I spent the weekend enjoying John's company. I leave soon and so we wanted to cherish every second together. Friday we had to move stuff out of the cabin and do laundry. We watched movies and drew pictures as we waited for laundry to finish. We got checked into the hotel on Kadena Air Base and watched some more movies. We went to a place on base for dinner called the Banyan Tree Club and got pizza and chicken. It was a fun evening and was nice and relaxing. Saturday John took me to the new mall on Okinawa. They are developing that whole area for resorts and tourism. It is going to look really nice by the time it is finished and that mall was huge! I was informed it is the largest mall in Asia. We had fun shopping and even got to listen to a performer in the mall (couldn't understand what she was singing, but it sounded beautiful). The mall is slightly confusing because of the way it is set up but we had a lot of fun walking around and going in and out of stores. I even got a dress. We enjoyed lunch on the rooftop where there are a bunch of cafes and restaurants (it's not even their food court, they had two in lower levels). The food was absolutely delicious. I got this beef taco rice dish with a lemon sour cream and avocado. I devoured it and then we shared a dessert that was almost too pretty to eat. I will hopefully get the picture of it before we destroyed the piece of art, and will post later. After lunch we went back to base. Since it was the fourth of July we decided to try and find some fireworks. The only place that was having fireworks was on a beach that was an hour and a half drive away, sooooo..... we substituted and decided to buy movies that might have fireworks (or... ok... explosions) and that were patriotic. We got some flags and ate some American food and had a fun evening together. Sunday we went to chapel and then out to lunch. After lunch we walked to the arcade and actually won something this time!!! As well as accidentally break the air hockey machine. I don't think it was our fault but they got it running and I had fun remaining undefeated. I almost won at MarioKart2 and we had fun loosing money to the claw machines. After the arcade we went to the bakery and then to the BX on base to buy some new luggage. My suitcase got destroyed on my way here and John needed to pick up a small one as well. We went to Jack's Place for dinner again and decided to call it Our Place because we really enjoy their scallops and it has kind of become our place to eat on base for date nights. I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day and great weekend. I'm not sure I'll be able to post again before I leave. I am packing up my stuff tonight and then leaving tomorrow. I wish everyone the best and will see my family and friends again soon! Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement. This trip has been beyond amazing and I have enjoyed every second of it. I have learned so much about the culture and the arts of Japan and I have learned a lot about myself. I am excited to get my hands dirty again and start to develop my body of work more. Best wishes and see you soon!
After changing into some dry clothes, my wonderful host took me to the castle up the hill, Zakimi Castle. This castle was very different from the castle in Nagoya. It was mainly just the castle walls and some ruins, but we were able to take some stairs up to the top of the wall and walk along part of it. It gave an absolutely beautiful view of Okinawa. From on top of the castle on the hill we could see the river and the ocean, and even part of Naha City. We were not alone at the castle of ruins, we were welcomed by the largest spiders I have ever seen..... and it was terrifying how huge they are. Next to the castle was an art museum, unfortunately they were closing for the night when we got there, but on the outside there was an area filled with ceramic vessels. Some were large vases or lidded jars and some were shaped like a building with Shisa dogs (guardian dogs, one with it's mouth open and one with its mouth closed) or with "dolphins" (looks more like carp). These vessels were traditionally used as urns. It was a fun adventure and afterwards we went to a restaurant that you order from a vending machine, it prints out tickets and then when you are seated you hand them to your server and they bring out your food. It was very delicious and I got to enjoy goyoza that I love so much.
Thursday John had the day off and he spoiled me by taking me to the Yomitan Pottery Village. I got to look at a bunch of pottery and walk around seeing the difference between the styles of Okinawa and Seto. It is amazing how different the styles could be even with similar subject matter. Along with the pottery village we also visited American Village. American Village is this large shopping center with stores and small restaurants. We had sushi rolls for lunch which were perfect for the hot summer day. After an evening of chapel rehearsal we went to dinner for ramen at one of our favorite places and decided to walk around the shopping center. Neither of us had explored the area and thought it would be good to walk off all the food we ate. We found a 100 yen store, a place similar to a Barnes and Nobles but Japanese obviously, a bakery, and an arcade. Let's just say both of us were very excited about the arcade and we may have had a little friendly competition on a couple games. We plan on going back soon. The evening was filled with a movie and relaxation.
I really enjoyed getting to experience more of Okinawa off of base and hope to discover more in the short amount of time I have left. I hope you enjoy the pictures and I'll have more to come soon. Best wishes and enjoy your Fourth of July safely! I think we are going to try and find some fireworks to watch on one of the many bases on the island. Until next time!
