The tropical island playground of Japan, Okinawa is [that's how Yoda might start this page]. They have Shuri Castle (on the left) and lots of coastal beauty (on the right). So it was to this local I went for 4 days to celebrate my birthday in June of 2005.

I was impressed by Shuri Castle's unique style and curvaceous walls (left), but I was equally impressed that Okinawa had a drive-in A&W restaurant. I couldn't resist getting some of the hot grilled action.

But the taste sensations didn't end there. I had a strawberry cake for my birthday (left) and Mountain Dew was found in every vending machine I saw [and bought from every vending machine I saw].

Okinawa has it's only style of food and it's all yummilicious. Everything from Mimiga [pork ears] to Sooki Soba [pork and noodles], right on up to Goya Champuru [which is uh.... some kind of vegetable plus, well, you know, chumpuru...]. In addition to all these tasty treats they also have lots of Mexican food as a result of the American troops stationed there. And they have their own beer too, Orion (left).

But not only does Okinawa have it's own food, castle building style, music style, dialect, culture, and yada yada yada. But it also has it's own convenience store chain! Hot Spar (right)! That may not be exciting for some of you, but when I first saw Hot Spar I got all choked up and caffufled.

There's also the Churaumi Aquarium where they are trying to successful breed whale sharks in captivity and where I attempted to make out with a sea turtle through a very thick pane of glass (right).

The main tank though is by far the coolest thing at Churami. It's got the largest viewing window of any aquarium in the world and it houses 3 whale sharks (each about 7 meters long) along with a school of Manta Rays and a bunch of others stuff. The picture to the left of this is of the cafe by the main tank, but it doesn't really give a very impressive impression. Check out this page for a video (in Japanese) that shows it a bit better. The moral of the story though is that Churaumi was good, gooder, goodest.

I also saw a beautiful pony named Bambi lounging on the beach and knew that I had to go for a pony ride.

And that I did (left). But what's a pony ride without some snorkeling and scuba diving? I'll tell you what it is. It's a PB&J sandwich without the Jelly. It's Ike & Tina without Ike or Tina. It's John without the Bon Jovi. In short, it just aint much of anything good.

So BAM! I went and made my sandwich complete and had a great time under the sea, down where it's better, take it from me. I was a little afraid of all the sea urchins lying in wait for me to get too close, but aside from that fear, it was pure unadulterated fun all those fathoms (read inches) below the surface.

But the splendor of Okinawa didn't stop there. No no, oh boy oh no. It still had graffitted tetrapods (left) and ancient royal tombs (right) to offer. An offer that I couldn't pass up.

I did a lot of other cool little things and saw a lot of cool other things there as well, but there's no point in me rambling on about all that for too long. I understand an attention span is only so long for the internet without pictures and flash, buzz, bang animations to pull you in. So I'll save those other stories for when you and I are face to face dear reader. When you can't escape or turn me off.

But before I let you return to your world without Phill's text based ramblings, let me recount one last experience. There was a bar and a guy playing music and me drinking coconut flavored beer. And there was me tapping my toes feeling obliged to buy this guys CD since he was entertaining me so well, but then some business men from Osaka slipped him $100 and I thought "hey, I'm from Osaka. That ought to cover my joy based debts as well". And anyway he played Shima Uta [Island Song] by The Boom, which is a famous Okinawan singer. And anyway it was something close to a dream come true [not a very lofty or well thought out dream, but a dream none the less]. So I will leave you with the nonsensical translation of that songs chorus and hope you all have the chance to "ride the wind" and "cross the sea" to your own tropical island playground someday:

Island song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my love with you.


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