Nago is a large city in northnern Okinawa. Hanami or Sakura Viewing Festival typically falls around March in mainland Japan comes ealry to Okinawa. While our friends back in Chicago are experiencing freezing weather, Kelly and I enjoyed mid to high 60's this week.
The Sakura that blooms in mainland Japan are more pale almost while, and when the petals fall it has almost snow like look. What grows in Okinawa is called "Taiwan cherry" and is a deep/dark pink and the whole flower falls off compared to the petals falling off slowly.
The Sakura trees were placed(sic) on a big hill. My understanding is that 'normal' sakura trees are sterile and are man made, I don't know if this hold true of their wild Okinawan brothers. It was fairly easy to get to, parking was available at the Nago Port. We took a free shuttle buss up to the park. It is possible to hike/walk up the "Bazillion" steps for a nice Hanami workout. There was a nice lookout tower to see a lot of the trees.
Hanami is usually an excuse to drink and party under that Sakura which we were surprised not to witness. There was a typical Matsuri(Festival) with all the typical, typical for Okinawa Matsuri/Festival food; Yakitori, Okinomiyaki, Takoyaki, Dango, Stuffed Pancakes, etc. Nago is also home to the famous Orion Beer Factory (Brewery).
When you first arrive here in Okinawa and start to walk around every bar has Orion Beer lanterns hanging (btw I would pay big money to find one). Orion Beer is an Okinawan point of pride, similar to Guinness for the Irish. So when we were offered a tour of the factory, I jumped at the chance. Now keep in mind Kelly and I do not drink.
It was a mildly interesting drip. Hops go here into this big stainless steel tank, then it gets moved into another tank and something happens and eventually beer. The tour was all in Japanese, but hey my local Budweiser brewery never have tours
Beer in my opinion proves the existence of God. 'Hey you know that stinky plant? Lets stick it in a pot with some water and let it ferment for like a month, then we drink it.' Like coffee where you mix ground burned seeds(yes coffee beans are seeds) with boiled water and presto coffee. These things don't happen by chance.
I've lived in Japan for 6 months now and it's been great, but this was the highlight of my visit and something I'll never forget.
I hope Kelly and I get to visit Kyoto during hanami which is supposed to be amazing. I have even more photos on my smug mug account