Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tanaga Gumui Plant Community

Posted by Tsukasa Hellinger   
    Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, and as you might imagine, the summers here are blistering!  When most people think of Okinawa, Karate Kid, spectacular beaches, and tropical fish are probably the first things to pop up in their minds.  However, few people know about Tanaga Gumui Plant Community.  This is an area in Kunigami Village designated by the government as a natural monument.  The area is inhabited by several species of plants that only grow here.  
     In addition, there’s a waterfall there that is fed by Aha River.  At the base of the waterfall is a basin where the water collects.  So why am I writing about this?  That’s right; to help you escape the heat!  The water at this lake is cold, so on a scorching summer day, taking a dip here is so refreshing.  It’s located in a jungle like area, so it’s also a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
      Getting there is a bit of an adventure, so put on your Indiana Jones action gear and watch out for habu, a venomous snake in Okinawa!  Once you park your car, you’ll walk down a path through the woods leading to the lake.  Before reaching the lake, you’ll also have to rope your way down a sharp slope.  What?!  That’s right; ROPE your way down, Indiana Jones!  I recommend you bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty because the soil there is clay. 
     Once you’ve made it to the lake, prepare to get wet.  There is a rope hanging from a tree branch at the edge of the lake.  Use it to swing yourself out and take that first shocking cold plunge, Tarzan!  Next, to generate a little body heat, swim to the other end of the lake where the pristine waterfall is.
     Now, as you can see in the photo, I climbed to the top of the waterfall.  (This can be dangerous, so take precaution.)  At the top of the waterfall, there is a shallow stream and large rocks to rest on.  The rocks are heated by the sun, so it’s so relaxing to lay on them after making that frigid swim!  
    Guess what?  Now you gotta swim back, climb back up that steep slope, and watch out for habu snakes before going home!  Don’t worry; it’s worth it.  Besides, most people need the exercise and to experience the feeling of being a kid again, eh?  Trust me.  Once you’ve gone there, “you’ll be back,” Terminator.