“Have you ever been to a flower festival?” a friend asked me. I was sort of surprised when I realized I hadn’t. There are so many great festivals like the Lily Festival here in Okinawa. I had heard about this one on IE Island recently (it runs from April 22-May 7 this year), but had forgotten to put it on our bucket list. Thankfully we have great friends who invited us along on the short trek off island. They have three littles also, so we were a nice big group!
We left from Motobu Port in Nago, which is just about an hour north of us in Okinawa. The ferry leaves port every hour on the hour during Golden Week. Golden Week is a special week in Japan chock full of holidays. It starts on April 29th with Showa Day, which was originally the Emperor of Japan’s birthday. Then May 3rd is Constitution Memorial Day and May 5th is the widely celebrated Children’s Day. Many businesses also close on May 1st for May day, and also May 4th, so you end up with about a week of festivities. Schools close down and families celebrate by visiting some of the fun sights around island.
It also means crazy traffic, so we were lucky to miss a lot of that by getting out early on Sunday morning, the 29th. We had prepared ourselves for a very busy festival, but were pleasantly surprised when that wasn’t the case. The day was perfect – sunny and calm, and the ocean was so still it looked like glass. Thankfully, the sauna-room-heat of island summer has not quite made it here yet.
The ferry was really fun. Cliff had been talking about going on the “Fairy Boat” all week, and was pretty pumped. We did have to explain to him that it had nothing to do with the Tooth Fairy (who has been making regular rounds to our home lately).
The ferry trip took about half an hour and before we knew it we were walking onto IE island, making our way to the buses, which would take us to the festival grounds.
It was just a few dollars per adult for the bus ride, and 15 minutes later we were there.
The fields of lilies were enchanting. Everywhere you looked there were different sizes and colors of lilies, and the fields seemed to go on forever.
The kids chased butterflies and Olivia found some bugs to play with.
Some of the kids went on a short horse ride. There were several different food vendors at the festival, with many choices, from chicken nuggets to noodle dishes and ice cream. The water was expensive, so next time we’ll pack in more. We ate at the covered picnic tables and listened to the twanging music at the tent next door, as Japanese women dressed in kimonos and danced with lilies in hand.
Our kids were a bit grumpy that day – they had been up late the night before, which isn’t something we allow often. And we were reminded why! But it was still a fun time.
After lunch we walked farther along the path and saw the fields of colored lilies.
The sea salt air smelled fresh and made me stop and take it all in a little more.
It was a perfect peaceful island, and we were thankful to be able to explore it. I think it’s a place we’ll come back to – maybe for some beach camping. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!