No, I'm not dead. I've been busy the past couple days. Yes, I do occasionally study here in Tainan.
On the third day of our trip to Okinawa, we decided to go to the aquarium up in the northern part of the island. At first, we figured we'd save money and take a bus. However, when we got to the bus station, the guy there told us that we could ride a tour bus and visit lots of places for only about the same amount of money as using the regular busses. However, after we looked at the tour bus pamphlet we realized that it was actually even cheaper still to just rent a car again for the day. I still don't know why this is as it seems all backwards to me that a rental car would be cheaper than taking the bus, but it worked out for us because we were able to go where we wanted to go and at our own pace too.
I thought this building was interesting. The hallways outside are totally open, allowing wind to pass through the building. I assume this was done to help combat the heat of the Okinawan summers.
There's a Japanese self-defense force bas next to the airport (where we went to meet the guy from the rental car place). It used to be an American military base until after Okinawa reverted to Japanese control.
We saw this truck and joked that if we were still in Taiwan, all those metal poles would be loaded onto some old guy's motor scooter instead of a truck. Except we weren't really joking.
There's a creepy statue of a soldier at the counter in this kitschy Blue Seal restaurant. We stopped here to get essential breakfast ice cream.
We're in the middle part of Okinawa at this point. There are lots of used furniture stores that have American furniture in them because of all of the US soldiers living around here.
Aside from all of the stores showing American influence around here, there are also just lots of soldiers wandering around. (Patrolling? I think soldiers like to patrol or something right?) These guys were pulled over to the side of the road when we went by.
There are also a bunch of A&W restaurants all over Okinawa. Actually, I'm such a New Yorker I never even saw an A&W restaurant (I didn't even know they existed) until the first time I went to Okinawa. One of my midwest relatives laughed at me for that.
The road we were driving north on is called "National Road #58". In the days of American control, it was Road #1. It was (and is) the main road that goes the long north-south stretch of Okinawa. (There's an expressway now too, but that costs money, so no one uses that.) Because it was built by the US military, not surprisingly, it passes right by a lot of their bases. In the above photo, both the right side of the road and the left side of the road are part of one of the sprawling bases.
I noticed when I was looking at this photo that the US flag is at half mast. At first I just assumed that because this is Japan, they keep the US flags lower than the Japanese flags as a sign of respect or something. (I'll admit freely I neither know, nor care, even slightly, about "proper" flag code nonsense.) But I just looked up Senator Daniel Inoyue, and I think it's possible that the flags were at half mast for him. This day would have been the 17th of December. The only thing I'm not sure about is, since Japan time is about half a day ahead of US east coast time, was it the 17th in the US when I took this photo? It may not have been yet; I'm just not really sure.
We stopped at one of the most beautiful castles in Okinawa, Zamami Castle, on the way north. This castle was built by Gosamaru, a famed castle builder with a tragic story of betrayal and intrigue. This castle's stonework is said to have impressed admiral Perry when he stopped in Ryukyu prior to visiting Japan.
And we finally reach the aquarium! The park around it is pretty impressive too. The island in the distance is called Ie. (Pronounced: ee-eh)
I can't remember now if these are American Manatees or local Jugons. They're almost the same thing, but they live in different parts of the world.
This is another photo where I was messing around with my camera's settings.
Next time! Day four, the last day, all of it spent in Naha!