Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Today we fly into Okinawa. A short 2 hour flight and we're there. It immediately reminds me of Hawaii, tropical and lush. Two family friends, Masa and Yumi, pick us up and show us the southern part of the island. First stop is a nice Japanese bento lunch. I try to pay the bill, but Masa practically tackles me at the cash register and insists on treating.

We then head to Peace Park, home of the Okinawa Museum and memorial for the thousands of people who died in the Battle of Okinawa. I find the name of my grandmother, Isa Kamado, on the memorial and make a charcoal rubbing to take home. The museum exhibit is a sobering reminder of the atrocities that took place on this tiny island. I now understand why mom never speaks of Okinawa. We buy souvenirs. Lots of Okinawan Shisa lions and t-shirts. Again Masa insists on paying for everything. Whenever we pull out money, he protests violently.

Masa and Yumi are phenomenal hosts, gracious and accomodating. Even though they speak no English and we speak no Japanese, we find a way to get through the day and have a good time. They take us to a Korean barbecue restaurant in Naha city, and Masa introduces me to what he calls "Samurai Sake". Turns out Okinawa has their own version of Japanese rice wine. About 120 proof. It hurts me. This time, Teena attempts to pay for our meal. And Masa covertly arranges to have her credit card charge reversed. He's a tough one. Yumi's brother, wife and their impossibly cute daughter drop by and drive us to Camp Foster, as Masa is no longer in driving condition. I nap in the car, buzzed and happy. I like it here. Tomorrow we take an aerial tour of the island.


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