Okinawa: A Year in Review


  “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Well, when I wrote this we had just celebrated our one-year anniversary of relocating our domicile to Okinawa, and although it’s now over two months past due, I still thought it would be a good idea to do a “year in review” blog. So, here’s an eclectic summary of the King’s Flirtations with the Far East to date (as of this past August), along with a personally favorite blog selected for each month.

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July 2013.  Preparations for our overseas move.

See Sayonara Amerika to read and see our Asian-inspired going-away blowout

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August 2013.  Moved!  Rented our Florida home and moved overseas with our cat!

See Jody Drives Naked about used-car shopping in Okinawa.

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September 2013.  Divine winds!  Experienced something like 8 typhoons in two months.

See Surf Nazis Must Die to read about a scuba diver’s angst with the powers that be on Okinawa.

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October 2013.  Scuba Diving!  Kevin becomes a PADI scuba-diving instructor!

See Are You Breaking Up with Me on Mount Fuji for perhaps my favorite breakup story of all time!

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November 2013.  Jody’s birthday!  Celebrated by exploring the northern reaches of Okinawa.

See Shipwrecked on the Island of Misfit Toys about my first foray to Okinawa in 1999.

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December 2013.  Household goods!  Our forgotten “stuff” finally arrives on-island.

See Oh Christmas-Half-a-Tree to read about Christmas in Okinawa.

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January 2014.  Kevin’s birthday!  Celebrated by our first off-island trip to Kyoto, Japan.

See Okinawa Kijimuna for Okinawa’s version of “Red Power!”

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February 2014.  Contracted!  Dive the Blues Scuba gets well underway.

See Surprising Swastikas about an unlikely and unfortunate connection between East and West.

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March 2014.  Earthquake!  Friends breaking bad on Okinawa.

See Cat Cafes in Japan to read about the special bond between the Japanese and their feline friends.

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April 2014.  White Day and Zip-Lining on Okinawa.

See Timeless Townhouse for our rustically historical stay in Kyoto, Japan.

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May 2014.  Iriomote!  Off-island weekend getaway to this remote nature preserve.

See Tainted by Tats to read about the stigma of body art in this corner of the Far East.

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June 2014.  My daughter gets married!  A whirlwind trip home to the states and detour because of an unexpected hospital stay.

See Placenta: Prescription or Placebo to read about some strange herbal remedies popular in Japan.

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July 2014.  Ishigaki!  Off-island weekend getaway to dive with manta rays.

See The Cat-Dogs of Okinawa to read about the special guardians of the Ryukyu Islands.

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August 2014.  Okinawan World and Hospital Caves.

See Okinawan Hillsides & Hornets to read about my past explorations in the Okinawan jungles searching for traces of WWII.

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Shūbun no Hi (秋分の日): Happy Anniversary to my One Wild and Crazy Wife!!


My One Wild and Crazily Beautiful Wife!!

My One Wild and Crazily Beautiful Wife!!

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Love is the only gold.” ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Ride of Our Lives

The Ride of Our Lives

Japanese Marriage Dolls; Almost Caucasian

Japanese Marriage Dolls; Almost Caucasian

An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.  Today is my and Jody’s 2nd Wedding Anniversary.  Yes, we are newlyweds (pretty much), but neither of us are new to marriage…which makes this, our 2nd chance together, more pleasurable to appreciate, and must sweeter to relish.

And although Jody has “Command Orientation” today at work, and we still lack most of our personal belongings, AND our celebratory cat decided to wake us up last night – early at 0430 and often afterwards – in order to voice her happiness in our union (but more likely in the prospects of an early breakfast), the Japanese have actually marked our day as a National Holiday.  And for many of the same reasons.  It’s really an over-the-top gesture for our host country to acknowledge “our day”!

They Probably Have the Day Off...for a Mental Counseling Appointment

They Probably Have the Day Off…for a Mental Counseling Appointment

“Autumnal Equinox Day” (秋分の日 Shūbun no Hi) is a public holiday in Japan that usually occurs on September 22 or 23, the date of the fall equinox in Japan Standard Time.  Autumnal Equinox Day became a public holiday on 1948; previously, it was the date of Shūki kōreisai ( 秋季皇霊祭), a religious event relating to Shintoism.  Kōreisai were days of worship in Japan that began in 1878 (Meiji 11) to pay respects to the past emperors and imperial family members.  After the 1948 passing of the Act on National Holidays, these days were marked in a non-religious manner as the national holidays of Vernal Equinox Day and Autumnal Equinox Day.  During these events, one prayed for good harvest in the spring and expressed thanks for the harvest in autumn.  The equinoxes were also the days of ancestor veneration in China.  Like most other holidays, this holiday was repackaged as a secular holiday for the sake of separation of religion and state in Japan’s postwar constitution.

