Published: December 20th 2010December 19th 2010
Well, this is it, folks. My last day in Okinawa. Probably. That's the thing - you never know with the military. As it stands right now, Chris is off to Afghanistan in the middle of March after spending February in America for combat skills training. This means I'm checking out of Okinawa for good and will be heading back to Ohio. I think I'm going to sub, hang out, etc, and then go somewhere fun for the summer. We should still be moving to Dayton, Ohio in September sometime.
But anyway, back to the fun stuff. Since we knew we were quickly running out of time to see the island, we signed up for a few activities. We went on the Battle of Okinawa tour, which took us all around the island to look at various sights. We sort of knew the basics of the battle, but we didn't realize how absolutely awful it was for the Okinawans. I'll skip the gory details, but suffice it to say that the Japanese soldiers were brutal and considered the Okinawans to be an inferior race, and the Japanese in general were brainwashed to believe that it's better to die (or kill yourself)
than be captured by the Americans. We saw the Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters, caves where the Okinawans hid for months on end, and ended the day at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.
Last weekend, we went to Uruma City for bullfights and eisa dancing. Here in Okinawa, it's bull-on-bull action in the ring...which is actually much more exciting in theory. The bulls didn't seem all that into fighting each other, so they mostly locked horns and pushed each other around a bit. It developed as a way for farmers to make some money during the winter season, so I can only imagine how boring winters were here. There was eisa dancing between the fights, which is a traditional Okinawan dance involving various types of drums. It started out great and soon ended up with little kids wearing metallic costumes and dancing to techno-pop eisa music. There were also little kids in furry costumes running around pretending to be guardian spirits. So unbelievably cute!
I took a kimono class, which was basically picking out a kimono and an obi (the sash) and having a professional dress us (you can get certified in the art of kimono). My kimono
was (of course) purple with a bright pink obi. It only took about ten minutes to dress me, but she was good at it and it was an informal kimono (you can tell it was informal because the neckline of the undergarment is colorful and not white). The ideal for a woman in a kimono is to have a completely straight figure - no curves and completely flat-chested. Apparently they sell special kimono bras for binding and flattening. Well, she managed to eliminate my curves when view from the front, but there was nothing to be done about my chest. I guess I'm just not cut out to be a traditional Japanese girl.
I finished teaching the little monsters on Friday, and we had a big Christmas party. I managed to rope Chris into dressing up as Santa, and the kids had such a great time. We managed to survive the two hours of chaos and the ate dinner with the owners of the English school. They made our favorite Japanese foods - gyoza for me (garlic and pork dumplings dipped in soy sauce, vinegar, and spicy oil) and Okinawa soba for Chris (buckwheat noodles in a broth with
pork ribs and fishcake). After dinner, Mr. Nakachi pulled out a bottle of vodka he bought on base (the Japanese don't drink vodka) and had his first ever taste of it. Pretty soon, he and Chris were mixing vodka, 7-Up and awamori (Okinawan sake). They kept pouring each other drinks and ended up beyond drunk and only speaking in Japanese. They've invited Chris back for dinner and vodka once I'm gone, so at least he'll have someone to keep an eye on him, haha.
Enjoy the ridiculously cute photos of my students, and happy holidays, one and all! :)
There are more photos below