Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sefa-utaki Sacred Site and the Shikinaen Gardens

With our time on Okinawa winding down at an alarming rate, we're trying to get out and do some more exploring as often as possible. Today, we were all over the place on the southern half of the island, checking out some sacred sites and a garden.

First up was the Sefa-utaki Sacred Site. I...don't know a whole lot about it, since most of the signs were in Japanese, but I understand this was where a lot of the Ryukyu women came to pray, seek guidance, etc., during the 14th century (or thereabouts).

And I'm not even sure I want to know why they felt compelled to point out that we're not allowed to dig up the trees.
Anyway, we headed down the path...
That would be my husband on the right taking a picture. What was he taking a picture of?

A spider, naturally.
What can I say? It's that time of year on Okinawa.

And it's a jungle out there:
We arrived at the first sacred site, which I'm assuming is a shrine people would come to pray. I'm not being irreverent at all, I just don't completely know the history of this place.
A really cool-looking tree:
Annnnnnd another spider.
I think this may be one of the biggest I've seen. Its rear end is the size of my thumb. whole thumb. It's not the biggest, though...I'll get to that a little later.

Moving right along...if you aren't sure why I felt the need to take this picture, just look at it for a minute. It'll come to you:
Then we found a little swampy area, and behold! Salamanders!
Between the water and the lighting, getting a pic was challenging. These won't be gracing National Geographic any time soon, but at least they're proof that I did, indeed, see salamanders.
The second sacred site:
And the third sacred site.
Apparently the pots caught water dripping from stalactites, which was considered holy water.
Menacing spider is menacing.
With the sacred site thoroughly explored and the spiders photographed ad nauseum, it was time to move on. We piled into the car just in time to get out of the rain, and pootled up north to the Shikinaen Royal Gardens near Shuri Castle.

The roof of the visitor center:
I'm fascinated with that style, what can I say?

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than strolling through a place like this.
Have I mentioned how much I don't want to leave Okinawa?
I mean...seriously.
This place is just too freaking awesome.
Omaha, I'm sure you're a kickass town, but I'm not terribly optimistic about finding anything like this:
Bridge in the garden:
The garden, viewed from inside the palace (which is the building in the picture above):
Lots and lots and LOTS of bugs.
A bright pink dragonfly:
Another crappy picture of a salamander, this time in the water below a shrine:
A snail, with Elisa's hand to show scale:
Note this is not a cone snail. They won't kill you.

THEY won't, but these will:
The uber poisonous centipede, which probably has some sort of spectacularly menacing name, but hell if I know what it is:
Speaking of menacing...
Remember how I mentioned earlier that the big black spider wasn't the largest spider I'd seen here? That's because I'm fairly certain THIS is the biggest spider I've ever seen on Okinawa:
For scale, she's eating the hell out of a very large cicada.

This one wasn't much smaller:
"Om nom nom nom nom nom..."

(It's the first one I've seen this year. Yes, I got a little excited. Okay...a lot excited.)

Everyone stop and pet the kitty!
Up on top of the hill, looking out at the city. Honestly, sometimes I forget just how big this island really is until I see it like this.
And then I get photo-bombed by a dragonfly.

1 comment:

  1. You got some great bug shots! Never saw any of the banana spiders, but had quite a few of the centipedes in my house!