Recently, I decided that it was time to knock off one much-anticipated tourist attraction off of my Okinawa bucket-list: Pineapple World. "What on earth is Pineapple World?" You might ask, well, it is literally a theme park about Pineapples. If there is one thing I've learned about Okinawans, it's that they are very passionate about this prickly fruit.
When we first arrived to Pineapple Park, we hopped on a trolley decked out in pineapple decor that took us from the parking lot to the entrance. Judging by how absolutely adorable the trolley looked, I knew we were in for a treat. Also, for how dead everything in Okinawa seems to be almost all the time, this place was pretty packed. We happened to be the only American's in the park though which always makes for an interesting, more "authentic" Japanese experience.
First thing on our agenda was the walking tour through the park. It started by taking us through gardens which grew multiple different types of pineapples. One species grows hot pink (forget what they are called) which were definitely my favorite. The tour also provided us with some history about Okinawa and pineapples. Below is the abbreviated history that I found off of Pineapple Park's website.
"In 1492, after Columbus discovered the New World, pineapples spread out all over the world. They called the fruit "a gift from the New World (referring to South America)". Pineapples were traded during the Age of Discovery, and then they reached Europe, the African Continent, and Asian islands. It is said that the first time pineapples reached Okinawa was in 1866, when young plants that came from a wrecked Dutch ship offshore of Ishigaki Island were washed ashore to Kabira Bay. In 1927 in Okinawa prefecture, (*1)smooth cayenne pineapples were introduced and planted in Izumi, Motobu town. In 1935 in Ishigaki Island, the full-scale production of pineapples was started by Taiwanese settlers."
Next, we were lead into a labyrinth of staircases and pathways which were surrounded by vegetation. Pretty, although the plants were almost all unrelated to Pineapples... I felt like we went from Pineapple Park to Phipps Conservatory real fast. Tiny arrows lead Ben and I on this twisted pathway for what seemed like forever, especially considering that by this point it was unbearably hot and humid. Moral was getting a bit low until finally we were lead into an air conditioned room....
All of a sudden we were in a museum about SEASHELLS. This is where Ben and I began to give each other that "what the hell is going on" look as we briefly looked through the mini museum. I will admit, they had some pretty cool seashells, but this was such a bizarre curve ball that it was a bit hard to get into.
Next stop, and undoubtedly the best stop, was the gift shop. Most people would avoid a theme park gift shop like the plague, in fact I'm usually one of those people. However, at this particular theme park store we were given sample, after sample, after sample of pineapple cakes, bread, cookies, pancakes, juices, and WINE. I was in heaven. I ate so many pineapple treats that my lunch appetite was killed and I was guilted into buying some pineapple wine (which is amazing by the way). Although this place was extremely odd, the free samples really made it worth visiting.
Our last stop at Pineapple Park was the trolley ride. We entered an absurdly long line to ride one of the mini pineapple cars. Ben and I weren't totally convinced that this would be worth the over 25 minute wait, but we figured that if the line was long it probably meant that the ride was good. During the duration of our time waiting in line we listened to Pineapple Park's theme song and music video on loop. It consisted of little Okinawan girls dancing around the pineapple park which was adorable, but THE SONG. It was a very squeaky, high pitched song with a chorus that went " p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pineappppple" which is still stuck in my head at this very moment. I will never forget the pineapple song, for better or for worse.
Eventually, we boarded a pineapple cart which drove itself through the park which was legitimately 5 minutes long and showed us exactly what the walking tour did. Lame. By the end of the ride we were certainly ready to go. Although this trip was very bizarre and somewhat scam-y, Ben and I left which huge smiles on our faces. We both agreed that we didn't regret this "cute fruit scam," although we will most likely never be back!
We're Kara, Ben and baby Zoe also known as the Lesniaks. We’re a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Yorktown, Virginia after a three year tour in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together!
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