Nov 23, 2017
Graduation trip circa 1965
She went by train down to Kagoshima. Just around the year when the bullet train was picking up speed and carrying its passengers from the measly 6 hours to a mere 3. Misses S took her most memorable trip in celebration of graduating university down to Okinawa. From Kagoshima, she then went by ferry to Naha.
It doesn’t seem to matter the year, graduating university deserves celebrating and taking a well needed vacation to a new place seems to be the most appropriate of traditions. Even back in 1965, after four years of study, S-san made plans with her friend to travel to Okinawa. To her it was like going to a different country, because it was a different country. After the war, Okinawa was under United States control, and for Japanese to enter, they needed a passport. Nowadays this seems shocking. Even to misses S. she told me and laughed at the absurdity of it. As if Okinawa hadn’t always been a part of Japan. But even she knows that Okinawa has a rich history and was once a sovereign state with a king. It was once the kingdom Ryuukyuu. It has more influence from China and some of the other Asian countries than from Japan itself. Miss S even pointed out that it is geographically closer to Korea than most of north Japan. Even so, after Japan regained control in 1971, Okinawa has fully become part of Japan. Back in ’65, Misses S went through her first customs check. After 28hours spent on a ferry, she wasn’t very excited to continue to wait longer to explore her new surroundings. The ferry ride wasn’t all awful. She had been particularly amused because she could see the water line above her head in the windows, below deck where her one tatami sized rented space was. Like any poor college kid, she had bought the cheapest second class ticket. This meant shared space with several others in just one large room below deck. A pillow and a blanket on tatami. It was probably like having to sleep on a yoga mat. So her and her friend spent most of the voyage upstairs. Now, in 2017 you are more likely to be traveling by plane to Okinawa, which wasn’t an option for her back then, but you can still find ferry rides that’ll run you 20,000 yen for second class. Back then, the only planes she saw were from the United States air force. The US bases are still a big focus for Okinawa and have a great influence even on the current culture. Kokusai Dori, ie international street, was just as happening then as now, at night lighting up with bars and partying. But misses S was more excited to tell me about the pineapples and sugarcane. She had visited a pineapple farm in the northern part of the island. She also went to Shuri castle. Well the gate, because the castle had yet to be rebuilt. But her biggest site to see was Himeyuri no Tou. It is a site created in memory of the nurse's unit that was formed from the woman's school during World War II. Now there is a full monument erected and museum, but she didn’t need them to know the horror that is war. In the year she was born, her uncle had perished in the battle of Okinawa. This trip was more personal than just a vacation somewhere, as I’m sure it was for everyone still so close to the time the war had ended. Her biggest souvenir, was a rock for her father in memory of their family member from the same beach he had fought. Okinawa is a place that should always be remembered for its past. S-san will never forget her time on the beach in March, the weather perfectly warm enough to swim. Even after 50 years, she still had the same amazement and awe of the tiny island as if she had gone last year. I'm sure even now, Okinawa will be a place so memorable, everyone who visits will be left with everlasting memories.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too