Okinawa the Sequel

Yesterday, I had talked about my trip to Okinawa back in July 2009. There was so much to cover that I decided to write a sequel covering Days 3 and 4.

During the third day on the island, for the most part, most of us were used to the food, used being on on a bus, and the other members of the tour group. As I said yesterday, our group was part of a larger group. I should have mentioned that because our family had only 7 people, and the hotel rooms had only twin beds, it was originally thought that I would have to share the hotel room with a stranger. However, that other family decided to double up, or “hot bunk” as they say in the Navy, I had the room to myself. I vaguely recall that that family had two girls and a boy so I suspect the two girls shared one twin bed and the boy on the other.

Our first place we visited on Day 3 was to a series of underground caves. These caves were not dark, not scary, because we all worked on a path that had lights. We could touch the waters dripping off the rocks.

Our next stop was the Okinawa Cultural Center. This was probably up my alley, more so than the food. As a historian, I like to look at the artifacts and go ‘huh’. Why would they make that? Why did they use materials? This is not in judgment, but true pondering. Case in point, the Okinawans built wooden, single mast vessels:

Okinawan vessel

Another thing I learned was that the Okinawans chose the lion as their totem animal. Okay, this sounds innocuous, except there is a problem. To the rest of Asia, the apex predator is the tiger. Why did the Okinawans choose the lion? Hmmm. I suspect what we forget is that Japan is not as homogeneous as we think. For example, there are aboriginal Japanese in Hokkaido, just as some of the southern Japanese probably had more genetic ties to Korea and Taiwan. The Okinawans must also have had cultural contacts with the rest of Asia and on the Silk Road of the Seas.

Dinner for Day 3 was a seafood hotpot. By now, I’m used to the special chicken dinner while the rest of my family gets to enjoy the full range of seafood.

I was fine because I happen to like Japanese chicken teriyaki.

On the fourth and final full day, we were taken to a fisherman’s wharf and market where the daily catch was sold. One of the things that caught my eye were the boats. I am no sailor but I am interested in maritime history.

Now, I don’t read Japanese at all so I am guessing the names of the fishing boats based on the common characters with Chinese. The center boat’s name looks like the word for “peace” and the right has the words for “sea dragon”. If you are Japanese or fluent in Japanese, please comment below with the correct translation.

What we really came for was the fresh sashimi – so fresh that it was caught that morning.

Our last full meal – more Japanese BBQ!

Then it was time to go home. It is a five hour plane ride from Okinawa to Hong Kong where my aunts live. With nothing to do (the in-flight movie does not count), and this was well before I had a smart phone with Amazon Kindle/ Google Play Books, I took pictures of cloud formations in the Pacific ocean.

I would definitely go back and visit Okinawa – probably on a tour. Again, I don’t speak Japanese and have only one Japanese friend and she and her husband probably will not be traveling with a sixteen month old daughter any time soon. (And there’s COVID-19 concerns).

Remember how I said my initial interest in Okinawa was based on World War 2 history? We Americans have a huge fascination with WW2 and we are still airing new documentaries with new information. From a more cynical perspective, it was the last war Americans clearly won and that it was clear who the good guys were. However, when I go to Asia and study their perspectives on World War 2, I see a different perspective – which is expected because their experiences were different. Thus, the historian in me starts digging, but more on that later. For now, I just want to reminisce and look through old family vacation photos.

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