloves and caps. When they have no customers you can often see them standing beside their car and polishing it up with a cloth....very very formal.
Not so in Ishigaki. We got into the cab, and right away the driver started trying to talk to us. Of course it was all in Japanese, and though we understood a good portion, we didn't always know how to respond! So we had a bit of a conversation and he told us a bit about the island. After a few minutes we came to a stop at some lights. Then, quite unexpectedly, the driver says..."ok, now I will play" and pulls out a Shamisen (traditional Japanese 3-stringed instrument)!!! So he's sitting at the lights just singing and playing and Ian and I are in the back trying soooo hard not to burst out laughing! It was a perfect way to start the trip. When we arrived at the hotel the driver gave us his business card, and 'I believe' tried to tell us to call if we wanted a tour around the island!
Ok, moving along. That night we wandered into a soba (Japanese noodle) restaurant that was offering 'Ishigaki beef', and apart from it actually being a cool little spot, the food was AMAZING. Now I know you don't all know this, but I have been having a bit of a difficult time with the food here. Since I don't really do the seafood thing, that limits me alot. But to top that off, I really don't find the meat too enjoyable here either. I know, I am a picky eater, but I can't do the grizzle and fat thing, so it ends up being a bit of an ordeal when it comes time for me to order.
On the other hand, food was a bit of an issue in Ishigaki, but that was because there was TOOOO much good stuff!!!! Ahhh....I miss it already! And Cheap!!! Sooo much cheaper!!
There was only ONE point in our trip, on the first night, where I hit a bit of a snag with regards to the food. After eating dinner and wandering a bit more, Ian and I decided that we would go somewhere for a drink. Before we left Ichinomiya, (our home), we were told of 3 things we had to try in Okinawa: Mimiga (pigs ear), Goya (A reeeeally strange veggie), and Awamori (the special Okinawa alcohol).
So we found a little place that looked cool, went in, and realized we were the only ones there. We told the waiter that we wanted to try Awamori and he in turn showed us a list about a mile long. We had no idea what to order so we just said, one bottle please. He brings us out this bottle that is QUITE large, as well as a bucket of ice, 2 glasses, and a pitcher of water. Not knowing what to do, we had him explain. You fill the glass with ice, then put in about an inch worth of awamori, and fill it up with water.
Hmmmm....we started thinking, maybe this bottle thing was not such a good plan? At that rate it would take us forever to get through it!! So we began drinking, and the stuff was actually pretty nice. We decided to order some food along with it, me a Taco salad, and Ian some mimiga. However, when my 'taco' salad arrived, I was in a for a bit of a surprise! Apparently, when they said Taco (in Katakana I might add...which is USUALLY used for FOREIGN words) they meant Tako...as in , the Japanese word for Octopus........
Ian liked the salad!
Anyways, a bit later we realized how much the bottle was actually going to cost us, and decided we may as well get our moneys worth. We tried offering some to the staff, to help us out, but they declined. In the end, we made it through lets say "a very good chunk" (Ian impressively downing glasses of the drink between chopsticks full of Tako salad and pigs ear), and then decided it would be best to leave. As we were leaving they called out, holding up the bottle and then proceeded to put it in a bag for us....
Well sheesh...if they had told us we would be bringing the bottle HOME with us....that would have helped a lot!!!
Ian will narrate the remainder of the evening:
...Bought a glowing necklace from a man on the street with no fingers on one hand and two dogs at his feet. Another local stood there and attempted holding a conversation with me, which I imagine went just swimmingly...

Back to Tara:
Ok...what next. The next day we spent a good portion wandering around and then in the afternoon decided to catch a ferry to Taketomijima. We rented bikes and decided to bike around the tiny island. The place was AMAZING. Not only was it small and green, but the only town on the island is a little village with totally traditional housing! It was awesome! Any ways, all these pictures are from that day on the island!

This first shot is what pretty much ALL the streets looked like in the village. Outside the village there is a main road looping the island, and little paths leading off the main rode to different spots.




This was a good shot off all the traditional houses. Most of them had Shisa statues on top, but you can't really see them in this pic. Traditionally, the Shisa statues are there to ward off evil spirits. You will see a pic of one later, but believe me, they were EVERYWHERE.




We weren't positive, but we assumed that these were sort of a Japanese style Catacomb. There were a few spots on the island with clusters of these.


Hello!!!! One of only 2 shots of us together the whole trip! Haha. If it looks like a strange angle its because my camera is on the ground on Ian's little tripod. Its the best we could do!

Pretty beach



Ahh!! Say hello to our friend! We were riding our bike and passed him and he was kind enough to pose for a picture. You will see more of his/her kind in posts soon to come.


Ian, looking oh so quaint on his little bike in this cute little town.




Even though it was fairly gray the whole time were were in the islands, the colours were still amazing. I mean if it can look that good in bad weather, I can't even imagine what its like when the weather is perfect!




Ummm.....where are Ian's arms and Feet????



Shisa!!!



Ok....that's all blogger will allow me to post for now. But I promise, more VERY soon!!!

Lots of Love!!!

Tara

7 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aunt Lori said...

Hey guys, your trip sounds like you had a blast!!
The pictures, so far, are awesome. Looks beautiful!!
Can't wait to see more!!

Lots of love,
Aunt Lori xoxoxo

anita said...

Ooooh...purty!

Alexandra said...

Wow guys! That trip looked just AWESOME! ... although... I don't really thind I'd like to order a "Taco" salad, and find out it's a "Tako" salad... I would be quite disgusted...:P Well, the pictures are real cool.... but WHAT IS THAT ANIMAL THING?!? I liked it, but it was weird!! :) Well, that's all...

LOVE YA!!!!!!! xoxo

Daver said...

Some great pictures already! It does look beautiful even on a crappy day.

Oh and Ian, got to love how you explained the rest of the night.

MomE said...

Breathtaking. I'm envious. Now Ian let me know the firm dates so I can book our flights!

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday Tara! Happy Birthday Ee-un! You're a big boy now (almost)!

Hugs....Arlene