A Local drum-band was performing some traditional music and rythmn as a welcome and finally also a farewell to our cruisehip M/S Delphin Voyager in the port of Naha / Okinawa. That was a lot of fun, obviously such bands are organized by the local tourist-board.
This is a special ceremony that was held on each New Years Day in Shuri Castle and the name of the ceremony was "Chou-hai-oh-ki-shiki" and you will see it shown in a small-scale-model inside of the palace. The size of this small-scale-model is 1:25. Another such model shows the incoronation-ceremony of the king of the Ryukyus Kingdom .
Take a closer look at the guards in their wonderful and interesting costumes in Shuri palace: They will wear socks with an extra space for the large toe, I have to say I have never seen that anywhere else before !
b.t.w.: All of the tourists have to walk in their socks through the palace, but at least you get a small plasticsack at the entrance, so you can carry your shoes with you ! (my last pic!)
It was really a great surprise for me to see that Shuri castle is wheelchair-friendly ! You will find wheelchair-lifts at almost every stair and so you wont miss any part of this interesting palace that was reconstructed in 1992, as the bombings of WWII had destroyed the palace almost completely.
In Japan you will find the zebra-crossings leading you into ALL directions also x-wise across the street on major crossings. So ALL of the car-trafic from any direction has to stop for a while and the pedestrians start crossing the street in which-ever direction they want to go, that is a really good idea.
And that implies as well that ALL of the cars have to have left the area of the street-crossing as soon as its RED.
We must have looked very desperate and in fact we also were unable to find the right buttons to press in order to get a ticket for the Monorail. But that nice man who was in charge of supervising the station came out of his counter and explaned it for us. He did not speak any english, but we understood anyway.
You get your ticket and then you have to put it into a small machine that will open the bars for you when entering the Monorail-area.
The weblink below also has some instructions at least partly in english !
These pigs in the meat-department of the Makishi-market seem to have a lot of fun here even after their death. And the merchants there were very friendly towards us and did not mind us taking just photographs without buying anything there. That was the same case at the fishmarket for exotic fishes where everybody was smiling at us instead of pushing us away !
Those pigs obviously are happy to be on VT !
On top of many buildings and roofs you will find the traditional Shisa-lions that are ment in order to defend these buildings against dangerous ghosts and dragons and you will see a lot of different such shisa-lions, modern ones as well as the traditional ones on top of the houses that were rebuilt in the traditional Ryukyu after WW II.
When you enlarge my extra photos, you will see modern Shisa-lions in my photos 4&5 !
The island of Okinawa is situated in the very south of Japan and also in quite a distance from the mainland (about 500km from Japan but only 125 km from Taiwan) and from 1945 till 1972 Okinawa was totally under US-control. Untill now it is still used as an american military base, so that is one of the reasons why the local people are a bit more used to talk or understand some english and you will also find a lot more english inscriptions than on the mainland of Japan.
On the total it was quite easy for me to get along and find my way to the castle and finally a taxidriver to take us back to the ship.
In any case we had been prepared also by our ship with a piece of paper explaning the taxidrivers where to drive to in Japanese (my last pic)!