Ok­i­nawan Phrases

Escape! Malaysia - - Cover Story -

Ok­i­nawa Chu­raumi Aquar­ium

The Chu­raumi Aquar­ium of Ok­i­nawa con­tin­ues to be the pride and joy of Ok­i­nawa due to its mas­sive Kuroshio ex­hibit and ded­i­ca­tion to ma­rine bi­ol­ogy re­search.

The Kuroshio sea ex­hibit is said to con­tain up to 7.5 mil­lion litres of wa­ter which are held back by 60 cen­time­tre thick acrylic glass pan­els. Vis­i­tors can of­ten be seen by the droves ap­proach­ing the mas­sive glass pane to take pic­tures of the two whale sharks con­tained within the aquar­ium. The larger whale shark of the two boasts a weight of 5.5 tonnes with a length mea­sur­ing about 8.6 me­tres long. Along­side the whale sharks in the aquar­ium, one can ex­pect to see gi­ant groupers, manta rays, yel­lowfin tu­nas and a host of other un­der­wa­ter ma­rine life. Ap­prox­i­mately 70 dif­fer­ent species of ma­rine life can be found in­side the Kuroshio aquar­ium.

If you’re look­ing to in­ter­act with ma­rine life, the Inoh touch pool at the en­trance of the aquar­ium would al­low you to in­ter­act with gen­tle ma­rine crea­tures such as sea cu­cum­bers and starfishes. The word Inoh in the Ok­i­nawa di­alect ac­tu­ally means “Coral reef la­goon” and housed within these ex­hibits are gen­tle crea­tures which are safe to touch and in­ter­act with.

The Chu­raumi Aquar­ium was once the largest aquar­ium in the world be­fore it was sur­passed by the Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium in 2005. It is lo­cated in the town of Mo­tubu and is ap­prox­i­mately 2 hours away from Naha City.

Shurijo Cas­tle

Rep­re­sent­ing the heart and rem­nant of the Ryukyu King­dom, the Shurijo Cas­tle con­structed around the 14th cen­tury was the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural heart of the Ryukyu King­dom formed un­der the lead­er­ship of King Sho Hashi.

This world her­itage site of­fers deep in­sights into the feu­dal pe­ri­ods of Ryukyu and was the seat of power for the Ryukyu King­dom for about 5 cen­turies. The path to the cas­tle it­self is lit­tered with many sites of in­ter­est for vis­i­tors. Among them are the So­ho­hyan-utaki Stone Gate, the Ryuhi spring and the Bankoku Shin­ryo-no Kane Bell (Bridge Bell of Na­tions). The So­ho­hyanu­taki Stone gate was a place of prayer for the roy­alty be­fore em­bark­ing on im­por­tant jour­neys and has been des­ig­nated as a UNESCO World Her­itage site due to the lin­ger­ing legacy of the Ryukyu King­dom.

Fur­ther up into your jour­ney to­wards Shurijo Cas­tle, in front of the Zu­sei­mon gate, one may also find the Ryuhi Spring which was a source of fresh wa­ter for the royal fam­ily and the Chi­nese emis­saries called “Sap­poshi” to Ryukyu. As a sym­bol of its pros­per­ing wealth and pros­per­ous trade with Asian coun­tries, the Ryukyu King­dom con­structed the Bridge Bell of Na­tions to im­mor­talise its promi­nence in mar­itime trade with the South Seas.

The bell is recog­nised for its in­scrip­tion em­pha­sis­ing the spirit and friend­ship upon which the pros­per­ity of the Ryukyu King­dom was based. The cur­rent bell, how­ever, is a replica of the orig­i­nal 721-kilo­gramme bell which cur­rently hangs at the Ok­i­nawa Pre­fec­tural Mu­seum.

Up ahead past the Houshi­mon gate is Shuri cas­tle which fea­tures a huge court­yard called the kushino-una and the cas­tle’s main hall called the Sei­den. The Una Plaza was gen­er­ally used for huge cer­e­monies in the past like the corona­tion of the king and the cel­e­bra­tion of the new year. Ex­hibits in the Sei­den in­clude the King’s throne room, crown and royal seals which should not be missed for his­tor­i­cal buffs.

