Tragedy at Yonaguni Island


”Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” ~Robert Kennedy

Life can be full of tragedy, but only if we make it that way.  Every once in a while, there comes along a heartbreaking tale that is almost too hard to believe.  This one I experienced on a remote Ryukyuan island, seemingly far from the harder toils of life.

yonaguni-2017-yds-yonaguni-diving-service-local-hand-drawn-kubura-map

Infamous Kuburabari can be found at the top-center of this rather animated map.

Kuburabari, located near the west tip of Yonaguni Island, is near to Kubura village.  An infamous gorge located there is about 60 feet long, 25-30 feet deep, with a width on top of about 10-15 feet.  In the age of the Ryukyu Dynasty, foreign rulers imposed a severe tax based on population throughout this island chain then under their control.  It is said that during these sad times, to avoid an unaffordable increase in population pregnant woman were made to attempt to leap the gorge, ensuring only the strongest mothers and by extension babies survived.  But more directly to the point, to ensure that most of the woman and fetuses didn’t survive the attempt….

yonaguni-2017-contemplating-the-heart-breaking-kubura-bari-rocks-wm

Contemplating the Past

A terrible tale by any stretch of the imagination, something of which to be ashamed.  Perhaps that is why in more recent times the Yonaguni Island Board of Education has claimed the story to be only a local folk tale.  That said, Kubub Bari remains designated as an important prefectural scenic tourism spot, with signage explaining his haunted past, and with a small Buddhist altar located on-site.  Besides, there is always some measure of truth in folklore, else it wouldn’t exist.

When you visit however, you can take the edge of this sadder side of the site by going in the very late afternoon.  You see, the hill the gorge is sliced into also happens to be the last hill in Japan to see the sunset, being on the western portion of the most western island in all of Japan.

yonaguni-2017-matt-at-the-cliffs-of-kuburabari

It is said that Satsuma and his clan were ultimately responsible for such a horrific outcome.  Based in the southernmost part of Kyushu, Japan and looking to rebuild their fortunes after defeats in the Japanese home islands, they built 100 warships to carry 3,000 samurai invaders to send to the Ryukyus.  Eleven years before the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Port, the Satsuma battleships left on a mission of violence on February 6, 1609.

Satsuma’s troops took over Nakijin Castle on Okinawa, then burned it to the ground as they slaughtered the local peoples they encountered on their way to capital city and castle of Shuri.  On April 1, 1609, Satsuma’s invaders rushed into Shuri Castle. Then Ryukyuan King Sho Nei was arrested and the Kingdom’s treasure and important official documents were stolen.  The Ryukyu Kingdom suddenly came under the control of Satsuma.

Ships of the Type Used by Satsumo

Ships of the Type Used by Satsuma

Removing the deposed Sho Nei and his ministers to Edo (modern-day Tokyo), Satsuma was free to prepared a wholly one-sided treaty, which was imposed on the King’s offices by force.   The Ryukyu’s “Golden Age” of peaceful self-rule had suddenly turned into a Dark Age under Satsuma colonization.  For the next 270 long years, the people of the Ryukyus suffered under Satsuma’s control, paying heavy taxes and impossible tribute to their new, brutal rulers.

Invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 17th Century

Invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 17th Century

All the Kingdom’s people between 15 and 50 years of age now had to pay taxes.  Some tales talk about a “head tax” (jinto-zei) rather than age.  In some villages in the Yaeyama islands (southern-most islands in the Ryukyu chain), stone pillars can still be found by which children were measured; once over the stone’s reach, taxes were to be imposed.  To make things easier, Satsuma blamed the taxes on the deposed King, and claimed to have come to the rescue of the peoples of the Ryukyu Kingdom.   Obviously, these lies and shams became rather obvious when the taxes were never lifted or eased, and, in fact, were not abolished until 1903 and only after a strong petition from the local peoples once under Japanese formal rule starting in 1879.

