So Wade and I woke up a few weekends ago determined to go snap some awesome cherry blossom photos. Well maybe that was my goal, taking flower photos isn’t really Wade’s niche. He would much rather take completely unflattering photos of me! Regardless, we packed up our gear, tripod and step stool to make sure
we I could get that perfect Sakura (Cherry Blossom) shot. The sun was shining, windows were down, Nelly was blasting on the radio (also not Wade’s niche). We got off the highway, headed towards Mt. Yaedake. The mountain’s road is lined with hundreds of Sakura trees and is stunning when they are all fully bloomed. We made sure to go after the festival the week before. The Japanese love Sakura. Not only are the flowers stunning but the history they have carried throughout their culture makes this festival one of the busiest of the year. Sakura signifies spring for them. Renewal, the start of a new growth season, a time to get outside and enjoy nature. So to avoid being locked in bumper to bumper traffic going up a steep narrow mountain, we waited a week.
Anyways we are driving, driving; it takes about 1.5 hours to get there. The sky turns a little grey, no biggie. We keep driving and driving. We start to see cars coming with lights on. My heart drops. The sky is a deeper grey. We start driving up the mountain. Driving and driving. Though grey, the skies are holding their shit together. We park near the top of the mountain jump out with our gear. We make it, oh, about 150 feet from the car and guess what happens. It rains! DUH! Of course it does. We tuck our camera’s in our jackets and run back to the car.
Okinawa hasn’t been too cooperative this winter but man, can I get just one sunny weekend day! Oh well, so Wade and I decided to wait it out. We did drive all that way after all. After sitting and listening to some Mastodon (Wade’s niche) we went down the mountain to investigate the area. Long drives, rainy weather, mid afternoon low. The sign for small café didn’t have to be too spectacular to tempt us. We turned down a mountain road thickly lined with forest trees. We dodged the tree literally growing in the middle of the road and parked.
Hakoniwa is a simple café tucked in the back roads of Motobu. Hakoniwa translates to miniature garden. With the weather we didn’t check out the garden but inside was perfectly peaceful. The large windows, small lights and comfy furniture provided at Hakoniwa makes it a perfect place to sit back and enjoy the rain with a good book or enjoy some tea while a strange girl to take lots of photos of you drinking it with your friends. We chose to sit at the counter seating against the back wall of the restaurant. The back of Hakoniwa is tucked along the side of a steep earthen ledge, providing an amazing tranquil sitting area, especially in the rain! You are surrounded by beautiful green ferns and moss. The drops hitting the leaves and the smell of the wet earth just added to the simple environment of the café. Hakoniwa’s owner, Kaori, hunted for the perfect location and was thrilled when she came across this old home in the woods. I think she couldn’t have found a better match for her minimalist café.
You immediately feel warmed and relaxed when entering Hakoniwa. While being seated you are given some hot green tea and a menu with the choices of the day which are all created with local ingredients. Hakoniwa has some traditional Okinawan vegetable dishes, perfect for a vegetarian, or vegan guest. That being said their main focus seems to be cake and coffee. Each dessert is served with fruit and a homemade berry compote. All food and drinks are, in true Okinawa café fashion, served in Okinawa pottery. This is one of the little things that I love about Okinawa, all aspects of putting together a restaurant are thought of with Okinawa in mind. The ingredients, the buildings, the dinner ware. It is a beautiful community.
We didn’t have any lunch but we did devour the perfect amount of caffeine and sugar to endure the ride home. Driving out of Hakoniwa café, with the rain hitting the windshield steadily, we agreed the Sakura photo adventure would have to wait one more week. My itch to take photos was scratched by this café and it’s guest rather than the Sakura. All of which were lovely.
What are some things you discovered when the weather changed your plans?