Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yonabaru Festival

We went out to the Yonabaru Festival, a 2 day event that comes together every year to practice 400 year old traditions to pray for a good harvest and to chase the devil away.   
We went out on Saturday evening and there was a lot going on.  There were tons of vendor booths offering the typical strange Okinawan fair food and carnival games.  There was a really interesting and entertaining sumo wrestling tournament going on as well as a Taiko drum performance, eisa dancers, Okinawan traditional dances, Hawaiian dancers and live music.

We had a great time and it is always fun to experience and participate in the interesting Okinawan culture and traditions.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Food Snob

Lets face it, the commissary tries, it does, but it is lacking majorly in the "health food" department.  I'm always on the hunt for stores like this little gem, Green Leaf, that is chuck full of fabulous organic and natural food items from produce from local farmers, coffee, wine, and even organic chocolate.  We went a little food shopping crazy at this little store, but the items were hard to resist.  I loved the fresh produce and the lettuce was particularly good, as were the organic eggs, and fresh bread.  We made a fun organic dinner of salad, organic wine, pasta, sauce and even organic olive oil.  I will be frequenting this great little store often! 

Sayonara Bolaven

We've been hunkered down here for the past two days with this not so welcome guest storming right over top of our little island:

I went out to help get the barn ready for the storm and it was amazing how calm and beautiful it was.  You'd never know two huge storms were looming out in the Pacific. The surfers were certainly out enjoying the big surf pre-storm. 

Looks like the rain has finally subsided tonight, and I'm glad to say sayonara to this this big 'ol thing.  I've been through quite a few typhoons on this island at this point and when these storm roll through I suddenly get quite grateful that the Okinawan's favor ugly, concrete bunker type buildings instead of our pretty American ones they tend to blow over in hurricane winds. 

It's only been 2 days, but I'm so incredibly ready to get out of my apartment and I want to go see my boys at the barn!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cat lady

I had heard about this crazy cat lady heaven for a while now, but finally decided to venture out and see this unique and strange little place for myself. 

Basically this cat lady collected a shit ton of cats, the way cat ladies do, and then decided to let people pay to pet them and she'll bring you a juice/coffee/tea while you play.  The "set" was something like 750 yen for an hour.  And you go in, put slippers on and proceed to have free rein with this horde of fluffy, lazy kitties.  There happened to be a tiny kitten in residence when I went and I about flipped my lid over this thing and wanted to put it in my purse for Jades new play friend, but Brad, the voice of reason said that the cat lady may just be crazier than I am.  Which is probably true. 

No, in reality, the place was super funny and strange, but sweet.  This lady takes in all these cats (and trust me there are so many homeless animals on this island) and she treats them really well.  She has created her own little cat haven with all kinds of fun toys, beds, baskets and the cats seemed really happy there.  The cats were clean, well fed and just plain happy.  And the cat lady was really sweet too.  You can tell she REALLY loves these cats.  Brad was such a good sport going along with me to this place! 
Funny little place for my fellow cat ladies out there. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Close encounter with the wrestling kind

So randomly, during the last summer camp a few weeks ago, a masked man came to the barn to speak with the owner (apparently they know each other somehow, small island and all...) and suddenly I realized that he was one of the guys from the random wrestling poster that's been hung up at at the barn.  So I went over and asked in my bad, broken Japanese if we could take a picture with him in his sweet wrestling mask, and of course he said ok.  The guy spoke English, I told him how I take kickboxing and how much I like wrestling (mostly the big, huge, muscley guys in tiny underpants).  The owner ended up buying us tickets to go see this guy wrestle and I've been excited about it for weeks.

So, my friends and I go off to this thing, not really knowing what to expect.  I mean the guy we met at the barn said there were wrestlers from all over Okinawa and Japan and even a wrestler from Australia in the group.  He said that he never takes his mask off.  Never?! He even rode a horse with the mask on under his helmet.  I wish I had been there to see that.

I'm thinking we're going to some type of underground fight club kind of thing.  I'm anticipating like crazy martial arts mixed in giving it a real Japanese flare.  ... Well, it was a unique cultural experience that's for sure. 

