With only four hours before our flight back to Haneda I decided to return to Shuri for some unfinished exploration. Hiro headed up to the hotel top floor hot springs for some quiet time before heading home. We agreed to meet at Naha airport with enough time to shop using the rest of our Go to Travel coupons.
I took the monorail to Shuri and first walked to Ryutan Pond near Shurijo Castle. This park was established in 1427 during the time of King Sho Hashi. It became a Prefectural Cultural Property in 1955. During the king’s rein, they held Dragon boat races on the pond and an annual banquet to welcome the Chinese trade envoys. My interest was in the unusual looking waterfowl, also known as the Muscovy duck. I had seen them before in Southern U.S., but these were my first to view in Japan. The ducks like ponds in forest areas as they nest in the tree cavities. I walked right up to them for my picture taking and they did not seem at all afraid.
Just a short walk from Ryutan is the UNESCO World Heritage Tamaudun Mausoleum. It was built in 1501 as a burial place for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Consisting of three chambers, the left for kings and queens, the right one for prince and princesses, with the center one used for recently deceased bodies undergoing a ritual bone cleansing. After paying a small entrance fee of 300 yen, you will be directed downstairs to a small museum for an overview of what the mausoleum looked like before the war. You then are free to stroll the grounds for a view of the closed chambers and a small guard house with various pictures and sketches of the mausoleum.
Back to Shuri station onto Naha Airport. My first order of business was finding some food. Up on the top floor is Sandwich House Gourmet. Found a nice spicy chicken sandwich that hit the spot. Now I was ready for some shopping. My wife had requested Okinawan black sugar and black vinegar as my Souvenir to her. I found both and still had some Go Too Travel coupons left. Hiro purchased a Bottle of Habushu (viper snake) sake, an Okinawa specialty. Miwa and I took the tour of that brewery back in 2009 during our honeymoon. I did not have the guts to try it back then and still not now.
Had a smooth flight back to Haneda with a great view of Fuji-san before landing.
There were many attractions that we missed in Okinawa, which warrants a return trip in the near future.