The Ryukyu Kingdom unified the Okinawan Islands and ruled Japan beginning in the 1400s. Its mariners and traders were known all throughout Southeast Asia and South Asia, gaining clearance to sail into China’s ports during the Ming Dynasty.Then Japan asked Okinawa to go to war against Korea, and Okinawa refused to avoid friction with their close friend China. So Japan conquered Okinawa in 1609 and took the Ryukyu king back to Edo (ancient Tokyo) for a couple years before releasing him. So Okinawa came under Japanese control but was able to retain some autonomy thanks to its previous state as a Chinese tributary. Japan and China had no diplomatic relations, so to take Okinawa everyone had to pretend it was just a close relationship. Until the late 1800s when Japan just annexed it. Even before the annex Okinawa’s prosperity was dampened by the fact that the Japanese pirates that had terrorized trade were in decline and other countries could trade for themselves. This is also about the time European trade infiltrated the area. Sorry, Okinawa. Nakijin-jo is a walled ancient living and working area crowing a hill in the Nago area of northwestern Okinawa. The peak commands wide views of the valley below as it runs to the ocean. It was really really quiet and the entire site smelled like April. I don’t know how to quantify ‘April’ smell, it’s just how April in Texas smells. Warm and round and like summer vacation is just around the corner. Ahhh!I’m glad we saw it yesterday, because today is windy, cold and rainy. I offered to take a group picture for some Japanese kids and half of them were wearing really excellent Engrish shirts, like “I heart my chick. You are still green.” This cat sleeping near the entrance in the old stone wall reminded me of Pounce so I stopped and scratched his head, then saw a Mouse-colored kitty later curled up sleeping in the sun. I miss my kitties! Wasn’t that a boring post about the Gusuku Sites and properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu?!?! I’ve been nervous all day waiting to see whether flight #8 would get canceled or should I just fly home? A flight left for Atsugi about an hour before the flight to Hawaii…but it’s the same flight to Hawaii that keeps getting canceled. My plan was to try for the Hawaii flight, then if it didn’t work out again, to get up in the middle of the night to try for another flight to San Francisco. Around 2pm this afternoon I found out the San Francisco flight had been pushed back yet again and wouldn’t leave until Thursday. I felt sick to my stomach as I watched the people boarding the flight to Atsugi, wondering if I would regret not joining them. An hour later they announced that instead of 10 seats to Hawaii, there would be 40. The atmosphere of the air terminal tangibly lifted. Instead of squinting around at everyone else, the waiting passengers all relaxed, smiled at their friends, and people who hadn’t dared to talk or hope communally brightened. I counted the people going forward and I would have been 9th or 10th I think, but this way it was a group victory and I didn’t have to slink out beneath death stares from desperate would-be passengers. We’re set to take off in about an hour!!! I HAVE A BOARDING PASS TO HAWAII IN MY HAND!!!