- Ishigaki Island: Climbing the Spectacular [Nosoko Mape]
- The Restoration of Okinawa, Revival of Koza, and the Light of Hope
My First Okinawa
post : 2020.01.08 20:00
It’s been eight years since we relocated to Okinawa, and six years since we joined Okinawa CLIP. Thanks to this site, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit various places, including numerous outer islands, for interviews and photos. That said, there are many other places where we’ve always wanted to see and visit, but still haven’t.
Relatively more than other areas, we often report on various things in the northern Yanbaru region of Okinawa Island, but we still haven’t come across a Yanbaru Kuina, a flightless bird and endangered species only found in the norther part of the island. When driving, we’re very careful as Yanbaru Kuina are known to suddenly appear on the roads. But we’ve never come across a single one.
Then there’s Manmi, a restaurant specializing in pork dishes. At a year-end party we attended some time ago, photo writer, Aya Asakura told us about this place and said that we “really must go there” and yet, despite really wanting to, we’ve still haven’t had the chance. There are also a number of outer islands like Iriomote and Taketomi that we still haven’t visited.
Okinawa we haven’t visited. Okinawa that we still haven’t seen. Last year, when the Japanese era turned from Heisei to Reiwa, we were able to come across a few “My First Okinawa” experiences.
My First Okinawa Part I: Shikinaen Garden
Coincidentally, something came up that I had to run regular errands near Shikinaen Garden recently, and on one of the visits, I thought, “Come to think of it, we’ve never been there,” and decided to make a visit. When you make your way along the peaceful, shaded path lined with various plants, you’ll find a hexagonal structure at the center of the pond where the garden surrounds. Is this Okinawa, Japan, or China, I thought. The garden was a fusion of elegant garden culture of East Asia. It had a different atmosphere compared to major tourist destinations, and the feel of the surroundings really refreshed me. I became very comfortable in the peace and quiet of the garden and liked it very much. It was a place that made me think I should have come sooner. I have a pretty good feeling that I’ll be going back there again.
My First Okinawa Part II: Yonaguni Island
I had the chance to visit Yonaguni Island for work, and this visit too, was my first time. What I enjoyed and remember the most is seeing and getting close to the Yonaguni Horses. I had preconceptions that horses are very sensitive and don’t often come near people, but as I focused on my photographing, I looked up and saw that I was surrounded by them.
“Scratch me!” The horses seemed to by saying as they lifted their heads and leaned in. I wanted to spend the whole day there petting them and I didn’t want to leave the farm. Yonaguni Island was wonderful, a place where I want to return with my family and take our time really getting to know and enjoy the island.
My First Okinawa Part III: Sakurazaka Central
A famous “live house” in Okinawa, offering live performances by various artists. I’d been to Sakurazaka Theater nearby to see movies, but I’d never stopped by here before. Then, I found out that one of my favorite artists, Shintaro Sakamoto was performing there in December, and I thought, “I have to go!” Although I knew my chances were slim, I gave it a go and entered the draw, and lucky for me, I was able to get tickets. It was my first time in a live house in ten years, and my first time in Okinawa. I was a little nervous going in, but the atmosphere inside was somewhat nostalgic, with a distinctive air that such establishments that have been around a while tend to have.
Inside, it was packed full, and the performance was just fantastic, and it really was an excellent live house. When other favorite artists are performing here, I definitely want to come back again.
Okinawa continues to show us new things, no matter how many years we’ve been living here. It’s understandable that many people repeatedly visit the islands, attracted to the charms. I wander what new things we’ll come across in the New Year. The year 2020 is getting us excited already. We hope that you’ll have a wonderful year!
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)