Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This past weekend I went to Okinawa. Although it is part of Japan it is not part of Japan. The flight from Tokyo took two hours and because of the typhoon we had to land twice! Yes, twice! The first time we touched the ground and then took off again because we were rocking too much. It was a little nerve racking. Once there my friend picked me up and we started from Naha back to her place in northern Okinawa a bit more than an hour away. The car broke down and we had to stay near Naha with some friends of hers. The next day we got her car fixed, went to a castle, went to a historic house, and to a haunted hotel. We also went to America Town. The day after that we went to an island, to a school, to the aquarium and had pizza dinner with an excellent view. Then late that same night we went to her adult language class where I got to chat with adult Okinawans in english, pretty much. The next day it was back to Naha where we did some shopping and walking around and then the next day I came home. How is that for a short sweet description?
The trip was really nice. It was nice to see my friend again and it was nice to go to Okinawa. I'll just mention in detail a few things that really stuck out. Okinawans do not look like mainland Japanese. They are taller, thicker, and darker. Probably from the influence of many of the Pacific islanders over a long time. The jungle is noisy. When thousands of bugs and animals are competing for the same small space they tend to make some noise about it. The ocean is beautiful. When I went to the aquarium I saw three whale sharks at one time! Plus a lot of other marine life was observed. Whale sharks and named such because they are big and vegetarian. They are actually sharks, but not the type from our nightmares.
America Town had an uncomfortable feeling to it. Its where all the service men hang out. It used to be part of the base but was given back to the Japanese. Now there is a lot of American businesses and franchises there so many of the service men go there. I did not feel comfortable. There are a lot more foreigners on Okinawa and a lot of them are military. Locals don't exactly like the military being there and I don't blame them. I wouldn't want them in my town either. Another friend of mine had an ecounter with some AirForce men this weekend and it was also not pleasant. In a way it makes me sad. Young men from America, mostly with nothing better to do and not a lot of education, sign up for the military in some capacity then get shipped around the world being stuck in situations they are not accustomed to. It's dangerous, which I guess is the point.
Pods will be posted, so keep checking the pod site.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Everyday around 330pm our school stops classes and everyone, everyone, cleans the school. They students and staff sweep, mop, scrub, wash blackboards, tend the grounds, you name it and it is done. To signify the start of this they play A Whole New World over the PA system. Everyone lines up in the hallway a few things are said and then we meditate. I suppose we are supposed to be thinking of our connection to each other and the school, but I am not sure. After the meditation we break and clean for about 15 minutes. A lot of the students try to avoid working, especially the older ones. The linger in corners or just stand in doorways. I clean maybe every third day. It is a good way to talk to the kids and to show that you are with them. I just don't like the actual cleaning. At the end of the time more music is played, we line up again, there is a status check broadcast over the P.A. and then we meditate again before breaking for after school activities. I had heard about this before I came, but nothing compares to actually seeing it. The schools usually don't even have someone to clean for real, they just do it themselves everyday.