Cherry Blossom Festival

I was looking forward to my first festival the moment I got here.  I had heard Okinawans are always looking for an excuse to party.  The blooming cherry blossoms seemed like a good reason to celebrate, so Fred and I headed up to Nago for the annual cherry blossom festival.  Nago is a leisurely 40 minute drive from our house.  We took the scenic route and made a few stops on the way.  The further north we went, the more tropical and lush the island appeared.  The coast was spotted with big name resorts along the way - the Renaissance, Marriott, and Intercontinental.  Definite vacation area.  But for good reason - it was beautiful.

Nago was a cute town on the ocean.  While I don't think many Americans lived there, they were out in full force for the festival.  The main street was closed for festival-goers and was lined with food vendors and carnival games.  Music blarred throughout the town.  I was starving when I got there so we hit the food vendors first.  Lots of fried foods and meats on sticks - not too different from the states.  Fred suggested the takoyaki - literally translated as fried octopus I think.  It looked like a soft bread ball with sauce on top.  It was hot, doughy and had a chuck of octopus inside.  Quite delicious and apparently a popular festival food.  After a few octopus balls and a couple beers, we decided to climb up the hill to see the cherry blossoms.  

The trees climbed up a hillside and were mostly in bloom.  Stone stairs ran up the hillside for pedestrians to climb along the trees.  It was quite a hike, but the trees and view from the top were beautiful.  A small shrine was set up at the half-way point.  Again, I almost felt like I was at Epcot because of all the Americans walking around.  The cherry blossoms aren't blooming in mainland Japan yet.  Okinawa gets them first.  Fred and I will be visiting Tokyo near the end of February, but I don't think their blossoms will be out until end of March.  

For more photos of the Nago Cherry Blossom Festival, click here.         

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