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Ryuguujyou butterflies love people, too

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-04-09

Tourists venture into northern Okinawa’s Ryuguujyou Butterfly House to see the thousands of butterfly inhabitants, but if you play your cards right, you’ll find the butterflies just as much intrigued with you.

Located on the edge of Expo Park in Motobu Town, The Ryuguujyou Butterfly House entrance is a demure-looking building aptly called “Ryuguujyou,” a fairy tale house. Built some 15 years ago, Ryuguujou is the name of the legendary castle where fish, turtles, mermaids and other sea creatures secretly have feasts and live happily and peacefully in the deep of the sea without letting human beings know their existence. It’s all a part of the Japanese fairy tale known as ‘Urashima-Taro’.

What does the fairy tale have to do with the butterflies? Well, nothing really, but it charges the atmosphere into something special. On the Ryuguujyou first floor there’s a section where people can see and actually touch the hundreds and hundreds of butterflies milling around. Inside the Butterfly Garden, the air’s a bit humid and the grounds are filled with lush, thick green vegetation. With little imagination, you’ll feel as if you’re walking down a narrow path in a small jungle.

More than 3,000 butterflies call Ryuguujyou home--including Ryukyu-Asagimagura, Houraikagami, and Ohgomadara—flying around among the plants and flowers. Ohgomadara can be seen only in Okinawa, since they exist only in the sub-tropical Okinawan paradise.

We mentioned the butterflies seeking you out: it happens very often to those wearing red outfits. Ohgomadara, easily recognized by the black markings on their white wings, are attracted to the color red by nature. If you want to experience the phenomena of being pursued by a butterfly, but don’t want it for a lengthy period of time, simply borrow one of the Butterfly House’s red caps for the short term adventure.

In the Ryuguujyou gardens are golden chrysalises of Ohgomadara, the largest butterfly in the garden. The golden color of the peanut shell-sized chrysalises is so glittering, it’s hard to believe they’re even real. They are though, laying their eggs under the leaves of only certain kinds of plants. From the distance, the chrysalises look like fruit, and it takes an expert to recognize them. An absolute recommendation: do NOT forget your camera.

On the third floor, visit the restaurant offering Okinawan-style fare. On a weather-perfect day, step onto the terrace and take in the view of Sesoko Bridge, Ie Island and Onna Island. Admission is ¥400 for adults and ¥200 for kids 3~16. A 20% discount from the entrance fee and the total charge at the restaurant is offered to those bringing this issue of Japan Update along with them. Simply present the paper at the ticket counter, and again at the restaurant cashier.

Ryuguujyou accepts only Yen, and don’t be surprised that very little English is spoken at the Butterfly House. It’s not a real deterrent though; hand and sign language works well and the friendly staff helps get around the language barrier. Parking is free in the spacious lot across from the building. Ryuguujyou is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To get there, take Highway 58 north from Kadena to Nago. Go straight and the road will change from Highway 58 to Route 449. Pass Sesoko Bridge and the entrance to Bell Beach Golf Club. Turn left to Highway 114 and continue towards Okinawa Expo Park. You’ll find Ryuguujyou on your left. The alternative is to take the Okinawa Expressway to the last exit in Kyoda, which puts you on Highway 58. From there, follow the instructions already provided.

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