Ukwanshin Tour 2012: Returning Back “Home”

Excited and anxious tour participants left Honolulu on a very pleasant flight on Hawaiian Airlines to Osaka.  However on our arrival into Osaka, we were 45 minutes late due to late departure from Honolulu, and the strong headwinds into Osaka.  We originally had a little over one 1 and 1/2 hour to connect to our JAL flight.  We ended up rushing in and out of customes, as the JAL agents called for us to hurry and re-check the bags for the connecting flight, and that the check-in counter will be closing shortly.  We were literally running through the doors of customs to check the bags in then go to the gate.  We made it all on, and could finally relax and be on our way to Okinawa.  Upon our arrival we were met by our friends, Chihiro, Mashi, Yukari, Yoshio, Shunki, Etsuko, and Yasuharu.  It was so nice to see familiar faces to greet us as we were all feeling the time difference catching up with us.

Our first day started with our traditional visit and prayers at Tamaudun, the Royal Tombs in Shuri.  During our prayers and song “Meekata”, the group felt a rush of emotion and some kind of connection or realization which I think brought everyone to the reality of some kind of purpose to the tour.  We then went on to Shuri Castle and had an early lunch where we enjoyed traditional Okianwan food in an old samurai class house of Shuri.

After our lunch we returned to the castle’s Ryutan Pond area to watch the Shuri Ryukyu Kingdom parade.  Here we saw how it might have been when the king processed through the streets on the third day after the lunar new year.  The weather was very nice and the cool breezes carried a little chill , especially if you stood in the shade.

After the parade, we visited Kwanyin temple where some of the group members bought omamori.  We then returned to the hotel to rest after a long day, and to catch up on our time and reflect on the day, and what it means to be here in the place where our ancestors came from.