On Yonaguni Island, some claim that is was Satsuma himself who introduced sad and inhumane methods of population control.  One method was Tonguda, the rice paddy located at the center of the island.  Periodically, all islanders between ages 15 and 50 had to dash to the paddy on some signal, and those who couldn’t get there in a set amount of time were beheaded.  Obviously this most effected the physically handicapped, injured and sick….

yonaguni-2017-heart-breaking-kubura-bari-rocks-of-legend

Placard explaining the rocks and small Buddhist altar at far right

yonaguni-2017-kubura-bari-the-jumping-point-for-sadnessyonaguni-2017-kubura-bari-rocks-to-jump-acrossAnother, more infamous method was the one detailed here:  killing of pregnant women.  Periodically, all pregnant women of the island were forced to line up on one side of the Kuburabari ravine.  They were then ordered to attempt to hurdle the ravine by jumping to the other side.  Of course attempting to leap a gap of 10-15 feet was mostly impossible for women in such a state, and most of them died after bashing against the rock of the opposite side and falling deep into the ravine.  If that is not bad enough, there are claims that most of those women who miraculously succeeded their leap of faith ended up suffering miscarriages.  The islanders usually had to pay their taxes in food (mostly rice), and only by reducing the number of mouths to feed could the taxes be afforded.  Similarly, Satsuma realized he could receive maximum tribute if he were to “help” control population.

yonaguni-2017-memorial-altar-at-kubura-bari-rocks

Sadly, there is only the smallest memorials altar placed at the site.  Although there is tourist parking and signage explaining the nature of the area, they are as much about observing the sunset here as remembering a darker time.  It seems in a formal sense that Japanese officials have ignored and discarded this shameful history as simple island myths and legends not to be taken literally.

yonaguni-2017-angry-seas-at-kugurafurushi

But the truth is always somewhere in the middle.  For me, myth and legend do not exist in a vacuum.  And I would rather say a silent prayer for all those lost here, rather than ignore the possibilities.  Rather than to act as our guide in life, tragedy can rather result in wisdom for life.

yonaguni-2017-gorge-at-the-kubura-bari-rocks

Okinawan Traces of War: Telegraph from the Past


 “There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.”  ~ Dwight David Eisenhower

Carrier aircraft attack Ishigaki-jima in the Ryukyus

Carrier aircraft attack Ishigaki-jima in the Ryukyus

Kamikaze-Attacks-of-World-War-II-Okinawa-Ryukus-MapIt was probably a lazy day at the office in the fall of 1944 or spring of 1945.  Having finished a shift full of mundane duties and boring watches, perhaps a few decided to enjoy the sandy beach and pristine waters immediately adjacent to this wooded site.  Others were probably enjoying their time off, tending to personal business nearby.  Being stationed on a remote island far in the southern reaches of the Ryukyu Chain, and then being billeted to such a small, isolated communications station in a completely rural part of the island, the War in the Pacific seemed many thousands of miles away, if not of a different time.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), bullet scared WM

Then, without warning, death rained down from above.  And nothing was ever the same again.

Death came from above by means of the Navy's "Avengers"

Death came from above by means of the Navy’s “Avengers”

Sakishima%20IsIshigaki Island is the most inhabited and developed island of the Yaeyama Islands (Yaeyama-shoto) in the deep southwestern waters of Okinawa Prefecture (Ryukyu Islands) and the second of this grouping of sub-tropical isles.  The Yaeyama Islands are, at the same time, the mostly southerly and westerly parts of Japan, located approximately 430 kilometers/260 miles south of Okinawa.

Ishigaki's relationship to Okinawa, the Ryukyu Island Chain

Ishigaki’s relationship to Okinawa, the Ryukyu Island Chain

Japanese-WWII-key-capturedOn a small peninsula out to the west of Ishigaki-jima is a former Japanese Military Undersea Telegraph Station, built at the turn of last century (1897), which operated until attacked during World War II.  While not the easiest place to find, and certainly not a well-visited “touristy” destination, the unimproved road leading to the coastal site is well signed off the primary road in the area.  Be prepared though; the long and winding path leading down to the facility can be very rough on your vehicle!  We had a rental (wink).

Telegraph Lines converge at Ishigaki

Telegraph Lines converge at Ishigaki

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), now defunct and dead station on the beach WMDuring the time in which Taiwan (then Formosa) was administered by Japan, this small structure served as a critical node in the larger Japanese Imperial Army communications system between Taiwan and headquarters in Honshu.  Numerous relay stations were located all the way from the Japanese mainland to Taiwan, all connected by huge undersea cables.  From the Sino-Japanese War until World War II, this station, known as Denshinya, was used by the Japanese military.

