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Japan brings geriatric spelunking, monkeys, and taiko drumming I will never forget

The words geriatric spelunking kept running through my head as we trekked two caves in Japan - first on Ishigaki Island at the southernmost tip of the country and then on Okinawa, which is also far to the south.

We have a couple days coming up in Japan's big cities .... so, for my first introduction to this incredible nation, I chose more natural experiences.

At Ishigaki we travelled to Kabira Bay. Because I spent the Caribbean portion of this trip in COVID sick bay, this was the first time I had stepped onto white sand since walking my own beach in Muskoka. And it was kind of lovely.

We boarded a glass bottom boat that took us to a coral reef. Like the Great Barrier Reef, it guy was largely dead or dying. But still fascinating. And lots of fish.


Then we went to a place called Yaima Village where they have homes that are exemplary of those lived in by fishers and farmers of the 1800s. This was outside.

And this was inside.

This woman did a traditional dance with a bottle of saki on her head - after telling me to get out of her house with my shoes on! 😄

And they had a compound full of these adorable monkeys. Wish I could remember what species they were.

We stopped for lunch. Which was already served and waiting for us. It was delicious but odd because we sat in rows facing a wall ... lots of rice and fish ... though I had a hard time discerning red meat from vegetable dishes, which made for some picky eating. I loved the tuna sashimi!

Finally we got to the caves of stalagmites and stalactites that were totally amazing.

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The next day we landed at Naha in Okinawa which is best known for the huge American military base that has existed there since WWII. Our guide, Yu-San, worked at the base as a translator until she lost her job during COVID.

We started with a trip to an ancient shrine that required a climb of about 20 minutes up the side of a mountain ... not a huge exertion but enough to tire some of the older folks on our bus.

We were told by Yu--San to breathe in the air and experience the nature around us (the people of this island worshipped rocks and trees and water, as opposed to gods in human form) - which was not easy to do with 40 other tourists in close proximity. But hey, this was the shrine where priestesses honoured their gods.

Then we went to Okinawa World ... the Japanese have created a whole theme park around the caves on this island.

Lunch was like the day prior ... sitting in rows. But this was buffet style. Not sure I understand Japanese tacos ... but ok.

Then to the caves. What can I say! They were absolutely beautiful. We walked for a kilometre through caverns of purple and pink and grey and green, water from stalactites dripping on us from above.

This has been a park for 60 years and the cave has been equipped with a solid walking surface. But we followed a lovely underground stream throughout and the humid but spectacularly colorful and dramatic elements of the rock left me feeling very small.

Much of it was lit for dramatic effect ... some of which might have been overkill in the eyes of a critic ... but I could not help but be left in awe.

We emerged to wander some craft shops and then gathered for a taiko drum show. The audience at this event was 90 percent Japanese and 10 percent Poesia tourist. And I could not stop smiling.

I had to keep reminding myself that I was watching this in Japan. It resonated to the depths of me and words do not convey how excited I was to watch these (mostly) young ladies beat these drums in ways I had previously seen only on video.

There was dancing.

And there was a dragon ... of course. So wonderful.

I was hit by a flu virus in Manila so pushed through these days with the help of Tylenol and lots of tea. But am good now and am looking forward to two days in Osaka.


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