After checking into my hotel I was surprised at how easily I had gotten downtown and to my hotel. Usually just getting to the local city from the airport is a several hour long ordeal where I lose the rest of the day. (Not always, but often) I decided, since I still had a ton of time, to find out whether there were any cherry blossoms happening yet. I had decided if there were any, whatsoever then I’d take a cooking class the following morning. If not then I’d take a two hour long bus ride up north to catch a cherry blossom festival. And in my heart of hearts I was hoping for the cooking class.
After a bit of research I settled upon checking out Yogi park. Which according to Google Maps was a “Lush public park with play equipment, a locomotive on display & an annual cherry blossom festival.” I wasn’t going to be in town for the annual cherry blossom festival, but that didn’t mean they weren’t starting to bloom yet. The park was about a 14-15 minute walk through the markets which I found a fun way to get around. They were covered so I didn’t have to worry about sun or rain or wind or anything. I just had to worry about the crowds.
From the corner I came from the park seemed a little intimidating and maybe out of repair. (This was due to the side I was coming from being overgrown along the gates and with a fallen tree. But when I entered the path it ended up being a quiet but semi busy park with some kids playing on the courts and cats. Lots of cats. I also very quickly saw the train. The D51 222 steam locomotive (D51 222蒸気機関車) which seemed to be a favorite spot for cats. A safe spot for them too seeing as the train was fenced in.
My next goal was to find the trees that were suppose to be the ones blossoming. After looking at photos of the area I realized they grew along the Garve river. Most of them were not in bloom. A few were just starting. And they were quite pretty. I wandered along the river looking from tree to tree and taking in the blooms of the ones that were in bloom.
Along this walk I also walked past a couple closed up historical buildings. I had walked over because I heard a cat meowing, a lot, as if it was in distress. I spotted the cat up in a plant growing in the grounds of the building and I stood there trying to figure out if it was possible to help or if me just looking up at it in confusion could possibly get someone else who knew the area better to help. No one else looked at the cat twice and kept walking. Eventually I realized I couldn’t help, there was no way over the fence, and it wasn’t a country that I spoke the language very well, not well enough to explain why I had jumped a fence to rescue a cat. So I apologized and walked away.
Only to hear a rustle and see the cat had jumped out to run down the stairs and meow at me. At that point I felt very tricked and little unsure if it was a cat since no one else in what seemed like a very cat loving place had taken notice of a cat in distress in an abandoned building.
Feeling a little unnerved I hurried back to the busier part of the park and the cherry blossoms, assured that the cat could in fact get out and befriend someone for snacks if it really wanted.
I found another courtyard where people were resting and enjoying the other flowers in bloom. And a lot of other cats hanging around and getting snacks from the locals. It was nice and easy walk through park. Parts of it seemed over grown but for the most part it seemed well loved. I’m sure it’s really pretty once the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the festival happens. Though there are plenty of other flowers in bloom while I was there.
The cherry blossom festival in Naha takes place in mid February. For 2020 this meant between the 19th and the 23rd. The photos of the start of the cherry blossoms that I took in this post were taken on January 24th 2020.