Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Visit to the Shisa-en Izumi, Okinawa

During our 2011 trip we stayed mostly in the southern and central part of Okinawa but did manage a few excursions to the northern areas. On one of these excursions my wife mentioned that she had clipped a magazine article a couple of years before that was about a unique coffee shop located in Izumi Okinawa. Our trip for the day did not include Izumi but since it wasn't far from where we were (and my wife just happened to have the two year old article with her) we decided to see if we could find it. It ended up being one of the places that will probably remain in my memory banks for quite some time as it was a very beautiful and unique experience. 

Shisa-en is a coffee snack shop located in the northern forest region of Okinawa. It's located in Izumi, a place that is famous for growing tangerines and pineapples. It's well off the beaten path and a bit hard to find situated at the top of a steep grade on top of a small mountain. When driving the road to the top of that mountain I though this place is so removed that it couldn't possibly have the customer base it might have had if they had just built it down on the main road. How would a tourist bus ever make it up such a steep mountain road. Actually nothing could have been further from the truth. Not the part about the bus because there was just no way! But the part about not having a rich customer base. The place was wonderful and there were many customers there when we visited. 

Here is a short video of our experience. I put music behind it because I like the sound of it but my wife says its a sad song about someone who misses home. I think its appropriate though because I really want to return next time I'm in Okinawa. 

Even though this kisaten (coffee shop) does not serve meals, it is a nice place to relax and enjoy the fresh air of the Motobu region. There are snacks just not full course meals. It is a place where local artisans display their art and pottery. There is a room upstairs with open walls, giving visitors a feel of being in a tree house. There are also covered areas with benches within the gardens that surround the building. Something I noticed was a tremendous amount of butterflies there which were soothing to watch. The coffee shop itself is a bit pricey with drinks running about 500 yen each but when you consider the atmosphere it is well worth the price. There were three of us and we each had a drink and also ordered two orders of snacks (a vegetable crepe) and I believe our bill was 2300 yen. I think overall you will be very pleased if you visit this establishment.

To get to the Shisa-en You need to pass the intersection where route 123 begins (There is a gas station on the corner) after entering Izumi from Nago on route 84. Turn left at the river and follow the wooden signs. To get there by bus take the number 70 or 76 bus and get off at the Dai Ni Izumi bus stop. From there you will need to walk to the small bridge where the traffic light is located and take the road next to the river all the way to the top.

  Be prepared and carry water with you when venturing about in Okinawa.

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