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Local Parks Offer Exciting Activities for Children

By: Wendy Hively

Date Posted: 2001-01-12

Whether you live in base housing or out in town, the dilemma of where to let your children play is an everyday problem. There are many parks around the island, but locating them is not always an easy task. The lack of street names or directions that are so outdated the key landmarks no longer exist, make navigating almost impossible. Recently, I discovered two parks, Wakamatsu Park and Morikawa Park, that offer fun alternatives to the play areas on the military bases.

Wakamatsu Park, located near Camp Foster, has activities to accommodate a wide range of ages. Inside the park are castle ruins, a soccer field, a covered picnic pavilion, a large wooden playground, two rollerslides, a small playground for young children and restroom facilities. The massive wooden play structure is quite impressive and extensive. It was built using wooden logs reminiscent of the old Lincoln Logs of many years past. There are slides, rope ladders, tire swings, bridges and poles to swing from and slide down. Walking along the logs is a bit challenging, as it is easy to lose your balance. Smaller children many find it rather intimidating.

The highlight of Wakamatsu Park is the two metal rollerslides. Each slide has hundreds of rollers that spin to carry you along as you zip down to the bottom. The kids had so much fun on them that I had to give it a try. It was difficult to stay balanced, but I couldn’t stop laughing as I raced down with surprising speed. Below the rollerslides is a small playground for younger children. There are several animals on springs, a spiral slide, swingset and large swing to accommodate at least four people.

Morikawa Park, located near MCAS Futenma, is much smaller than Wakamatsu Park and its play area is much less extensive. The surrounding park area is quite beautiful with stone paths, trees, plants and flowers, and a fantastic view of the East China Sea. The highlight of this park is the massive concrete slide, decorated with flowers, which descends from a height of around twenty feet.

At the entrance to the park is a shrine in honor of the “Angel” of Mori-no-Kawa. Legend states that a local farmer discovered a beautiful woman bathing in a spring and noticed her garment, made of feathers, hanging on a nearby tree. He hid her garment so she would have to stay with him. She revealed to the farmer that she was an angel and had been so drawn to the spring that she stopped to bathe. As the days passed, the two fell in love and had children. After many years, their daughter found the feather garment where her father had hidden it. When her mother, the angel, discovered her “wings”, she flew back to her home. Although the farmer was sad, he knew she would eventually return to her land. Their son, Satto, was king of Okinawa from 1349 to 1395 and is hailed as one of the greatest kings in Okinawa’s history.

To get to Wakamatsu Park, turn right out of the Camp Foster gate next to the PX onto Route 330. Turn left onto Route 81, which will change into a two-lane road. Look for Restaurant China on the right. Turn right onto the road just past the restaurant. The road ends at a parking lot surrounded by turtle tombs. You will see a large set of stairs leading up to the park.

To get to Morikawa Park from Kadena Air Base, drive south on Route 58 past MCAS Futenma. Turn left at the traffic light next to the Peacock Restaurant. At the next intersection, turn right. You will pass a gas station on the left. Look for the church with a white cross on its steeple, on the right. Across from the church is a narrow road with an overhead sign pointing left toward Morikawa Park. Turn left and follow this road until you see the park area.

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