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A Rainy Day Excursion

By: Lana Sutton

Date Posted: 2001-06-29

The rainy season is just about over and you’re ready to get out and around the island. And, what a beautiful island it is. There’s so much to see and do, where do you start? Since I live in Ishikawa, I thought I’d head north to the Expo Aquarium and stop at a few places along the way.

After a healthy breakfast, I decided to start at The Busena Terrace Resort. Since it was still a bit rainy and overcast, I decided to take a ride on the Glass Bottom boat and then go to the Observatory for an up close and personal (and dry!) look at the beautiful underwater creatures. We boarded the boat and were greeted with a friendly smile and “Hello!” from the crew. The water was very clear that day and a lovely shade of blue! You could see clearly the coral and the many fish that live there. The fish were immediately drawn to the boat- I guess they knew it was mealtime. One of the crew tossed a handful of fish pellets into the water and started a feeding frenzy like I’ve only seen at the O’Club Buffet! There were so many colorful fish, I didn’t know where to look first. Our driver slowly maneuvered the boat on top of them and we were able to get a better view. As we leisurely made our way back to dock, our guide pointed out the various fish and gave us their Japanese and English names.

I was ready for the Observatory. As I walked along the plank to the Observatory itself, I could look down at the splendid coral and beautiful East China Sea. Once you get to the entrance, it’s a steep walk down into the depths of this magnificent water. Looking through the “portholes,” you can see the rolling sea and its amazing abundant life. Their theme “kiss the fish,” seemed very appropriate as I walked up to a porthole. One or two fish came to the window to greet me. Am I looking at him or is he looking at me? I was also surprised to find that The Busena Terrance Resort has two cameras pointing out of the windows so you can log onto a website to see what’s going on, any time of day.

After a while, I was feeling a bit hungry and I decided it was time to get a bite to eat. Busena has a wonderful selection of restaurants for any appetite, but I wanted to visit my favorite coffee shop, north of Nago City.

There are numerous coffee shops along the route in the Motobu area. Just drive around and follow the signs. You might find one or two that you can call your favorite. Most shops have a friendly staff and are always happy to see a foreign face. This Motobu coffee shop has a limited menu consisting of hot and delicious fresh made pizza (two sizes), salads big enough for four, and a variety of hot and cold coffees and teas. Their shop also doubles as a store for local goods like bingata and pottery. Overlooking the Motobu Peninsula, it offers a lovely view and a serene place for a quick catnap. The staff is very cordial and although I speak very little Japanese, they were very patient with me and my many questions. I felt refreshed and ready to continue.

Not having enough of the ocean, I was ready for the Expo Aquarium. Even more wonders awaited me as I drove the 20 minutes to the park. I had never been inside to see the Aquarium or its main attraction, the whale shark, so this was a treat for me.

I entered the Expo Park and stopped along the way to see the dolphins, manatee and other aquatic animals. Making my way through the museum of interesting aquatic information, I finally saw the first huge tank. It was filled with the biggest fish I had ever seen! It just amazed me how graceful these creatures were and I realized how important it was for me to help protect their “cousins” still living free in the ocean.

After what seemed like twenty minutes or so, I decided it was time to see the “big guy.” Walking through the hallway, passing tanks filled with a variety of other animals, I happened to pass the window to the biggest tank. Inside was the star, a giant, spotted whale shark. Gracefully gliding around the tank, he seemed oblivious to me and the many other gawkers who had come to watch him. Also sharing the tank were a number of rays, fish and a shark or two. He didn’t seem to notice. His pace was steady and his mind was free to wander as he swam his endless marathon in this home.

I made my way to the biggest, wall-sized window. I had come at the perfect time, their feeding time. Of course, the “big guy” was the first to eat. He opened his giant mouth and sucked in everything in his path as his pace became faster and more directed. It was amazing to watch him. The other fish were frantically trying to get their fill while at the same time trying to keep clear of his gaping mouth. All I could do is stand and stare. I was only glad that I was on the outside observing and not inside, swimming around in his way.

I was hooked for quite some time before I realized there was a gift shop right behind me. Still enthusiastic about my visit, I decided a nice souvenir would round out the afternoon perfectly. The gift shops were filled with a fun sampling of aquatic-themed goods. Books, postcards and videos, t-shirts, stuffed sea creatures and a plethora of fish-adorned stationery filled the tables. I took my time and chose a bag full of goodies that would help to keep this day in my mind.

Passing large crabs and moray eels on my way out, my mind was reeling with the thought of the wonderful sights I had seen. So far, it had been a great day- and the sun was still hidden behind clouds.

My trek continues next week...

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