Attacks on the Japanese airfield at Ishigaki-jima.

Attacks on the Japanese airfield at Ishigaki-jima.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), old wooden signage WMDuring WWII, it was attack by carrier-based aircraft, was abandoned, and has been in this damaged state ever since.  Severe damage can be seen, and although it appears the building escape a direct hit by bombs, it certainly was well-strafed with heavy machine gun and aircraft cannon fire.  Some locals claim that many ghosts haunt the area, but on the bright, warm sunny day of our visit, we unfortunately (fortunately for my wife) encountered none.  I cannot find any reports of casualties or of the actual attack in my research (read about the frequency and magnitude of attacks across Ishigaki-jim).  Ishigaki was frequently attacked in the lead-up to the Battle of Okinawa, particularly its airfield.  Read about an unfortunate American crew that was shot down perhaps at the same time this station was attacked in Beauty and Honor Entombed, and about their particular story Shipley Bay.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), bullet scars remain WM

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), now defunct and dead station WMThe facility was never repaired or reclaimed, and continues to deteriorate.  The day we visited there was some archeological study going on, where a Japanese man was taking meticulous measurements which annotated some amazing sketches of the facility he had done.  There is no English here, but there are what appears to be a couple of memorial plaques in Japanese.  As simple and small as the building may appear, it was once played a key role for the Japanese Imperial Government.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), war-torn decaying structure

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), ruined interior WMSurveying the scene today, one can only imagine the horror of the day when the facility was attacked.  Set in a rustic yet beautifully bucolic setting, I’m sure the death from above was both a shock and a surprise to the Japanese that were pulling duty here.  The remoteness of the site, along with the preserved state of battle-damage and ensuing decay, allows this particular location to certainly convey somber and silent commentary on the darker complexion of war.  There certainly was no glory here at this station, even though blood was surely shed.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), Jody modeling the Army's Station

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), station's beach & ocean warningsTo Visit: Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph) 556, Sakieda, Ishigaki City (Ishigaki-shi), Okinawa Prefecture.  There is no fee, nor hours; the site is not lighted, and no facilities are anywhere nearby.  Easy beach access is adjacent to the site, but parking is very limited.

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), looking back through time to WWII WM

Ishigaki Vacation 2014, Denshinya (Imperial Japanese Army Telegraph Station), Jody on the beach-front property 2 WM

Offshore Okinawa: A Scuba Diver’s Paradise to Lose


561

“Water is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.”  ~ Zoolander as The Merman

“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)….”  ~ from big-hair metal band Cinderella’s most successful power ballad single

“He who would search for pearls must dive below.”  ~ John Dryden

One of my favorite pearls of the underwater world:  Praying Mantis Shrimp

One of my favorite pearls of the underwater world: Praying Mantis Shrimp

“No scuba diving,” the Doctor said as he leaned in with some measure of compassion.  “At least not for six months…maybe longer.”  It seems I mysteriously had come down with Portal Vein Thrombosis (PVT), a pretty rare condition in healthy, active guys like me, which negated, for the time, much of my normal day-to-day life.

This is how I felt.  Except I was dry.  And not a girl.  And drawn more in the style of manga....

This is how I felt. Except I was dry. And not a girl. And drawn more in the style of manga….

office_spaceOkinawa Oct 2013, IDC OW Dives, Elvis in the waterThe ironic thing, though, is that I’ve been meaning to blog on scuba diving in Okinawa for quite some time.  I have a whole slew of specific blogs to write on specific dive sites out here that I’ve come to know like the back of my hand.  Okinawa is the locale and setting where I came to embrace diving with an emotionally deep-seated affection.  It is where as a Divemaster I helped to teach both my children to dive, and it is where I have entered the enticing depths of the open water over 400 times, each in search and anticipation of yet another of nature’s pearls.

Earning my PADI instructor ticket with my Course Director Ken

Earning my PADI instructor ticket with my Course Director Ken

Diving is also my livelihood, and Okinawa is the spot where I finally became a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (instructor).  Between January and early May I was able to complete over 70 certifications!

