A Hike To Hiji Waterfalls and A Visit To Cape Hedo, Okinawa

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I love the life of a traveler and I feel so happy and blessed…
It is so heart warming to be able to meet some of the lovely and helpful people we share the earth with…

This morning Komaki again prepared for us a delicious feast with different local specialities, but this morning because of the rain, we ate it in our room.

When we checked out of their guesthouse, Kenny and Komaki asked us to come over to their house for a chat.
They said they can help us with ideas about exploring Okinawa.

In their living room, their baby girl Joy, was crawling on the floor, gurgling and playing with various toys, while their little boy Rukai, was pretending to be a Samurai, play-dancing with two swords made from rubber foam.

There is a beautiful custom in Japan, to offer gift to departing guests or customers.
Sometime the gift is something small, just a token of appreciation and gratitude, and sometimes the gift is something useful. (we got gifted socks, a scarf, a towel, etc.)

This morning Kenny and Komaki gave us a most welcomed gift.
I LOVE to drink a lot of green tea during the day, and while we stayed with them, I mentioned to Jules that they use a very good quality green tea.

Green tea in Japan as well as in China, is made in local small enterprises, and many regions compete for being the best.
The knowledge of how to dry and to process the tender green tea leaves into a delicate tea, is a wonderful craft and if done skillfully and lovingly, can produce superb aromatic teas.

On the other hand, tea leaves that are processed in large batches, and are not treated with care, can develop some mold, be too dry or devoid of flavor.
Green tea is all about freshness that brings to mind a forest path, or green rice fields and gentle dew…

The tea that Kenny and Komaki gave us, is loose tea leaves, and they added some beautiful rice paper tea bags, for us to fill when we wish to brew the tea easily.

The same gift-giving tradition, is done in weddings around Japan as well.

While we are accustomed to showering gifts on the marrying couple, in Japan the guests are those who leave the wedding party weighted down with gifts… But they have to leave very QUIETLY…

This is another charming old tradition in Japan….Guests who are attending a wedding ceremony, must never mention words of departure or separation in any way.
It is believed that any mention of separation, will bring bad lack to the couple.

Thus when it is time for the guests to leave the wedding party and to go home, they just drift away without saying goodbye.

This made me think of our modern day custom of presenting and signing prenuptial agreements before weddings, which has become so common in our modern cultures.

The idea that in a marriage and in a love relationship, the couple can share a life, a bed, bodily fluids, a common destiny and their hearts……… but are NOT willing to share their money……shows you where their priorities lays….

Anyway…..
To ours great fortune, another gift that Kenny gave us, was a book that he wrote about exploring Okinawa.

Since the day was supposed to be rainy and stormy, we made plans to visit places that are undercover.
We planned to visit the new regional museum, to see the world famous Okinawa Aquarium, which is second only to the one in Atlanta Georgia… Etc.

But Kenny had other suggestions for us….
On his advice we headed north on route 58, to see Cape Hedo, which is located at the northernmost point of Okinawa island.
Along the way we stopped at the village of Kunigami, and headed to the mountains for a long and beautiful hike inside a tropical forest, to see a powerful waterfall named Hiji Falls.

The entrance to the park offers picnic tables for families, in an idiotic setting by the river, which is alive with fish.
But being a Japanese picnic area, it had spacious low platform sitting areas, instead of table and benches.

A swing bridge took us over a gushing river, and we stopped for a panoramic view of the surrounding lush mountains.
At those moments, I stood there feeling grateful and so filled with awe at how perfect all of creation is….

All of our personal dramas and daily trials and tribulations…. and all of our unhappiness, comes from our discontented egos…

In Truth, everything is already PERFECT…. And yes, this includes YOU and I….

It is only because we are unhappy with certain situations and wish to change our lives all the time, that we do not realize how EVERYONE around us and EVERYTHING around us IS already perfect exactly as it is…

The forest path was very well maintained, but it was VERY steep and very slippery, making this hike a challenging yet most enjoyable one.

We spotted so many interesting creatures, mushrooms, insects and plants…
We must have climbed and descended thousands of steps… And let me tell you, my leg muscles still ached, two days after this hike.

The rocks were dripping with moss and I was able to recognize many of the tropical plants varieties that grow in New Zealand, but do not grow in the tropics of the Americas or Hawaii.

It did not rain, even though we brought our rain coats with us, but the threat of rain kept the tourists away…
We did this tropical hike all by ourselves.

Deep inside the forest, we stopped to listen to the “music of the forest,” which was like being in a modern classical concert….
We listened to the sound of the river and the powerful waterfalls, mixing with the calls of birds, and the song of insects… And the tree brunches swaying in the wind…. It was truly magical.
The forest felt so alive around me….

Cape Hedo is an amazing spot at the northernmost tip of Okinawa island.
From there, you can enjoy a panoramic view of both the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, while you are standing on the 230-foot-high cliffs.

The wind was blowing fiercely and nobody but us was around, which gave the place an almost mythical feeling.

We checked into Sunset Beach guesthouse after dark.
The room we got is a tatami mats room and the shower is also traditional…it offers a low wooden stool to sit on, while you scrub yourself.

We ate a great meal in a neighborhood restaurant offering traditional Okinawan food.
The menu was hand written entirely in Japanese, but we were able to order some very good food.

A Japanese lady sitting next to us, volunteered her services as our interpreter and proceeded to translate the daily offerings for us.
We thanked her for her help and friendliness, while she bowed many times and apologized ten times for intruding…
We told her she was NOT intruding but HELPING us…. And that we are very very grateful for her kindness.

Sunset beach house is located right on the ocean, and that night, comfortably laying on a futon mattress on the floor, I let the sound of the waves lull me to sleep…

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