Korean Cosmetics – Worth The Hype?


Our story starts off with a quest for a new facial cleanser. The weather here in Okinawa has been very dry recently and my skin’s answer to that is to put as much oil on the surface of my face as possible. I had just run out of my last bottle of facial cleanser and so it was time to head out and get something new. My first stop was Donky (a new discount store here in Ginowan). They have a huge cosmetic section and I couldn’t say no to the discounted prices. After looking around for about 10 minutes I finally picked up something and headed to the register.

The cleanser that I chose was a Korean product which to be honest I was excited to try. There are a lot of people all over the internet who talk about how much they like Korean cosmetics so I figured that this would be a great chance to wee if they were worth the hype. That night I opened the cleanser and was pleasantly surprised with the rich smell of the cleanser. It smelled like fresh squeezed lemons. After using the cleanser itself I was even more pleased. My face felt great and was no longer oily (which had been a challenge even for the last cleanser that I had purchased).

As I finished up my night time routine I couldn’t help but think if this was the reason that these Korean products are so well liked. I mean, the cost was half that of the rest of the cleansers in the shop and it worked incredibly well. Put that together with the other matching lines of products that they have and I can’t see how you can pass that up. Of course I have not yet tried the other products that they have available but I do intend to try them in the near future.

Have you ever tried Korean cosmetics? Do you think they are worth the hype?

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[Park Week] Wakamatsu Park


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If you’re looking for a quiet little place to enjoy some fun in the sun Wakamatsu Park is the place to be. Located in the vicinity of Camp Foster this park has a little something for everyone. For the kids there is a bunch of jungle gym equipment as well as a rollie slide and swings. There are also large grassy areas to play catch or tag if that’s the type of thing that you’re kids are interested in. For those who want to play sports there are tennis courts as well as baseball diamonds.

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There are also bathrooms located in this park which is a definite plus. The bathrooms are also maintained regularly so you do not have to cringe if you find that nature calls.

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For those who are history buffs this is also a historical site. You can walk just off on one of those paths that leads to some interesting sites such as the tomb pictured above. There is also information in English so that you can read about the tomb itself.

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Overall this is a great little place to visit. It is not as big as some other parks that you may find on Okinawa but you really can’t beat the location. If you’ve gone to this park let us know what you thought. How did the kids like it? Comment below!

Stained Glass Bridge – Kitamae Okinawa, Japan


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Finding interesting things here on Okinawa doesn’t always have to involve driving down an overgrown dirt road. In many cases the most beautiful things are right under your nose. One of these places is located in Kitamae which is right outside Camp Foster.

If you decide to take the back roads rather than Route 58 you will find yourself on a road that runs through some shops and apartment complexes. Along this road is a small bridge. In fact you may not even realize that it is a bridge at all if you aren’t paying attention. On either side of the small bridge is a structure. On the top of each structure is half of a dome featuring an ocean front scene as you might imagine it here in Okinawa.

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On a gloomy day this might not seem like much to look at but when the sun is shining and the sky is blue it is a sight to be seen

Although this bridge is beautiful and something I recommend checking out it’s important to consider that this in not an attraction and therefore there is no parking. Your best bet for visiting this attraction is parking at the beach and making the short walk over.

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[Your Question] Yaetake vs Yaedake


With some of my recent coverage of various things on Yaedake I received a question from a viewer who. He was here in Okinawa many years ago serving with the United States Armed Forces and noticed something strange about me post. He asked:

Why is it that you call it Yaedake? When I was there it was called Yaetake. Could you find out why this might be.

Loving the challenges that I receive from my viewers I quickly started doing some research on why at some time the “t” may have been replaced with what we now see everywhere which is the “d”.

My research took me to various websites focusing on different topics but it was not long before a pattern started to emerge. Regardless whether I searched in English or in Japanese when I looked for something with the “t” in Yaetake all of the search results were United States Military Related, particularly focusing on the Battle of Okinawa. Almost every site that I found was in English and focused on the war time activity which took place on or around Yaetake.

When I looked for information with the “d” in Yaedake I found everything else. Websites in both English and Japanese provided information regarding not only the history of the mountain but also what is there nowadays.

This made me curious. In the interest of ensuring that I was not mistaken in my pattern I continued to look up more information through various different sources but it still led me to the same conclusion.

Overall my best guess is that Yaetake with a “t” is something that was for whatever reason used by the American forces during the Battle of Okinawa and stuck for an unknown period of time. This type of thing happens in Okinawa (and I imagine other parts of Japan as well) due to the English speaking Americans not having a clear understanding of the pronunciation of the words used here in Okinawa. A present day example of this is a group of people out there who pronounce MCAS Futenma (foo-ten-ma) as (foo-team-ma). This would explain why on a number of the military related material you will find Yaetake rather than Yaedake. I anticipate that this changed, however, when the government of Okinawa started putting up road signs and such which featured the mountains accurate name.

Of course with anything like this it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why it was that something happened or was changed. I do as much research as I can and put forth my best educated guess but do not mistake there is a bit of margin for error here. Either way I hope that I have at very least given a bit of perspective on this interesting topic.

 

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Bus Lanes: How to not get pulled over on your way to work.