Jody on the High Seas, the East China one

Jody on the High Seas, the East China one

Okinawa Oct 2013, Scuba Diving Dung Steps, Jody geared up in her new 5mm wetsuit and ready to go!Scuba Diving Mar 2014, AOW Maeda Point, orange cup coralScuba was perhaps the predominant reasoning for convincing Jody to take an overseas Asian tour with the Navy instead of retiring. Well, that and living and traveling throughout Asia.  To be honest, though, Jody before she met me admitted she had little interest in Asia.  I hope that I’ve changed her mind!  I’m sure the 20-odd dives we’ve done together here have helped.  Read more about how I feel about Okinawan scuba diving!

Flying Gurnard in the Kerama Islands

Flying Gurnard in the Kerama Islands

Scuba Diving Okinawa Mar 2014, Toilet Bowl, beautiful nudibranchScuba Diving Okinawa Apr 2014, Deep Specialty, spotted eel at HorseshoeThere is, not just in my opinion mind you, world-class scuba diving around the entire Okinawa Prefecture.  When I often compare the diving here to other more recognizable renowned diving destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, Bonaire or Palau, people often balk.  And that’s okay:  it helps keep Okinawa a safely hidden divers’ paradise, found literally at our condo’s front door.

Low tide from our condo balcony

Low tide from our condo balcony

Okinawa Nov 2013, Scuba Diving Horseshoe, fire sea urchinScuba Diving Okinawa Nov 2013, Maeda Point, fish and anemone wavePart of the southern Ryukyu chain of Japanese islands, Okinawan waters are fed by the warm, northward flowing Kuroshio Current, which helps sustain an enormous variety of marine life.  Okinawa, in general terms, shares the same latitude and sub-tropical climate as Miami.  Although the Gulfstream there brings warmer waters and stronger flows, South Florida lacks the barrier reefs that are present around the majority of Okinawa, which make the Ryukyu island chain one of the largest coral habitants in the world.  We are heading to one of the remote islands, Ishigaki, for the long July 4th weekend, originally to dive with the summer migration of huge manta rays.  While my wife dives, I may only be snorkeling from the boat.

Porcelain Crab

Porcelain Crab

Diving in the spring here, one hears the distant but enticing songs of the transiting and breeding humpback whales.  Octopus, cuttlefish and decorator crabs all abound, and night diving here is even better than experiencing the underwater world in the heated sun of the day.

Another of my favs:  Cuttlefish!

Another of my favs: Cuttlefish!

Scuba Diving Okinawa Mar 2014, Toilet Bowl, cat-like eel

Anime scuba divers, of course.

Anime scuba divers, of course.

Although this island chain is made up of over 160 islands, only 48 are inhabited, and then only a few significantly so.  It is a remote area which marks the break between the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea, stretching for over 600 miles.  The reefs thriving around the Kerama islands, just a few miles and a relaxed boat ride from Okinawa, are most renowned for their splendor:  “The most beautiful and diverse coral reefs that I have ever seen anywhere in the world were in Kerama,” once said French marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, author of “The Silent World”.  Now who’s gonna argue with THAT guy??

jacques-yves-cousteau-quote

More mysteriously, near Yonaguni Island lays an underwater ruins site that has been only recently discovered, the Yonaguni Monument.  Famous now for both its implications in archeology and as a dive destination for sharks and pelagics, it has been featured in National Geographic and on the Discovery Channel.  While high on my dives “to do” list, unfortunately I haven’t yet made it out to this location.

Jody at Maeda Point, perhaps Okinawa's most famed dive site

Jody at Maeda Point, perhaps Okinawa’s most famed dive site

The World War II destroyer USS Emmons, rediscovered only recently in 2001, is found not far offshore from Okinawa, resting as a war relic and underwater grave after being pummeled by five kamikazes in 1945.  It too is a dive I have not had the pleasure to experience…YET.

Jody greets a friendly sea turtle

Jody greets a friendly sea turtle

Like Zoolander, I may have to find a new line of work.

Like Zoolander, I may have to find a new line of work.

Frappuccinos don't help.  And could result in disaster.

