Walk that goat! Okinawa’s Bios on the Hill

Have you ever heard someone say, “If you don’t like the weather in [name of city], just wait a few minutes, and it’ll change”? I have. In fact, I’ve heard this same expression used to describe Chicago, Los Angeles, Valparaiso (Indiana), and parts of Texas. As if these were the only places with frequently changing weather, or that expression only belonged to that region. Here’s what a Google search popped up:

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The interwebs (yes, I call it that from time to time) claim that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) first said this about New England, although I can neither confirm nor deny that statement!

Exactly.

Exactly.

I suppose the same expression could be used for Okinawa, but you’ll never catch me saying it! I dunno, it’s just a bit overused. And yes, contrary to all the magazine-cover-worthy beach photos you’ll find online, Okinawa has a constant mix of sunny and rainy days.

But right about now. . .

the funk soul brother!

Ummm, tangent! Ha! But you’re welcome for that 90’s flashback. Wasn’t it DA BOMB?

What I was going to say, was right about now, the weather in Oki has been steadily getting warmer–this weekend was balmy, with a touch of cool wind here and there. It’s definitely not scorching-sweaty-this will be my third shower today weather just yet.

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Good day, sunshine!

But then came the storms just a couple days later.

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You didn’t think that perfect weekend came without a cost, did you?! Sorry, kid, there are no free lunches. . .

So unless people on Oki suffer from a bad case of agoraphobia or homebody-itis, most everyone tries to get outdoors and enjoy the island(s) when it’s gorgeous outside. Beaches are popular, of course, because they’re everywhere–these are islands, after all. But the many outdoor parks are also well visited.

Some friends and I checked out Bios on the Hill in Onna Village last weekend, a cross between a botanical garden, a petting zoo, and a kids park. Indeed, it brought out my inner child:

Although it might seem that the pure joy of swinging would make me this happy, I'm actually laughing at the fact that I "swung crooked" and bumped the side of the tree. What a klutz!

Although it might seem that the pure joy of swinging would make me this happy, I’m actually laughing at the fact that I “swung crooked” and bumped the side of the tree. What a goof!

 

The high concentration of tropical flowers made it oh-so-fragrant. How I wish I had smell-o-vision to share that sweet, au naturale aroma with you!

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This is what you wish your bathroom actually smelled like, instead of that artificial perfumey spray that burns nostril hairs (and brain cells, I’m sure!).

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There was a guide with different flower names, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t remember them. So I give them my own names. These ones: giraffe skins.

We’re in Asia, so, dragons.

that drool, or rather, drip water. . .

Beware the three headed dragon hedge! Their drool has the capability to instantly–quench your thirst. It’s just water. The gardener was just here, hosing ’em down.

You can smell, but it you get too close, the mythical wooden dragon might just snatch you up!

You can smell, but if you get too close, the mythical wooden dragon might just snatch you up!

And, we’re at a botanical garden, so this garbage can:

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What garbage can? All I see are hedges and grass.

And, we’re in Japan, so this:

A Japanese toilet. Also known as a "squatty potty" (guess why?!). Also known as "hell on earth for non-squatty potty-raised women who have to go." If you think women take too long in the bathroom as it is, count on multiplying that time by 5 if they have to use one of these.

A Japanese toilet. Also known as a “squatty potty” (guess why?!). Also known as “hell on earth for non-squatty potty-raised women who have to go.” If you think women take too long in the bathroom as it is, count on multiplying that by 5 if they have to use one of these. Fortunately, Bios also had “regular” toilets.

But back to the fun stuff. Have you ever been to a petting zoo where you can not only pet them, but walk them too? You’d never be able to do this in sue-happy America–too much (perceived) liability!

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It was love at first sight. These goats (most of them) were really sweet. They’d make great pets. So long as they didn’t eat all your stuff.

I’ve never been so close to goats–there’s usually a fence separating us, so this was the first time I really got to see their rectangular pupils. A bit freaky! (Ok, or not. Leave me alone–I’m a bit of a city slicker, ok?!)

Why are you looking at me like that?

Why you look at me like that?!

 

This little goat was pretty kawaii:

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and got vocal when we started to walk away!

I think he wanted more attention and petting. Of course, once I turned on my video camera, he got quiet. Isn’t that the way?

And the best part–feeding them leaves!

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Mmm, fiber-y.

One of the popular Japanese “toys” we found were these wooden stilts, that come in lots of lengths for all different ages. You’re supposed to hold the poles in front of your feet, but many new to this challenge find it pulls you forward too much, and try to hold them at the side instead. The highlight of the day was watching two of our competitive friends try to race each other on them–both fun and funny–even the Okinawans were giggling!

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Almost. . .

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Yes. . .

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Eh, no. . .

And then there was the boat ride. Unfortunately, my Japanese was nowhere near competent enough to understand the tour guide, so we Anglophones definitely missed a lot. Okay, we missed everything except the only English he used: “poison tree.” Uhh, what?

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Besides that, because of the language barrier, the tour was a bit “meh” for me, and it was a chance for B to catch about a 20 minute nap. We saw some flowers, some ducks, some kayakers. A water buffalo napping. Okay, I know it’s pretty cool to see a water buffalo, but we had already seen some in the park!

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With ropes through their septums. Or septa, if you’re going to get grammar Nazi on me. Yeesh–that looks painful. PETA would have a field day, I’m sure.

But this Okinawan dancer was interesting to see along the river. She was just out there by herself. Dancing/moving really slowly. I know it’s for the tour, but isn’t that a little creepy, or is it just me? Probably just me.

After the tour, there was more playing with stilts, until the wooden water guns were discovered. . .

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And once the majority of our group was good and wet, we moseyed on down toward the exit, and came across this cute rabbit.

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And then this totally awesome gift shop!

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With its own greenhouse full of gorgeous flowers and plants for purchase:

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Honey bee heaven.

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“Come at my flowers, bro.”

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So perfect, I had to feel to make sure they weren’t fake. I wonder how long they’d last if I took them home?

And even a Venus Fly Trap!

"Feed me, Seymour!"

“Feed me, Seymour!” If you don’t get that joke, you are either too young or I am showing my age. I’m going with both.

I didn’t even get a chance to look at everything, but I did fall in love with these:

 

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I thought these were handkerchiefs, but they’re actually hand towels. Pretty, but also “takai” (expensive).

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Ohhh man. Shisa hand towels. And you call yourself an Okinawan bathroom?! Not without these babies!

And I even gave B the puppy dog eyes so I could take home one of these, which I hadn’t seen anywhere on island before!

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Colorful stuffed animal shisa?! Totes kawaii!

Bios was definitely fun times–I’d go again, but skip the boat tour, and next time also swing in the hammock, and play on this “every kid’s dream” tree house:

 

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Oh, all right, I’ll admit it: I still want a tree house like this!

Bottom line: if you don’t leave Bios on a lovely sunny day looking this smiley. . .

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. . . then you’re doing something wrong!

 

What are your favorite outdoor parks, and what do you like so much about them?