APOC11 (11th Asian Pacific Orchid Conference) and the 23rd Okinawa International Orchid Show is a yearly event that happens in February at the Ocean Expo Park located in Motobu. This is the largest orchid show in the country and a favorite among the many people who love flowers here in Okinawa.
This year we went to the show for the first time. To be honest we would have never heard about it if we had not gone to take a quick look at what a local travel agent located near our grocery store had available for local tours. Of course being the frugal and adventurous people that we are we skipped the tour but took down all the other vital information. It was also going to be exciting because it was the first time for us to go to the Tropical Dream Center, a part of Ocean Expo Park, which we had never gone to before.
We arrived early and were able to park a short walk from the entrance. (NOTE: If you plan on attending this event you’re going to benefit if you arrive early. There is minimal parking near the venue itself and by the time that we left there were a number of people having to walk a great deal.) The entrance had a number of vendors selling various orchid related goods. The prices were reasonable especially if you are looking for something that is of a different variety then you can find at a local store.
Once arriving on the inside of the venue (after purchasing our tickets which you can get at half price if you come with a same day stub from the aquarium) we were pleased to see that there were orchids everywhere. They were used to decorate the entire entrance and they would continue the theme throughout.
As we continued on the route we found ourselves in a room which was sectioned off with various contestants for separate categories. Each orchid had already been judged (this is a competition after all) and the ones which stood above the rest wore a ribbon. (or two, or three) There were so many that I honestly didn’t know where to look. Row behind row of beautiful multicolored flowers of all shapes and sizes seemed to take over the entire area of the Tropical Dream Center. In fact to be completely honest I cannot imagine what would even be there if there were no orchids.
As we continued to walk through the venue there were places to sit down and rest, even a large court yard with dancers and more goods to include turkish ice cream. The turkish ice cream was apparently a big hit because there was not one person in the place that was not enjoying some.
Overall we had a great time and would certainly go back again. There are some things that you should know before you go. Head over to the event early and before the flowers wilt. I realize that this is a place where flowers are kept but with the temperatures changing and everything else that has been going on recently it’s best to get there as soon as you can so that you don’t find yourself missing out. Arrive early in the day to avoid too much congestion. If you really want to look at the flowers then getting up early and heading out that way is going to be beneficial. We arrived at about 8:30AM when the event opened and left around 12:30PM. As we were heading out the large crowds started to roll in so the timing was just right in my opinion. Keep the kiddles at home. I realize that there are a number of people out there who feel that every place on Okinawa is kid friendly but the fact of the matter is that there are some places where your child simply isn’t going to benefit from the experience and overall as a parent you’re going to have a stressful time. Although this event offers child pricing (which is part of the standard pricing for the venue) there is really nothing for kids to do during this event. After all it is a flower show and competition. It is important to note, however, that this place would be a great place to take the kids any other time of the year as there are activities that would be scheduled more during the summer months but none of these seemed to be available for the show. If you do plan on taking the kiddles because you know that they can handle or would enjoy this type of thing keep in mind that the venu is not necessarily stroller friendly. If your intention is to bring a small umbrella stroller you should be good but the new large double strollers are going to be a struggle to get through some areas where the orchids are being displayed. Also note that baby backpacks might not be a good idea either because of low hanging plants and low ceilings which will no doubt result in plant like in your baby’s face (especially if mom or dad are tall).
Aside from those few things there is not much else to say about the event. There is a very English friendly staff for this event as it is International. There are also people from all over the world too. I would certainly check it out if you are interested in flowers or just looking for a nice place to spend the weekend.