Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Day In Japan; Rolly Slide Park

I was unsure about exploring when I set out yesterday. It was a sunny day compared to the past few dreary days and I didn’t want to waste it. But I was feeling a little bit lazy and didn’t think I would really find anything.

I didn’t expect to find what I did.

Actually, I’ve been here before. When I last lived in Okinawa. It wasn’t nearly as beautiful as it was when I found it. Perhaps it was the rare burst of sunshine we were experiencing that made the word "Wow" fall from my mouth. Maybe the joy of finding something when I thought I wouldn’t made it so breathtaking.

I was a little cautious to walk up the mossy steps. The turtle graves and statues of ancient legends in traditional Japanese dress told me that a white girl with frizzy hair wearing headphones with a cigarette dangling from her lips should not be here.

But the open-close sign painted on white wood gave me an excuse, so I snuffed the cigarette and turned off my music.

The stairs were shrouded in coral walls, trees, and tropical plants. I was expecting grave sites, broken logs that serve as stairs on dirt paths, and mystery. But at the top of the stairs, my view was opened up to a large soccer field. To my left were large grassy steps blocked with stones that I imagined would serve as seats during games. This day, it is empty. To my left is a sitting area with a traditional Japanese roof, sitting high upon a hill.

I am immediately greeted by a pack of Oki-mutts, their curled tails raised happily towards the sky with intrigue. They bark, but don’t come too close. They’re curious about me but I continue walking. The sight of a wooden playground indicates that this is the place that I hoped someday I would find.

I ate curry with my fingers with my best friend here, years ago. We talked a lot, but now I can’t remember what we talked about. Probably bras. In our adolescent girl days, we talked a lot about training bras. The rolling slide is still here. I decide to give it a go for old time’s sake.

There are steps and paths leading into the small forest that I decide to venture on. Dog bowls and small shrines litter the path that I’m not sure I should be walking on. The coral rock formations fascinate me. They look like naturally formed houses for small imps. I imagine that this is where tales of kijumuna are born.

It's deserted here, probably because it’s a Friday afternoon. I must be the only person on the island who doesn’t go to school and doesn’t have a job. It suits me fine, I like being alone. I feel awkward enough as it is, almost like I shouldn’t be here.

This park is a perfect mix of the old and the new. The playground hasn’t been touched at least since I was last here. Yet it’s extremely clean. I think the people decided that it is perfect the way it is and didn’t want to cover it with cement and rubber. It seems to have a touch of old Okinawan structure and yet, nothing is broken. There are vending machines, but then again, those are everywhere.

And it’s exactly what I love about Okinawa. Renovations haven’t been done in years because there is no need—people respect their surroundings too much here. Natural and traditional sites aren’t ruined, seeing as I’ve already found a handful of small caves and grave sites are untouched. It is hidden and therefore peaceful and quiet.

1 comment:

  1. Oh goodness! HURRAY! This place is beautiful and... I'm positive I've been there before. At least the rolly slide. I have pictures of me as a wee little kid on that rolly slide!! Oh my God, so many memories.