Saturday, June 15, 2013


Our adventure in Japan is coming to a close.  Our computer will be packed up in a couple of days and then it will be a month or so before I see it again.  So, posts will be few and far between until we are settled.

We will miss Okinawa and are excited to have family in our daily lives again.

A Couple First Smiles

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Ryukyu Mura Part 2

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Here are my kiddos with the performers.  There is the Emperor and Empress and their attendants, Kijimuna, female dancer and taiko drummer.

One of the really fun things about Ryukyu Mura is the parade/performances they hold twice each day.  These performances showcase several of the festivals held during the year.  It gives you a quick snapshot of all the fun you can have during the year.

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The first picture is of the Miruku parade.  The guy with the mask is the Bodhisattva of happiness, rich harvests, and prosperity.  

The two female dancers in the middle pictures are performing some kind of harvest dance.  They are holding farm tools and whistling and singing.  The Okinawans are amazing whistlers.

The dancer on the right is performing the Juri Dance.  The performers are holding two wooden pieces in each hand that they click together.
The dance was staged to bring auspicious conditions for a good harvest and profitable business. However, the Juri dance (Juri means prostitute in the Okinawan dialect) has not been performed since 1989, when a feminist group criticized the decadence of the event.  They started performing again in 2001.  Source

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The picture on the right shows the royal party who watch over the festivities.  I love the sheer orange kimono that the
Empress is wearing.

The next two pictures show the Shi Shi Lion and his master the Kijimuna.  Legend has it the Shi Shi lion lived on a mountain in what is now Uruma City, and that they were instrumental in keeping devils away and protecting the community.  The Shi-Shi-Mai(Lion dance) is known to have the power to ward off evil spirits and summon the god off harvest and wealth, bringing prosperity to the region, and the tradition has been passed for generations everywhere in Okinawa. Source

Tennyson did not enjoy the Shi Shi Lion getting that close.  They are pretty cool costumes.

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The two pictures on the left I believe show the performers performing the Kachāshī Dance.  In Okinawa, it is often a feature of celebrations such as weddings and victory festivities after Okinawan sumo matches and public elections. Traditionally, the dance is accompanied by the sanshin and drum, and often punctuated with finger whistling called yubi-bue (指笛?).  Source

The picture on the left is of two Kijimuna!

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A few more pictures of the Juri Dance, the Shi Shi Lion and Kijimuna, and the Taiko Drummers (I have posted about them before).

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A street performer entertaining the girls.

**Note for our memory - Grahm decided to be very upset with everyone and would not get close enough to be a part of any of the pictures.  I think he surprised my parents with how stubborn he can be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo Catch Up and a Joke

Joke first:

40 Grahms = 1 Ton

He thinks that is so funny.

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Little Mommy

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Time Outs are rough!
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That face makes me want to hug her so tight...
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...and kiss away all those tears.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ryukyu Mura Part 1

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We took my parents to visit a replica of an old Okinawan village.  The mock village is called Ryukyu Mura.  You can view several old homes that they have restored and relocated to this area.  It lets you see what homes were like 100 years ago, how they cooked, how the rooms were divided up.  It is really cool.  There are several places to see and participate in Okinawa crafts - there is pottery, sugar extraction from sugar cane, and many more.

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In the first picture Jayce, my Dad, and Jason are sitting on the edge of one of the historical homes.  They were very open and simple (I wonder if it was easier to keep clean?).  

The middle picture is of a Tatami Mat.  I was surprised at how thick they are.  These mats were made of a rice straw core and covered with a soft rush straw (wikipedia).  These mats are still used today and are very expensive to replace.  You never walk on a Tatami Mat with your shoes on.

The last picture is of a Banana Spider, pictures never do the beast justice.  These things are the size of an adult male hand.  They are fast and will bite, but not poisonous.

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The top left is another picture of an historical home (and proof I was there).  

The top right picture is of the famous Habu snakes.  They fascinate my boys and creep me out.  They are a deadly pit viper that is native to the island.

The bottom left picture is of Koi fish (Carp).  It was crazy, all you had to do was walk near the edge and they thought you were going to feed them.  They would go into a frenzy, literally swimming (climbing) over each other.  We did feed them a few times, just so we could get pictures and video.

The bottom right is a picture of some yummy treats to purchase.  It is pig face skin in case you could not tell.  We thought the packaging made it even more appealing.

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The top left picture is of a water buffalo.  They use them to crush the sugar cane.  I think that is the purpose of the wheel behind Jayce in the upper right photo.

Almost every where you go the Japanese provide photo ops like the ones in the bottom two photos.  This one depicts the Kijimuna, tree spirits.  There are several folktales about these mischievous spirits, here is a site that has several of them.  Jayce really likes them because of the red hair.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Remembering the War cont.

After we visited the Navy Underground Headquarters we headed to Peace Prayer Park.  Jayce has been wanting to take us there to visit for awhile.  Since the Underground Headquarters was exhibits and a tour, we wandered around the park grounds rather than head inside.  We enjoyed the outdoor exhibits and beautiful park grounds and ended up missing the exhibits inside.

We only read a portion of the 240,000+ names of those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa.  The park grounds are very large and we didn't see all of it my any means.  We obviously need to go back.

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Enjoying the view.

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Walking around the grounds.  A lot of the outdoor exhibits only had plaques with Japanese on them, so we probably missed a lot.  (Tenny has her belly button).

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The boys ran down a long flight of stairs and this statue was down there.  

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There was an entrance to another underground military headquarters.  This was not open to the public for touring, but Jason got a picture so we would know what was at the bottom of the stairs.

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Found a broomstick in this pavilion, so we rode around a bit waiting for them to come back up the stairs.

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Grahm found a stick bug!

The Basic Concept of the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

In late March 1945, a fierce battle such as has rarely been seen in history took place on these islands. The "Typhoon of Steel" that lasted for ninety days disfigured mountains, destroyed much of the cultural legacy, and claimed the precious lives of upward of 200,000 people. The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War. Even countless Okinawan civilians were fully mobilized.
A significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. At more than 100,000 civilian losses far outnumbered the military death toll. Some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while other fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops. Under the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the absurdity of war and atrocities it inevitably brings about.
This war experience is at the very core of what is popularly called the "Okinawan Heart," a resilient yet strong attitude to life that Okinawan people developed as they struggled against the pressures of many years of U. S. military control.
The "Okinawan Heart" is a human response that respects personal dignity above all else, rejects any acts related to war, and truly cherishes culture, which is a supreme expression of humanity. In order that we may mourn for those who perished during the war, pass on to future generations the historic lessons of the Battle of Okinawa, convey our message to the peoples of the world and thereby established, displaying the whole range of the individual war experiences of the people in this prefecture, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. (LINK TO MUSEUM)