The Shurijo Cas­tle con­structed around the 14th cen­tury was the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural heart of the Ryukyu King­dom

Shuri Ryusen Coral Paint­ing

Be in­spired to bring forth your in­ner painter when you visit the Shuri Ryusen Coral Paint­ing cen­tre. Us­ing nat­u­rally beached shaped corals, vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to let their imag­i­na­tion run free to bring forth beau­ti­ful de­signs on ei­ther t-shirts, tote bags, or head-scarfs. Paint­ing meth­ods here are sim­ple. By sim­ply ty­ing down fabric pieces on coral shapes with rub­ber bands, vis­i­tors can im­print mag­nif­i­cent look­ing corals onto the fab­rics with dif­fer­ent mix­tures of colour.

The coral paint­ing cen­tre emerged as an ef­fort to re­vive tra­di­tional paint­ing of the Bin­gata, a tra­di­tional re­sist dyed cloth which was pop­u­lar in the 14th cen­tury. Shuri Ryusen was formed un­der the di­rec­tion of Koto Ya­maoka, a dyer and cul­tural pro­moter of the tra­di­tional art in 1973. Bin­gata dye­ing tech­niques were said to have been de­vel­oped as a syn­the­sis of In­dian, Chi­nese, and Ja­vanese dy­ing pro­cesses. Whether one aims to cre­ate their own ren­di­tion of art in Shuri Ryusen or pur­chase any one of the re­mark­able pieces cre­ated on site by the lo­cal ar­ti­sans, the store is sure to bring a re­fresh­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion to­wards this pre­served art of Ok­i­nawa. Pieces of art or orig­i­nal ki­monos are avail­able for pur­chase at 50,000 yen on­wards.

Himeyuri Peace Mu­seum

The Himeruyi Peace Mu­seum is a stark and gru­elling re­minder of the cost of war when 222 stu­dents and 18 teach­ers from the Fe­male Di­vi­sion of the Ok­i­nawa Nor­mal School and the Ok­i­nawa First Girl School were in­ducted into units at the Ok­i­nawa Army Field Hos­pi­tal. Fol­low­ing the in­va­sion of the US Army into Ok­i­nawa, these stu­dents were forced into har­row­ing work­ing con­di­tions which ne­ces­si­tated them to take care of wounded sol­diers, se­cure wa­ter and bury the dead.

Of the to­tal 240 stu­dents and teach­ers who joined these armies, a re­ported 227 per­ished and only a hand­ful of the sur­vivors re­mained to tell the tale. While nearly 7 decades have

“Of the to­tal 240 stu­dents and teach­ers who joined these armies, a re­ported 227 per­ished and only a hand­ful of sur­vivors re­mained to tell the tale”

passed since the Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa, many of the re­main­ing sur­vivors are still haunted by the hor­ror of the pre-world War 2 mil­i­taris­tic ed­u­ca­tion which drove the stu­dents to serve in the army. To­wards the end of the Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa, due to the in­doc­tri­na­tion of mil­i­taris­tic ed­u­ca­tion, many Ok­i­nawans in­clud­ing the stu­dents them­selves were or­gan­ised into the army corps to wage “a war of at­tri­tion” against US Army forces.

Be­fore en­try to the mu­seum, one should stop by the “Iwa­makura’ stone which bears the work of noted Ja­panese school teacher and World War 2 sur­vivor, Seizen Naka­sone. A Ja­panese poem called ‘Iwa­makura” can be seen carved onto a black piece of stonework which ex­presses sym­pa­thy for the class­mates who per­ished on the un­com­fort­able rocky grounds of the caves.

The Himeyuri Peace Mu­seum was formed as an ef­fort to ap­peal for world peace and to put to rest the souls of those who have per­ished.

Yomi­tan Vil­lage

Es­cape from the cos­mopoli­tan world of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and re­turn to the sim­ple life in Yomi­tan Vil­lage on Ok­i­nawa Is­land. Lo­cated

just 28 kilo­me­tres from Naha City, Yomi­tan Vil­lage and its friendly home­s­tay com­mu­nity will surely draw you in with its agri­cul­tural and cul­tural charms.

The lit­tle vil­lage con­tin­ues to main­tain its an­cient roots es­pe­cially those re­lated to farm­ing and pot­tery. Vis­i­tors to the vil­lage should take the op­por­tu­nity to visit its pot­tery mecca called the ‘Yachimun no Sato’. The pot­tery vil­lage was es­tab­lished thanks to the ef­fort of the late pot­ter Jiro Kinjo who es­tab­lished it in 1972.

Yomi­tan is also known for its pris­tine beaches in Cape Zanpa which fea­tures a 30-me­ter tall light­house. This of­fers an as­ton­ish­ing view that should not be missed.

