Thursday, March 29, 2012

Up to their Eyeballs (Irises) in it

(Click on individual images to enlarge)

I had the opportunity to go up to Kijioka in Ogimi Village along Okinawa's Northwest coast earlier this week. Kijioka is one of those little sleepy looking farming communities that dot the Okinawan coast line. Up here, things just move a little slower than they do for the rest of the world. 
Kijioka is located along Hwy 58. Heading north toward the Okuma Recreation Center or Hiji Falls in Kunigami Village, you'll find it after you pass the Ogimi Michi-no-eki, (Rest Stop) but, before you get to the Yui-Yui Michi-no-eki and the turn off for the other two tourist traps I mentioned earlier. One of the things that Kijioka is known for is the bashofu weaving museum. When you see that sign along the highway, that will be your signal to turn off the main road.
Once you get off the main road and wind your way back toward the farm fields, you'll see the valley open up to reveal all the fields. Find the river and follow that back a few hundred meters till you see the iris fields like the ones pictured here. They don't look like they're quite in full bloom just yet but the next few weeks should see this field of green transform into a sea of blue and purple flowers.
Of course we went during a week day so we expected to see some of the older folks working the various fields, tilling the soil and planting their gardens. What we forgot was that this is also the traditional end of the school year in Japan so all the children were out and about doing what kids do in the countryside. It looked to be that at least one of the farmers here had some of the kids we saw somewhat employed going about the fields and picking some of the flowers. Of course irises need a lot of water so the soil in the iris fields is quite soft and muddy. A little too much so for an adult like myself to successfully navigate it.
But these kids were having a blast as they toiled away. They seemed to make everything they did a game. Later on when I got home and downloaded these pictures into my computer, I saw how their heads were just above the tops of the flowers and it reminded my of the punchline from a very funny, but at the same time very-very sad television commercial (link). I don't remember how many years ago that commercial first aired but it was well before the first economic meltdown of 2008 and it was practically prophetic!

The commercial is about your typical American family living in the rat race way beyond their means and in spite of all it appears that they have, they're barely able to scrape by. How did they maintain their opulent lifestyle? They did it by being buried to their eyeballs in debt! Then I thought about those kids running through the iris fields not having a care in the world and thought to myself, who's the real winner here. The jackass in debt up to his eyeballs or the little kids pictured here up to their irises in it? I think that the answer is obvious!

By the way, the irises up in Kijioka should be in full bloom over the next few weeks. If you have a chance and the weather is nice, I suggest you take a minute to step out of the rat race and enjoy some of the simpler things in life. Wake up and smell the Irises for a change.