Another morning in the library. There is a coffee shop that is attached to the library and they offer a small collection of coffees and breakfast goodies. Usually I get the breakfast burrito. I finished my book and checked out another to continue my thirst for leisure reading. After lunch I also checked out the gift shop on base. I got a few ideas of things I can do with my ceramics by looking at some glass platters they had. The glass platters were shaped like fish or seashells and I got the idea to make a slump mold of a fish or wildlife that would be commonly found in Illinois. I could then make plates and platters that would hopefully attract another demographic for me.
After the visit to the gift shop I walked back to the cabin to change to go snorkeling The weather was perfect for a swim, sun out, not too windy, tide high. As I got to the cabin I realized that I had left the turtle key in John's car and I was locked out of the cabin. I was glad to have another book to read so I just sat on the front porch in the beautifully crafted log furniture and enjoyed the sun. There were some firefighters doing some training exercise across the road. They were spraying the hose and the wind was just strong enough that I would get a little misting every now and then. It was quite beautiful.
John got to the cabin just in time though because I noticed that it wasn't quite sunny anymore and there was some dark clouds rolling in. We also discovered that the door to the cabin leaks profusely when it rains. The rain echoed from the inside of the beach cabin and the thunder shook the walls just a little bit. Makes me glad that it isn't rainy season or typhoon season because I could be in trouble. We dashed for the car and got soaked on our way. We spent the evening on Kadena Air Base setting up a room for me for my last couple days in Japan (cabin is booked by someone else over the weekend) and then looking for a movie to buy at the BX. We grabbed dinner at this place called Jack's Place. It was the same place that the hibachi grill is, but we sat on the dining room side this time around. I ordered the mango salmon and John got the Amazing Fry as they called it. It was fried seafood. The scallops were again amazing and I wished that I would have ordered scallops instead of salmon, though the salmon was tasty too. The meal was extremely affordable for everything we got, even a small dessert at the end, and the atmosphere was perfect. The Japanese workers were extremely hospitable and kind as always.
We had a great day and I got to explore a little bit more than I had. I still get to go on walks, granted it is usually from library to cabin or beach, but it is still a walk and I enjoy hearing the sounds of the thousands of crickets, birds, and cicadas. Have I mentioned that the cicadas sound like monsters and the crickets/grass-hoppers are the size of small birds? They are huge and sometimes I feel like I am under attack or in the middle of an ambush walking down the street. I wouldn't mind living in Japan but I do miss my family and friends back home. I also reallllly miss getting my hands muddy. I am quite ready to get on the wheel again and make some pieces. I am excited to see how my work develops after this short hiatus. Best wishes back home and tomorrow I will have some great adventures to talk about and hopefully some images too. I don't want to ruin the surprise but this afternoon I'll be going off base to explore a local area. I am beyond excited!
I spent the whole morning in the library. It was a hot morning and the walk from the cabin across base to the library was a sweaty one. I embraced the beautiful AC as I entered the building and refueled with a breakfast wrap and iced white mocha. I worked on finishing reading the book I had checked out and completely got lost in the writing. I didn't even notice that John had walked in the building to pick me up for lunch.
We met up with a few of John's friends and I ate a refreshing Thai chicken salad. After lunch John dropped me off at the cabin so that I could enjoy being a beach bunny once again. I laid on the sun warmed sand and read a little bit more while I waited for the high tide to roll in. I was getting a little impatient and noticed the water had gone up quite a bit but was still low. As I swam out I kept getting turned around and thinking I was swimming out further from the shore was only swimming parallel to it. The current was so strong I didn't even realize it had pushed me sideways. The current was also so strong that the water visibility was absolutely horrible and I could barely see in front of me. I didn't swim for very long because of the reason and decided just to enjoy my book some more until John got off work. He had planned a date night for us and I was very excited.
This is the second time John has taken me bowling on a military base. Both times I have won (I may be chuckling to myself right now). It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the quality one on one time doing a fun activity together. Before bowling we had walked around the BX (air force exchange shopping thing) and looked at Japanese vendors as well as looked for some souvenirs for family. We even got dinner out after bowling. It was a fun evening and overall I enjoyed my day. I even got an awesome sketchbook that I am very excited to start filling with my ideas from being in Japan.
However, there was a sad element to my day. After the unsuccessful snorkel adventure I washed and dried all of my equipment including my camera. After letting my camera dry I looked through the blurry images and set it aside for the bowling adventure. But, when I went to take pictures of John and I at the bowling alley my camera would not even respond to say the battery was dead. When we returned and changed batteries to see if that was the cause, we ruled it out and now not only do I have broken computer, but also broken camera. Hopefully in next couple of days I can put some more images up and track down the cliff jumping video as well. I am sorry for the lack of visuals and hope that my words could paint a picture for you until then.