Jody at the Shureimon Gate, Shuri Castle

Jody at the Shureimon Gate, Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle, our Anniversary Venue

Shuri Castle, our Anniversary Venue

In conjunction with this holiday, on Okinawa there is a Mid-Autumnal Festival held at the historical seat of royalty and government of the Ryukyus, Shirijo Castle.  We attended, honoring our anniversary is this traditional and long-standing Okinawa way, complete with traditional dancing, music, singing, and some level of pageantry.

Anniversary Pageantry, Just for Us!!

Anniversary Pageantry, Just for Us!!

Rich-King Wedding 2011, Route Love signageJody and I selected this rather sacred day of the calendar for our union due to its inherent importance and long history and tradition, like that described above.  The concept of “equal parts,” day and night, as well as the cross-cultural importance and timelessness of marking this particular day resonated with us both and reflects how we view our respective rules in this, our greatest adventure.  And in these ways, I can, during each autumnal equinox, express my thanks for the harvest we’ve nurtured and cultivated together through each spring, recognizing that the majestic circle of life revolves around Love, through equal parts, day and night, love and devotion, husband and wife, respect and honesty, but most simply, man and woman but hand in hand.

Dapper Couple

Dapper Couple

My Toast to Jody on our Wedding Day, September 23, 2011, as true today as it was back then:

“Family, coworkers (mostly ex-coworkers I guess), skydivers, bikers, friends, friends of friends, and additions of my newest family members, I energetically welcome you tonight, and humbly thank you for taking your time to celebrate with me and Jody.”

6317316640_3be5d90de1_b“A favorite quote of me, and if you look around, you can see that I really like quotes, is, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Isn’t that the question for all of us?  Isn’t that central to what our respective journeys are all about?  ‘Your one wild and precious life.’  Thank about that for a moment.”

“To those of you that really know me, this day – marriage – was NOT supposed to happen.  I was rather vehement about that for a long time.  Dan – is that not true??  Kamyar, what was my one repetitive piece of advice to you for YEARS?? [his answer:  ‘don’t get married!’]  I believed that marriage just wasn’t in the cards that god dealt, and actually, I still believe that to be true.

Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

“Instead, god decided to write my way in the stars.  As the poem ‘Desiderata’ says so simply, ‘…the universe unfolds pretty much how it should.’  It is up to us to look, find, see, and interrupt the lettering.”

6317359844_5e6e502686_b“Jody and I found our ways to each other, through quite different mechanisms.  If you ask me how we met, I’ll probably tell each of you a different story – it’s a tradition of ours based on what a very good friend of mine is famous for saying:  ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story!’  She will tell you, I think, that she was wandering, not aimlessly, but still directionally challenged.  But I will tell you this:  it was I who was lost.  And Jody, my Desideratum, my desired thing, my compass, my north star – it was Jody who enlightened me to the way.  Jody has been the one, the only one that has taught me to navigate through my one wild and precious life with renewed purpose and complete meaning.  Know this:  the rules of navigation never navigated a ship….”

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“We are all children of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

and have a right to be standing here, in absolute love.

And whether or not it is clear to those here today,

no doubt for us, Jody, the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Toasts and Toasted

Toasts and Toasted

“As you, our family and friends, and this great expense of nature serves as my witness,

I promise to go placidly with you through the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there is in our silence.”

She Can Leave Her Hat On

She Can Leave Her Hat On

“As far as possible and without surrender, I will strive to be on good terms with you,

who with I shall be wholesome, disciplined, and gentle.

I will speak my truth quietly and clearly;

and likewise will forever listen to the whisperings of your soul.”

Direction

Direction

“I will enjoy your achievements as well as your plans,

and refuse to be blinded to virtue

as our lives will be one of striving for high ideals

and full of our own personal heroism.”

Rich-King Wedding 2011, happy couple close embrace

“I pledge to always be myself,

And especially never feign affection.

Neither shall I be cynical about our love;

for in the face of all barrenness and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.”

Rich-King Wedding 2011, fall equinox wedding invitation

“I will take kindly the counsel of our years together,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

I resolve to nurture your strength of spirit

to help shield you from sudden misfortune.

No longer distress yourself with dark imaginings;

Our fears born of fatigue and loneliness are no longer.”

Rich-King Wedding 2011, the bride waits

“I am at peace with God and this union,

as you have shown me peace in my soul ,

in the midst of the cluttered confusion of life.”

Rich-King Wedding 2011, Bride & Groom happy self-portrait

“In the face of the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams of the past,

You have made the world – my world – a beautiful place.

Be we cheerful this day as we always strive to be happy.

I love you Jody, my Desideratum, my desired thing

Wife from this day forward.”

Rich-King Wedding 2011, a classic car wave goodbye from the departing couple

“Tonight, the fall equinox, where like there are equal parts day and night, there are also equal parts love and support.  Thank you, each and every one, for supporting us, for your friendship, and for your Love.  It means the world to us both to have you all here tonight.  So, please raise your glass and toast with me to friendship that lasts; to family and the ties that bind, and to Jody King, my one wild and precious Wife!  Cheers!!”

Okinawa Aug 2013, A-Okay sunset at Sunabe Seawall