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Summer Spots 1999: Northern Okinawa

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-08-07

Nago Pineapple Park

Nago Pineapple Park is not surprisingly a museum dedicated to pineapples, a product grown widely in “Yambaru,” northern Okinawa. At the park, a tour is a good idea, and visitors can jump on a cute pineapple-shaped cart and cruise around the pineapple field. (Narration by the tour guide is in Japanese only.)

The park is particularly well-known for its sweet pineapple wine and the wine-bottling process can be observed at the winery, which opened in 1992. After gaining some knowledge about the winery, the best part is not far away - free wine tasting!

The park's original wine, named “Lagcima Del Sol,” literally “Tears of the Sun” in Spanish, can be sampled in sweet, dry, and super dry at the Spanish-style wine hall. The “Lagcima Del Sol” is made from 100% Okinawan pineapples. The image of three suns on the wine label is called “Tres Caras,” or “three faces” in Spanish, and each sun represents joy, love, and wrath with a prayer for the awe and the respect for mother nature.

Pineapple pieces are also on offer. Also, the ever-exciting Habu vs. Mongoose Battle Shows are performed daily, for a small fee.

Open: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. 365 days of the year.

Directions: Take Route 58 and head for Nago. Remain on Route 58 until you reach the crossroad, turn left at the traffic light (you'll see a toy shop ahead of you.) Then, go straight for about five minutes and you'll see the Nago Pineapple Park on your right.

Yambaru Anettai-En (The Yambaru Subtropical Garden)

“Yambaru Anettai-En” is an ideal spot for those who just love to get back to nature. Just a few minutes drive from Route 58, this magnificent subtropical world is a must-see.

“Yambaru” signifies the area in northern Okinawa and means “mountain” and “field” in its literal translation. Here a variety of plants and animals can be found.

Inside Anettai-En, more than 100 types of plants including approximately 80 varieties of orchids and 20 different species of butterflies, 40 species of insects, 30 varieties of fruit trees can be found. Without doubt Yambaru Anettai-En is a virtual showcase for these very unique plants and creatures which inhabit the northern part of the island.

If you're lucky, you might even come across the Ryukyu Yamagame (turtle) or Noguchigera (bird).

Until Sunday August 22, a Stag Beetles Catch can be enjoyed inside the Garden. A raffle will also be held where a Ookuwagatamushi, nicknamed the “Black Diamond” for its shiny ebony wings, will be presented to one lucky child. Admission fee for the catch is ¥380 for adults and ¥200 for children. Each beetle costs ¥800.

Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. (No entry after 5:30 p.m.)

Admission: ¥430 for adults, includes children over 12 years old. ¥230 for children under 12.

Directions: (Refer to the directions for Nago Pineapple Park above.) Once past the Nago Pineapple Park go straight along the road for a few minutes. You'll then see "Yambaru Anettai-En" on your right. Parking is to your left.

Dacho Land (Ostrich Land)

Dacho Land is an ostrich farm that opened in Nakijin Village about two years ago, and was the first of its kind on the island. At the farm, approximately 70 ostriches, from the newly born to mature ostriches, are raised and visitors can get up close and personal with these wonderfully gracious African birds.

The site’s cute ostrich babies, from three to six months, run around inside the small fence and visitors can pet them and take photographs. However, mature ostriches are quite strong and are kept behind a large fence.

Dacho Land’s restaurant offers Ostrich Steak at ¥1500, a low calorie meal high in protein. For ¥10,000 you can dine on an ostrich egg, roughly 25 times the size of your local egg!

Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Open 365 days of the year.

Directions: (Refer to directions for Nago Pineapple Park) Once past Nago Pineapple Park make a right turn at the third traffic light. Enter Route 72 and go straight along the street. After going through two tunnels you’ll come to a crossroad, make a left turn - you'll see the post office ahead of you - and enter Route 505. Go straight ahead for about five minutes. You'll see a sign with a picture of an ostrich on your left.

Ookuni-Rindou

If you wish to just drive around and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Yambaru, "Ookuni-Rindou" should be added to your travel plans. "Ookuni-Rindou" is simply a new path through the mountain in Okuma, Kunigami Village. For nature lovers in particular, driving through "Ookuni-Rindou" will surely be a comfort. As soon as you enter the narrow path, vivid greens fill your car window and the leaves offer visitors a pleasant shade. On the way, there are several spots where locals come to fill empty containers with cool, clean and refreshing natural water from the river. The water here is well-known and popular among locals for its odorless and smooth taste. However, just to be on the safe side, it’s perhaps best if you’re new to the island and not quite accustomed to local water supplies to boil the water first.

Directions: “Ookuni-Rindou” is located near the Okuma Resort Hotel. Take Route 58 and head north. After passing the entrance to the Okuma Resort Hotel, look for the tire shop on your right, then make a right turn. Enter the narrow road and go straight ahead, where you’ll soon find the entrance to “Ookuni-Rindou.”

A Word of Caution: 1. Avoid going to “Ookuni-Rindou” after heavy rains, mudslides and falling rocks can present a real danger. 2. Always drive carefully. There are some hidden corners and curves, and 3. The water from stream is used as drinking water. To keep the river clean, please take your trash with you.

And please remember, the only thing you should leave behind after a walk amidst these beautiful areas is your footprints! Please don't litter!

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