I always hear the traditional Okinawan folk music some place nearby when I’m at work. It sounds peaceful, solemn, oracular. I know somewhere in this island, some of the locals are either kneeling or bowing down their heads to honor spirits. When the new year starts, the rests of the world light fireworks while Japan welcomes it with quiet worships to shrines, temples, or even domestic. The poets are writing haikus as another New Year tradition. Cities of Okinawa may be flourishing with modernity, exposed with American influences, or bustling with their daily work, but there is a definite serenity in the air. There’s an old woman sitting down on a bench, looking at trees or the green grass at the park. There’s a kid rolling his bike’s wheels down the streets. There’s noodles boiling on the stove waiting to be served in just a few minutes. A Japanese girl is giggling, barely laughing. They’re conservative, reserved, and polite. It is considered rude to play loud music in public. Except during festivals, or when thundering taiko drums are booming by its beats and the performers yell out “Ha ii yah”. Even then, it’s something of a ritual. Okinawan traditions are still in tact, and continues in a routine basis. The true Okinawa lifestyle can never stripped from it. The slippers are left on the doorsteps, bare feet touching the wooden floors. The old will remain. The leaves of the trees in the jungle areas will continually sing with the wind. That sound of Okinawan instrument, sanshin, plays fluidly with the nature’s sounds. There really is a certain tranquility feel enveloping this island.
Naha and Nago are in opposite ends of Okinawa. There are definite comparisons to both, but they are not completely opposite. One can experience both sides of the spectrum in each end.
Nago (North) is much closer to nature while Naha (South) is more concreted.
This is much to what Japan is about. It’s a land of juxtaposition, a country of great contrasts.
After having so much fun during our spontaneous joyride adventure to Cape Hedo, the northernmost end, it was only a matter time that I explored a planned trip to Cape Kyan, the southernmost tip of Okinawa. The irony couldn’t be any funnier. Our serendipitous exploration to Cape Hedo was smooth while our planned trip to Cape Kyan turned out to be a series of disastrous mistakes. To cut the story short, we had a map but we just couldn’t find make our way there. It was an adventure nonetheless. Although, it really worried me that we may not find it in time. The sun was starting to set. The cloud was getting gloomier. Luck did find us and we rolled to a stop before everything gotten dark.
Even though it was planned, none of us really knew what we were going to expect to see when we got there. Due to time constriction, we didn’t get to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was within our sight. So close! We particularly got to Gushikawa Castle Ruins. Instead of the lighthouse, we saw small caves.
Last Calls …
This side of a more tranquil Naha shares a grim historical part of the Battle of Okinawa. Some of the final bouts of Battle of Okinawa took place here, and where many Japanese soldiers and civilian jumped off the cliff committing suicide.
- Cape Kyan -
- Taken from Battle of Okinawa Memorial Site -
I can almost hear quietude screaming its lungs out.
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