We found the place easily enough.  It was a large indoor pavilion and the first thing we have to do after giving our tickets is take off our shoes.  Ewwwy.  I really particularly dislike this aspect of Asian cultures.  Do NOT like.  If I'm going somewhere where I know I have to take my shoes off I always bring some socks, but I was not expecting to take my shoes off to walk around a big icky stadium place.  I have a huge fear of getting that horrible toenail fungus, plantar warts or anything else really horrible on my feet and I don't want my feet walking around after everyone elses funky feet.  Bleh.  Anyways, shoeless we go.

The whole show was in Japanese, so we could only really guess what was being said and what was going on.  I do know that the crowd was into it.  Really into it.  They were going nuts.  There was Habu Man, Mango Man, Goya Man, Mongoose Man, Pineapple Man, Eisa Dancer Man, Shisa Dog Man, even Have A Good Time Orion Beer Man.  There was one chick wrestler and I think she was some kind of bird.  They are all uniquely Okinawan themed wrestling characters.  Too funny.  And they were all in costumes and of course masks.  Some of the masks were beyond creepy.  I found it extremely disturbing when they were wearing their masks, but normal clothes especially.  Like after they were done with their show, they would change and then walk around, but still with the creepy mask on.  I couldn't help but think of the dude we met at the barn and how if I saw some of those masks out on the street I would be totally terrified. 

I had a really had time getting any pictures to turnout, but here are a couple. 

So, we saw match after match and 3 hours worth of Okinawa Pro Wrestling.  There was a short Eisa performance at the beginning, a half time show with 3 girls singing and dancing and tons of extremely unflattering tight spandex costumes.  It was strange, funny, unique and something I'll never forget.  It was one of the many, many times I've wished I had made my lazy ass learn Japanese. 

Here is an article from last year on Okinawa Hai:

This years event was held at a larger venue at the Okinawa Prefectural Hall of Marital Arts in Naha.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Roll out the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer!

What have I been up to this summer?  A lot.

Yesterday and today a typhoon has been coming through so I finally have some time to catch you up.

I celebrated my 28th birthday on June 30.  Spent the day learning to paddle board and relaxing on a beautiful beach.  Went to my favorite organic and vegan restaurant for dinner and they even came out with a special birthday plate for me! 

The next weekend we went on a belated birthday outing and went out on a boat for the day to snorkel the Karama Islands.  I went out on this boat last year when my friend was in town and had a great day, so I was excited to go again.  Except this time there were at least triple the amount of people and I got horribly sunburned even with 70 on.  Oops.  And this was the day we sadly discovered that our underwater camera bit the dust, so I only have a couple of pictures thanks to the fabulous iPhone. So incredibly beautiful out there! 

I've been taking a really fun and intense kickboxing and self defense class.  I'm addicted.  It's feels great to surround myself with strong and empowered women 2ce a week.  I'm learning how to pack a serious punch and how to ram my elbow into an attackers face.  It is an amazing stress outlet and I always come away from the class super sweaty and feeling powerful!  And as an added bonus the academy is right on the beach and I have stunning views on my walk to and from class.  I'm still doing yoga and running.  I love my new hot pink running shoes! And yes, of course I have pink boxing gloves.

I got to spend a lot of time with my friend Madie and her baby Addison.  I love that adorable baby to pieces!

Work is going great.  Busy, but great.  We had one summer camp group already and are getting ready for the second camp to start this week once the typhoon passes.

Check out the picture slide show I made from our camp week:

Lessons are going strong.  Keeps be busy!  I've haven't had a ton of time to fit in my own riding, but when I do Makoto and I have great rides.  It's summer, so the beach rides have been abundant! 

And seeing all those amazing horses on the Olympics is a huge motivation!  I LOVE the Olympics.

And here is a quick hello from Jade and her friend Zoey (who's visiting again while her parents are on vacation).  They are so adorable I can't stand it sometimes! 

I hope your summer is sun and fun filled!