If you’ve spent any time on the roads of Okinawa, especially the main highway Route 58, you may have noticed that there are some areas where the far left lane is green. If you look closely you may see some writing and maybe even a sign but because we are in Japan after all you are most likely unable to read what it says. Thankfully you’ve got your good ole’ friend OkiNinjaKitty to help you figure out just what this green lane is all about and hopefully help you avoid getting pulled over by the local police department on your way to work.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post the far left lane that we are talking about is called the Bus Lane. The green part of this lane is designated for busses only during certain hours of the day. Generally speaking the hours are between 7:30am and 9:30am. This is posted on signs above where the Bus Lane begins.

Using the Bus Lane is relatively straight forward; during the posted times you should not be driving in the Bus Lane. The only exception to this rule is if you are operating a motorcycle. All cars, trucks and vans are to drive in the center and far right hand lane. So what do you do if you need to make a left turn? Merging into the Bus Lane to make a left hand turn is acceptable however it shouldn’t be done much more than 100 yards before your turn. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to make your turn safely but are not obstructing the Bus Lane.

Why all the hullabaloo? Here in Okinawa, much like other parts of Japan, public transportation is used by an abundance of people. Although it is admittedly severely lacking compared to other parts of Japan there are still those who rely on what public transportation is available to get to and fro. This is especially important during the morning rush hour when people are trying to get to work. With the dense traffic that we have here on the island it is incredibly helpful to have a Bus Lane where the busses can stay as close to “on time” as possible.

If you’re wanting to be a rebel without a cause and drive in the Bus Lane regardless of the rules then you’re looking at a fine in excess of  ¥10,000. Don’t think you won’t get caught either, especially on some of the most congested parts of Route 58. Police frequent those areas and pull over those who choose not to obey the law.

Nakijin-jo [World Heritage Site]


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There are many things that Okinawa is known for one of which is it’s abundance of castle sites. It is said that Okinawa was the home of over 300 castle sites, however many have been lost to the test of time and war. A great deal of effort has gone into reconstructing and storing some of these castles while others sit in ruins to this day.

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One of the castles which has been reconstructed and is now recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is Nakijin-jo or as it is also known by many Nakijin Castle Site. This large castle sits on the Motobu Peninsula in Northern Okinawa, Japan. The castle itself is immense and takes up much of the tall hill that it stands on. The view from the castle makes it no wonder that the royal people of the Ryukyus would want to live here.

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Nakijin-jo offers a great deal besides the castle itself. There is a large clean restroom with western style toilets as well as food stands and shops with various goods. Inside the castle itself there are various placards with information about each area with information in Japanese as well as English. If you intend on reading about the castle ruin one you’ve returned home or sharing the information with your family and friends you can also take English guide maps home with you.

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The site is a beautiful one any time of the year but during spring visiting the castle is a special treat. Cherry blossoms bloom on the site offering a beautiful walk to the castle. During certain days of the celebration you can also see traditional dances and other celebrations. Whether you are making the trip during the spring or any other time of the year you will find yourself enjoying the Nakijin-jo.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival


 

 

There are many cherry blossom festivals, or Sakura Matsuri, which happen throughout Okinawa each year. This year we headed to some of the Sakura Matsuri that caught our eye and thought that we would tell you all about them.  After heading to the Nakijin 6th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival we found ourselves driving around the Motobu Peninsula for a while looking for somewhere to eat. We were not anticipating heading to Yaedake as we had been there for the first cherry blossoms of the season but we drove by the entrance of the mountain and figured that we might as well head up that was and see the blossoms. As soon as we turned onto the road we knew that we were in for a treat.

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The Good

The festival takes place on the beautiful Yaedake. On any given day this location is beautiful enough but during late winter and early spring the mountain road is lined with beautiful cherry blossom trees. The festival grounds are located at the park on the mountain. The park is great especially for little ones with a large playground area to include a huge roller slide. During the festival, however, that playground is just the beginning of the excitement. A stage and large seating area was set with various entertainment and food booths lined the entire perimeter of the park.

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For the past few events we have managed to miss the festivities so the smell of matsuri food and the sound of music immediately put a smile on our faces. The booths themselves featured not only the matsuri food that you know and love as well as some special treats for the seasons. A particular booth sold sakura mochi another features hashi made from the wood of cherry blossom trees. There were also soba shops and some fried beef booth which was to die for.

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Aside from the standard booth for food and games there were also other activities such as a velcro wall, bouncy castle and even this large pool of water that had these floating hamster wheels in them for your water treading pleasure. If playing in the grass is more your thing then there was plenty of space for that too.

The Bad

To be completely honest there wasn’t too much that I would call “bad”.  We did notice, however that there were absolutely no trash cans or bags anywhere on the property. Of course not having trash cans is standard practice in Japan but it’s not often that you will see a festival completely void of trash cans.

 

The Ugly

The ugly for this event is the apparently broken men’s bathroom. Of course this was not an actual reflection on the actual event itself but it was the only thing that we experienced that day that we could call “ugly”.

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The Conclusion

Overall the event was everything that we were looking for in a cherry blossom festival. The music, the food and no shortage of cherry blossoms made for a great time. Driving up the beautiful winding mountain road with the blossoms on either side of you is just wonderful and then walking to the site itself amongst the blossoms was just wonderful. You could also enjoy a walk under the blossoms on the mountain road as well but we opted out because we arrived so late in the day. Overall this is our favorite cherry blossom festival to date.