All the best for everyone back home. I will be heading there soon and will miss Japan deeply.
Sorry for the delay my faithful readers. I was camping out on the beach this weekend and was without internet access for a couple days. Not going to lie though, it was kind of nice not having my phone constantly buzz with some kind of notification. I was able to enjoy the here and now and spend quality time with John.
Camping on the beach was fun and each night after the first was a lot better. After struggling with getting the tent to stand properly because of the wind, we were able to have breeze move through the windows of the tent and hear the ocean close by. It is summer in Okinawa, so very hot, and at night it only cools down just a little bit. I guess it was supposed to rain all weekend but we stayed dry and got to enjoy the outdoors.
Saturday John took me to lunch with some of his friends at the marina and I got to eat some very delicious food. We ordered some appetizers that included crab cakes and calamari. The crab cakes were absolutely the best I have ever had. For my lunch I ordered mahi-mahi fish tacos. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. It came with coleslaw and it was so fresh and light. It had a hint of lime and was a perfect combination with the tacos. Because I love food and am spoiled, John ordered us dessert too. We shared a terrimasu which came in this cup and was beautifully displayed. I want to start creating dishes that are likes work of art because it just makes the food taste even better! I strongly believe we eat with our eyes too.
After lunch we all went swimming. There was a giant cliff that we could see from our lunch table and we decided we wanted to swim out to it and jump off. I just enjoyed the water and watched for a majority of it, but then decided it was time for me to take the plunge. I borrowed someone's water shoes and climbed up onto the island. It was surrounded with hard rocks and coral and then when you get up to the cliff you have to use a rope to climb up the side. Then, we had to climb through a tunnel of brush and trees to get to the edge of the cliff. It was probably about 30-40 feet up and when standing on the edge the water was the most beautiful blue. I took a deep breath and jumped. I was only falling for a couple seconds before I was submerged and had tthe biggest wedgie of my lifetime. It was a thrill and exhillerating. If I had my own water shoes with me I would have jumped again.
After the long swim and cliff jumping adventure John and I were going to go to a concert but ending up passing out taking a nap instead. You know that feeling of just being drained from being in the sun all day, yeah, times that by like three because the sun is intense in Okinawa.
We did laundry and had movie night and just enjoyed each other's company.
Sunday I had the pleasure of going to chapel with John and helping with the worship service. I sang with John and Abby while they played ukalele and guitar. We were also joined by a gentleman named Byron. He played an instrument that is native to Japan and quite popular specifically in Okinawa. It has three strings and the body is like snake skin. It almost sounds like a banjo with the plucking of the strings. It was fun and the serman was great.
In the afternoon John and I went to a sushi place, conveyor belt style and gorged ourselves with delicious fish and rice. We relaxed the rest of the afternoon watching movies and doing more laundry. We got to move back into the cabin after taking our tent down that afternoon and just in time because it started to rain after lunch.
It is a beautiful island and I can't wait to see more if it. Here is a picture of Booberry and hopefully I'll get the footage of me jumping off the cliff so I can share it. More to come soon!!
John and I found a hermit crab that looked quite a bit different than all the many many other hermit crabs on the beach. We named him Booberry. He has blueish claws and likes to climb. Torii beach on Okinawa if filled with hundreds of thousands of hermit crabs and the really big ones like to come out at night. Walking to the bathroom from the campground a flashlight is a must unless you want to step on some shelled friends. We also spotted normal crabs, I wish I had my camera on me because there was at least three different types.
I spent the first half of my Friday in the library. It was extremely hot outside and the beach was crowded with soldiers and their families. I think a lot of the companies had beach parties and safety briefings. In the afternoon I read another library book and enjoyed the shade and smell of the ocean. After the work day was done John, one of his friends, and I went snorkeling. We went a lot further than I ever have before. We swam all the way out to where the waves were breaking and it got to the point that no matter how hard I tried to swim I wasn't moving. The water was really shallow where the waves break and we were able to stand and allow the waves to crash down on us. I saw quite a variety of sea life I hadn't got to see yet closer to shore. The water was a lot clearer further out and it was a lot of fun, especially with swimming buddies.
In the evening we had delicious ramen for dinner and then had a movie night. It was a nice relaxing day and even though I am not completely submerged in the Japanese culture, I am enjoying the Japanese island and the different aspects of life here. I love getting to go snorkeling and swimming every day and I love being able to read and relax. I wish everyone the best back home and will post more when I get access to internet again. Until then, I will be enjoying my vacation.
