Old World Wisconsin, Ryukyu-style

Day two of our Naha adventures led to another beautiful day. One of the highlights of our vacation was the hotel breakfast buffet. Typical American hotel buffets consist of odd-looking “scrambled eggs” and “bacon”?, and while this one had those items on the Western side of the buffet, the Japanese and Okinawan sides of the buffet were a dream come true. More types of seaweed than a girl could dream of, along with miso soup and rice. Savory breakfast? Yes, please!

Grandma's breakfast

OK, enough with the food. For now. But what was also great about the breakfasts was that most mornings, 10 or 11 of us would converge around a large table, drinking coffee (better than any hotel coffee I’ve had in the US), eating our various plates of food, and just spending time with one another. Since we were with my husband’s side of the family, I hadn’t met everyone, or, in some cases, hadn’t seem people in two or seven years. And on vacation, how often is everyone up, showered and dressed at 7 a.m.? Here’s another example of where the time difference worked in our favor.

This day was the second day of being happily chauffeured and we headed to the Old World Wisconsin of Okinawa, Ryukyu Village. As in much of Japan, there is a rich history of the land, and the islands south of mainland Japan, Okinawa being one of them, was once part of the Ryukyu dynasty, which reigned for five centuries. Buildings transported and reconstructed were on site, with people in traditional dress.

A little redhead troll, icon for the theme park

We had a personal tour guide, with our cousin often serving as translator. We watched the water buffalo nap, saw live musical performances, and walked and rested along the way.

I find it difficult to read maps, no matter the language

The highlight? The theme park’s version of “old time dress up.” Instead of Western gear or yore, we were put into kimonos and robes.

Goofy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely.

Miss Red, while resistant, complied for a few precious minutes.

Miss Red

Murmurs of “kawaii” (cute, in Japanese) rang out.


It was also here that Miss Red fell in love with Shisa, or as she started calling them, “silly monsters.” Shisa are on most buildings in Okinawa and are a common souvenir sold in shops. We happily let her pick out a tiny pair to bring home. For the rest of our time in Okinawa, she pointed out the “silly monsters” whenever she saw them.

Wishes posted on a hut.

After another full day, we retreated to our hotel rooms. Grandma, husband, Miss Red and I headed to dinner on our own. Tired, she fell asleep on the three-block stroller ride back. Tired, I fell asleep immediately upon putting Miss Red to bed.

How did Miss Red do in Japanese restaurants and a Okinawan wedding? More on that tomorrow.

– MD


2 thoughts on “Old World Wisconsin, Ryukyu-style

  1. Has Miss Red seen the Sid Boyum Fu Dog Lantern in Yahara River Park? Fu dogs are not exactly the same as shisa, but it probably close enough for a toddler.

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