AMERICAN MILITARY GUYS ON THE ROCKS -- Enjoying a Day Off at AHA FALLS by LAKE AHA
Here you are given a good reference for gauging how big / how high these falls really are. Not very. But, the flow is wide and strong, and follows an unusual path through the rocks.
AHA FALLS are easily beaten in height by HIJI Falls, TAA Falls, and many others. --- but none of those offer the "professional" size and depth of SWIMMING POOL, the ease of access from the parking lot (only a 5-minute walk in via the new switchback trail that supersedes the old killer ravine entrance), a double falls system (Upper and Lower --- each with their own pools), a big rope swing, and lots of photo fun while picnicking.
WHAT DOES * TANAGAA GUMUI * MEAN ???
The Okinawan Language name for LAKE AHA is Tanangaa Gumui / タナガーグムイ
Tanagaa means "Long-armed Prawn", a local type of Freshwater Prawn --- which is a kind of Shrimp. The lake used to be teeming with them !
Gumui means a forest Lake, or Pond.
For the Okinawans, the focus was always on the lake, and not the falls that accompany it.
So, it was simply an obvious, almost generic thing for the folks down in Aha Village to refer to this place as Tanagaa Gumui --- "The Prawn Pond."
These days, the once abundant prawns are are now largely (or completely) gone.
WHAT HAPPENED ?
When I first came here in 1973, the lake was filled with the freshwater prawns that gave it its name. You could see them all around the edges of the pool, especially in the shallows where light grasses and vegetation overhung the water along the earthen banks. These days, I never see them. It has become a Gumui without the Tanagaa !
"Progress" called for a big dam to be built upstream back in the early 1980s, and the occasional water releases form huge, forceful floods that seems to have washed out the pond so many times that the poor little Tanagaa have never recovered. I hope that humans will eventually re-stock the pond from other nearby streams where they still survive. Until then, LAKE AHA is a more honest name for the place than TANAGAA GUMUI.
From THE PRAWN POND to LAKE AHA to AHA FALLS.
The American Military --- especially the Marines --- who have been coming here to swim and relax for well over 50 years, simply called it LAKE AHA, after Aha Village which sits at the mouth of the river only one kilometer away. Nobody called it "AHA FALLS".
At some point in time during the last 20 years, when HIJI FALLS and TAA FALLS started getting more media attention as a place to climb, swim, and play, and the idea of Okinawan Waterfalls being a destination activity even for the Okinawans and Tourists (which it never was prior to those years) saw LAKE AHA get listed in the "FALLS" category, rather than the "SWIMMING HOLE" or "LAKE" category.
HOWEVER....as of 2012, due to the number of accidents befalling the Okinawan and Japanese tourists, the tourism department of Kunigami Township has stopped promoting Tanagaa Gumui, and has already dropped the location completely from some of its tourist maps !.
They realize that word-of-mouth will keep the U.S. Military and their families coming there as they always have, and that it is mostly on U.S. Military property to begin with. At the same time, they hope that the numbers of accident-prone Japanese showing up there will drop to the point where they become as rare as the long-armed "shrimp" for which the fine little Lake is named.
♥ FULL PHOTO SET and MAIN CAPTION HERE : www.flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/sets/72157630539746956...
タナガーグムイ 国頭村 国頭 沖縄県 安波 沖縄 タナガーグムイ植物群落 安波滝 安波湖 湖 池 滝 Lake Aha / Aha Falls
RANDOM SOBA : www.flickriver.com/photos/24443965@N08/sets/