I spent a majority of my day on the beach again. My face may be a little red despite multiple applications of sunblock. In the morning I sat in a beach chair finishing my library book and soaking in the salt water breeze. It is in moments like these that your mind clears and you begin to really think. My mind has been churning non-stop with ideas for my pottery. Not just the pieces either, but business aspects as well. What type of business do I want? Do I want to sell just my own work or consignment for other beginning artists as well? What type of ratio do I want of functional tableware to fine art sculptural pieces? How do I market my self and my business? Where is the best location to sell? To live? Though I know I don't need all the answers now it is definitely a series of questions that is never ending and never resting in my mind.
For lunch John took me to a Japanese pancake house. They had such intriguing combinations and I even got to try their white chocolate milk which was beyond delicious. I settled on the rum raisin pancakes. They were two stakes made by sandwiching two pancakes with a cream cheese and raisin combination, topped with powdered sugar. It was a cute little shop and it reminded me of when I was younger and used to dream of owning a little shop. I always imagined it to be a used book store and coffee shop, but now as I am continuing to discover my undying love for ceramics I image a little gallery shop with ceramic pieces decorating the walls and shelves, offering a small selection of coffee and tea to drink with maybe some baked goods. However, I would just be happy to have a studio and shop just for my ceramics. Everything else is just the whipped cream on top.
My first full day in Okinawa was filled with water adventure. I spent my morning reading by the beach enjoying the cool breeze and beautiful scenery. I get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mr. Hooten and it makes me very happy. In the afternoon I decided to give my camera a try underwater. Have I mentioned I love my camera?!!! I saw some amazing creatures and even got to photography them which was pretty darn awesome! The beach is literally right outside the cabin I'm staying in so I just had to walk out the front door and there I was. Torii Beach is filled with sea cucumbers, tons of them. There is quite a variety of them too. I saw some really creepy looking creatures as well, had no idea what they are. I think I might have seen an eel as well so I quickly turned around and left that area. Eels freak me out just a little bit.
Along with the amazing ocean life, I got to eat some amazing Japanese food again. We had romen for lunch with my delicious goyoza I love so much. For dinner we went to another noodle place, but I had Japanese fried chicken and garlic fried rice. MMMMMMM delicious! We are planning our adventures for pottery for the weekends so we don't feel rush and I can really enjoy the clay. I did notice however, that the base has an arts and crafts center and in that center they have ceramics! They are closed today but I plan on checking it out soon. I will keep you updated. Until then, enjoy the pictures and try not to be too jealous. Best wishes!
Look who I found!!! So I made it to Okinawa and am reunited with my soldier. I got to eat some American food for dinner which was lovely and he even bought me dessert!! Yes, I am spoiled. But, before I was reunited with John, I was still at Kasen Studio.
Before leaving for the bus station Sensei put me to work. There was a lot of one day challenge pieces that Sensei was trimming and he asked me to put some handles on the mugs. I handled them really well (pun intended!). I got my apartment all packed up and cleaned up and then Loaded the car with Sensei. I said my goodbyes to everyone and Megumi gave me the best going away present, mosquito bite medicine haha!! It also came with a wonderful letter which meant the world to me. Sensei drive me to the bus station that was a direct path to the airport. The ride wasn't too bad and I didn't have to make any tranfers which was fantastic. When I got to the airport to check in with my luggage I hadn't realized that one of my bags was overweight. I felt so bad for the lady helping me but she was so nice and patient. We took some things out and rearranged the bags so I wouldn't have to pay a fine. She was extremely helpful and accomaditing. I noticed her last name was Kato and I thought what a great coincidence. Then, as she was helping me check in she was asking me questions about my stay in Japan and I told her I was studying pottery in Seto. And then!!! as we were pulling items out of my bags to lighten the load she saw one of the pottery pieces I bought and she said, "You said you were in Seto? I'm from Seto!" Small world! or at least small country haha. She was probably related to Sensei in some way but not closely. When I finally made it through check in and security I was able to relax at my gate for a little while before boarding.
As I was sitting there I had this feeling of bittersweetness. I was happy to get to continue my journey and see John, but I was sad to be leaving Kasen. I realized I was only there three weeks, but I felt comfortable there and it was beginning to feel like I've been there longer. It is that weird feeling when you feel like you just got there and time flew by and yet if felt like you've known these people for years. Goodbye mainland Japan, hello Okinawa!
Okinawa is beautiful too and I am staying in a cabin right on the beach. I can see the beach from the front porch. Many pictures to come I am sure. We are planning a trip to the pottery community on Okinawa and to the studio that Sensei told me about. My pottery journey is still continuing and who knows... maybe I'll find somewhere to get my hands a little muddy. Until then, I will find inspiration in my environment. Best wishes to everyone back home!