Ok­i­nawa World

Brave the subter­ranean and cav­ernous path­ways of the Gyokusendo cave lo­cated in Ok­i­nawa World which is lit­tered with spec­tac­u­lar for­ma­tions of sta­lag­mites and sta­lac­tites formed over thou­sands of years. These re­mark­able stone for­ma­tions only grow at a rate of 1 mm ev­ery 3 years. The tem­per­a­ture within the cave is a com­fort­able 21 de­grees Cel­sius and only takes about 30 min­utes to com­plete.

While the length of the path­ways only goes up to about 890 me­tres, Gyokusendo is ac­tu­ally one of the largest caves in all of Ja­pan stretch­ing up to over 5 kilo­me­tres. For those look­ing to jour­ney deeper into the cave, the sum­mer pe­ri­ods from July to Septem­ber would be the best times to visit Ok­i­nawa World as spe­cial cave tours are con­ducted to bring adren­a­line-hun­gry seek­ers deeper into never be­fore seen lo­ca­tions. These spe­cial tours may take up to 90 min­utes long so vis­i­tors should be warned that the trail in­volves get­ting wet and travers­ing small streams and wa­ter­falls. The streams and wa­ter­falls within are said to have taken shape over the pas­sage of 300,000 years. Im­pres­sive blue hued light­ing colours some of the streams to cre­ate a some­what dream like ex­pe­ri­ence for those who ven­ture through.

At the exit of the cave is the famed Ok­i­nawa King­dom Vil­lage which is a replica of a tra­di­tional Ok­i­nawan vil­lage. If you’re look­ing to pick up a lo­cal ar­ti­sanal skill, this would per­haps be the best place to do so with a va­ri­ety of work­shops for glass blow­ing, pot­tery, weav­ing, dye­ing and even snake wine brew­ing. The Ja­panese brew­eries here are ac­tu­ally famed for mak­ing ‘Habushu’ or Ok­i­nawan Snake Wine be­lieved to have cer­tain medic­i­nal prop­er­ties.

Grand Mer Re­sort

A trip to Ja­pan with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence of great tast­ing sushi is akin to vis­it­ing Ger­many with­out en­joy­ing a brew or miss­ing out on Swiss choco­lates while in Switzer­land. Like it or not sushi re­mains an in­te­gral part of the iden­tity that shapes Ja­panese food. Tak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of en­joy­ing sushi to the next level, the kind in­di­vid­u­als at Grand Mer Re­sort have in­cluded the ex­pe­ri­ence of mak­ing it along­side mas­ter sushi chefs who of­fer quick tu­to­ri­als in the prepa­ra­tion of sushi. The fairly sim­ple process first in­volves grab­bing a hand­ful of cooked vine­gar rice and spread­ing it evenly onto a flat sheet of Nori sea­weed. Choice in­gre­di­ents such as let­tuce, salmon, av­o­cado and chicken slices can then be placed on the rice layer and rolled up us­ing a bam­boo roll. The roll is then sliced into smaller por­tions to form sushi pieces. For in­quiries on sushi mak­ing ses­sions, please look up Grand Mer Re­sort at www.ok­i­nawa-grand­mer.com

THIS PAGE BE­LOW The ‘Kuroshio Ex­hibit’ which holds 2 adult whale sharks and 70 dif­fer­ent species of ma­rine life

Sharks and manta rays roam­ing the shark ex­hibit

THIS PAGE FROM ABOVE En­trance to Chu­raumi Aquar­ium

THIS PAGE ABOVE The Una Plaza of Shurijo Cas­tle used for spe­cial oc­ca­sions

LEFT The Royal Seal of the Ryukyu King­dom

The Royal Crown of the Ryukyu King

Coral paint­ing works of art and other ex­hibits for sale at Shuri Ryusen

THIS PAGE FROM TOP A worker from Shuri Ryusen demon­strat­ing how coral paint­ing is done

TOP A tribute stone to the stu­dents who gave their lives in the ‘Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa’

LEFT The iconic light­house of Yomi­tan Vil­lage

RIGHT The ‘Iwa­makura Stone’ which houses the poem of noted WW2 sur­vivor, Seizen Naka­sone

LEFT The wel­com­ing en­trance to Gyokusendo cave BOT­TOM LEFT Fos­silised dear bones to be found within the cave

BOT­TOM OF PAGE Mag­nif­i­cent sta­lac­tite for­ma­tions shaped over thou­sands of years

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