Sharing the pictures and adventures we will experience on our trip to Italy

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cultural Immersion of the best kind

Our cultural immersion in all things Japanese continued today as we went north on the island. Our first stop was at Yomitan Pottery which is "ichi-ban" - number one in Japanese. We arrived right before they opened and thought they were closed but luckily they arrived to see us staring longingly in the window and quickly opened the door for us. The pottery was beautiful with some very unique styles. You'll be glad to know we did exercise some restraint and only bought a few small things. That is good since tonight we are now packing a few small priority boxes to send home ahead of us.

The best kind of immersion was our second stop at the Cookie Factory. For those of you who have enjoyed visits to Costco or Whole Foods for the samples, this was even better than that. They had samples of every kind of cookie they made, many with the now favorite sweet potato flavor. Boy, did we have fun. And then we went back to the room that had the sake. Just one small taste with water was more than enough for any of us. We resisted buying another delicacy there - 4 packs of Spam. Lucky told us it is a favorite here since the battle of Okinawa when it was the food that kept them alive. We made a pit stop before getting back on the road and were delighted that along with their squatty potty they also had Western toilets. Just not adding that to our new experiences.

The ride along the coast road to our next stop was great since it was very windy today and the surf was covered with whitecaps. We did see a few surfers out in the surf even though they ran the risk of going right into the cement jacks which help to stop erosion. Our next stop was Pineapple Park. It has been described as Disneyworld meets Tokyo meets crack. Quite an apt description. We started with a ride on an automatic pineapple car - a golf cart with a pineapple on top that rides through the park and talks to you - describing the various trees and plants we were passing. Then it was on to the tasting room. And there were all things pineapple from wine to cookies to vinegar to chocolate and even some very good fresh pineapple. By the time we left we were pretty darn full.

And that was good since our ride to Pizza in the Sky or Kajin-Ho took quite a while. The road twisted and turned and turned back as we made our way to the top. It was made especially challenging as we were searching for the sign in Japanese. We decided the first letter looked like a man facing right and tossing an orange in the air while another man was facing him and aiming with a bow and arrow. Complicated but it worked and we were rewarded with fantastic pizza and a fabulour view of the East China Sea. And we even sat at the old ladies table which didn't have seats on the floor. Quite comfortable.

Our day wasn't over though since we were on the hunt for the Clinton house. Yes, that Clinton. It seems that in 2000 a wealthy Japanese man was so enthralled when he visited Hope, Arkansas that he came back and made an exact replica of the house. Again we were attempting to read the maps, a futile attempt but somehow we found it at the Kanucha Bay Resort. Unfortunately it has been turned into a day care and it wasn't open to the public. But we did take pictures of ourselves waving from the porch. And we did see more beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Once again, we need to applaud Lucky for her good humor and patience in being our guide and not giving up when we just can't find something. We've had lots of laughs as we've made our way around the island and found new places to explore. We did see the perfect shirt for her. It said Local Tour Guide! Couldn't be more perfect.

You may not recognize us when we return. We are beginning to use our few Japanese words and figure that store clerks at home are just going to stare when we bow and thank them at every turn. The Japanese people are so incredibly polite. Today, Felicity thought she misplaced her camera (it was in her pocket) and Lucky said not to worry because if someone found it, she would get it right back. They are very honorable and honest people. It is so refreshing.

Sorry this has been so long. I think I'm realizing that we are almost finished our adventure and want to be sure I don't miss a thing. Arrigato for listening.


flick1993 said...

Sounds like you two having been having lots of fun. I spent 20 years in the USAF and only got as far as Hawaii. You remember Hawaii don't you Fliss.


Erin said...

Hi, Nancy! I've been reading with great envy still! I'll be a bit closer to you as of the weekend- off to Kazakhstan with my sister for the adoption. He, he! Can't wait! At least I'll have a tiny set of stories to share with you (compared to your amazing odyssey)when we get together upon your return!

:) Erin