Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Orchid Show in Progress at: Tropical "Day" Dream-in Center (Photo Essay)

What do guys know about flowers? This is not intended to be a sexist or male bashing remark but the fact remains, most of us guys know very little about flowers. I know to get my wife roses on her birthday, St. Valentine’s Day, etc. I think I even wore a carnation in my lapel when I got married but beyond that, I think that most men know very little about flowers.
Point in fact, years ago when my nephew was visiting Okinawa, being thoughtful and wanting to be respectful, he stopped at the local super market to buy my wife a small bouquet of flowers. What he didn’t know, nor did I at the time, that most of the flowers you can buy at the local market here on Okinawa are intended for use with the Bhutsudan. That is the family altar found in most Okinawan homes. My wife was pleased and really appreciated the gesture. It was after all the thought that counts.

So back to my main question, what do we, guys, know about flowers? We know that ladies love them. We know they’re expensive, they’re pretty to look at, they don’t last very long, and for those of us who’ve tried to grow them, we know how hard it is to care for them. We have a growing garden at our house and I know from first hand experience the effort it takes to make a garden look nice.
Personally, I’d much rather grow lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, papaya, bananas, or some other fruit or vegetable that I can eventually eat. With the economy going to hell in a hand basket, we may all have to rip up our lawns and start growing veggies! Unfortunately, my wife, who has the final say in such matters, would rather grow flowers.

So when the love of my life drags me off to the botanical gardens or even to the local garden center, I have a new found appreciation for all the effort that all those nameless and faceless people put in to grow and display them for us.
One place that many people here have to go see is the Okinawa Expo Park in Motobu. Of course there is the mandatory visit to the Churaumi Aquarium. That place is just Guinness Book awesome. There is also the very entertaining whale and dolphin shows. Perhaps if time allows, you’ll even a stroll through the reconstruction of an old Okinawan village. For those of us who’ve been there already, we’ve seen the signs pointing to a place called the Tropical Dream Center.

The name conjures up visions of a beach resort with beautiful people enjoying the sun, listening to Jimmy Buffett tunes over the sound system, and sipping on a Margarita. To my dismay it’s only a botanical garden that your wife or girlfriend will just have to see that us guys are obliged to go with them or face excommunication.
Don’t fret gentlemen; it’s not a total loss. Sometimes there are events such as concerts and flower shows in the main event atrium. There are the reflecting pools filled with Japanese Coi. Lastly there is the observation tower where, on a clear day, you can see some fantastic views of not only the immediate area but the distant lee islands to the north. If you’re a camera buff, this is a great place to see, get some pictures for the family or to send back home during the winter months and gloat over how warm it is here.

To get to the Expo Park, just get on the highway and follow the signs to Expo Park and the Churaumi Aquarium. As you enter the main entrance of the park, go down the steps to the fountain. From there go to the left and follow the signs to the Tropical Dream Center, you can’t miss it. If you’ve got little ones in tow its advisable to take a stroller as the park is quite large or for 200 Yen, you can ride the trolley.
There is a fee to see the gardens of the Tropical Dream Center but, it is relatively inexpensive when compared to other attractions around the island. The adult fare is 670 Yen. Throw in an Orchid flavored ice cream, maybe a soft drink and if your lucky, a free concert. Not too bad for your money. It’s a small investment that is likely to pay off big dividends later. By the way, the annual orchid show is going on now through Sunday the 13th of February.

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