Getting lost for a while in the mountains, thinking we could beat traffic, my trusty driver from Texas (Rusty), spotted this scene. So, we pulled over and snapped a few shots of the sun.
Wherever it was shining, it never hit us. We managed to miss it all day.
Here's what we ran into as soon as we parked the car and entered the walkway leading to the mountain. It was an international conglomeration of festival goers. Look. I think one guy was all the way from Italy.
And the first thing you smell isn't people. It's all the chicken yakitori (chicken on a stick) and soy sauce cooking on charcoal fires. But, there was a mountain to climb so, I didn't eat.
The stairways going up the mountain must be made for people with smaller feet than mine. I had to stretch my legs and go up two at a time. I have no idea how many steps they have but, I know I'm not in any hurry to go back and try it again today.
If you really need to know how many steps there are, maybe, somebody from Wikipedia can tell you.
Or, ask a kid. They count stuff like that.
Everytime you think you have reached the top of the mountain, you find more stairs to climb. In front of that concrete lantern is a cherryblossom sprig. The red, white and blue balls you see strung out above everything are paper lanterns. They're made by Orion Beer Company, my favorite beer, just in case you ever want to buy me one.
See that girl with the umbrella? She must have popped into a dozen of my pictures while I was trying to compose a great shot. I kept this one, only because she wasn't moving and, she was a little bit cute.
But, I really don't like girls in my pictures, especially when they've been rained on.
I'll go back someday and get you a good picture when she's not there and it isn't raining.
Did I mention it was cold ? Well, here you go. It was so freakin' cold they had a snowman and kids in winter clothes playing in the snow. It's not supposed to snow on my tropical island.
They imported the stuff or had a machine making it.
I've never seen snow here, before but, I'm glad they had it to keep the kids busy. It's hard to pick your nose when you're busy making snowballs. Ever notice that ? All kids should have snow.
This was the best part. They had sleds and trails with snow on them. People were lined up, waiting to hop on a sled, or whatever they call those things.
They were having a blast. It reminded me of the Swiss Alps.
Only thing was, I kept looking around for the ski lift so I wouldn't have to walk all the way up the mountain. They didn't have one.
There weren't any blue skies to shoot but, I wanted to get some pictures away from the crowds and found this suspension bridge. This is another shot I'll have to go back and try on a nice sunny day.
Nago City and the bay are down below the cherryblossomed railings on the bridge. That'd be the East China Sea out on the horizon.
I killed some time here waiting for sunset. I zoomed with my lens a few times and as far as I could tell, the Chinese were staying on their side of the ocean. So, don't worry. I'm always checking.
This is what I was waiting for. The sun went down, the wet girl that kept popping up, must've got cold and went home and I got to set up right in front of the stairs.
The guy with the cell phone camera was holding still and I caught the whole scene with half a second on my camera shutter.
All I had left to do after that was get a close up shot of a Cherryblossom (桜) or two and I'd be happy.
The freezing, the cold, even the rain didn't really matter. Everybody on that mountain had a good time. The Nago City Cherryblossom Festival in Okinawa, Japan only happens one weekend out of the year. It's a special event and worth some sore muscles to climb that mountain. I've got a picture to prove it !