Frappuccinos don’t help. And could result in disaster.

Cinderella was not entirely right about not knowing what you got until it’s gone.  I believe that I did, and it makes this temporary injunction from inner space much harder to accept.  I’m not one to quote big-hair bands from the 1980s, but honestly, that song almost instantaneously came to mind with the delivery of the bad news.  I’ve been moving through the grieving process, and while to some this may seem overly dramatic, for someone who used to dive up to 10-12 times a week, who likes to ride motorcycles, and who still has more skydives than scuba dives in his logbooks, anticoagulants and blood clots are just not congruent with life.

Taking my meds makes me feel like I'm taking CRAZY PILLS!

Taking my meds makes me feel like I’m taking CRAZY PILLS!

At least not for now.  I have yet to reach fully the “Testing” or “Acceptance” phase of the process, the good news is that at least I’ve given up on bargaining for a way to balance diving with my condition.

5-stages-of-grief-kubler-ross-22

okoptimism-funny-demotivational-postersThat just leaves me with Depression to move through, and that’s why I finally have gotten around to this blog on diving in our Far East Fling.  My life remains full of pearls; I just have to refocus on the ones found in more terrestrial settings!

Okinawa Oct 2013, IDC OW Dives, Kadena North entry

Sub-Tropical Summer Vacation: Iriomote Island


“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.”  ~ Chinese Proverb

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”  ~ Elbert Hubbard

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.”  ~ Lao Tzu

large

nakara001iriomote-guide-4It’s that time of year for, yes, you guessed it:  Summer Vacation!  The wife and I are departing tomorrow (Saturday, 24 May 2014) for a 4-day retreat in the southern most reaches of the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa anchors.  We will be staying at a rather remote resort on Iriomote island, and although it is the 2nd largest island in the Ryukyu (after Okinawa) chain, there are only about 2,000 residents…but over 150,000 tourists every year!  Most of the interior of the island remains rugged  and inaccessible jungle, which has become one of Japan’s largest National Parks.    We look forward to some serious unwinding, river kayaking, waterfall trekking, eco-tours, and ox cart taxis to name just a few….  Oh, but mostly just vegging by the pool and on the island’s “Star Sand” beach.

5690224_22_z

star-sand-beach-okinawa-japan-woe3-690x44710084627204_b211c83338_zUpon our return we will have less than 24 hours to do a quick laundry and repack our bags for our first trip back to the states since being flung over to the Far East.  We will be checking in on family in South Carolina, I’ll be giving my daughter away in her wedding in South Beach (Miami) and visiting with my granddaughter who is now 18 months old, and then we’ll finally head “home” for a few days in Pensacola, Florida, to check on our rental home and catch up with all our close friends.

e_iriomote_map

Between being pretty seriously ill most of this month and these upcoming vacations, May has turned out to be a blog-lite month for the Far East Fling.  No worries though; I plan to return to publishing our Far East Flirtations with great fervor upon our return to our sub-tropical paradise in mid-June.

4461996

Stay tuned.  Our Far Eastern Flirtations never end!  Cheers, Kevin and Jody, Okinawa, Japan.

vacation

Tattoo You? Absolutely, given the right Territory


Tattoo….  Absolutely.  Given the right Territory.

Do you have a tattoo?  If so, what’s the story behind your ink?  If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned permanently on your skin?  After all, tattoos and Asian are synonymous…at least in the Navy.

What kept sailors' hats on in the 1940s??

What kept sailors’ hats on in the 1940s??

I do (I was in the Navy, and stationed in Asia), and it all started right here in Okinawa in 2004.  But when I started to research and write a blog about the story behind my inked permanence, and while trying to find that just right perfectly crazy connection to Japan, I came across a topic that, well, had to be broken out as a stand-alone conversation:  Zettai Ryouiki Koukoku.

Thigh Advertising.  Genius or demeaning??  Both!

Thigh Advertising. Genius or demeaning?? Both!!

Let me get this straight:  my tat is not for advertising, nor really even for daily public consumption (given its placement).  However, use of tats for advertising was very recently proposed, and not just by a liberal-leaning and progressive marketing company (are there any other kinds?  A rhetorical question for a certain mother-in-law in the advertising industry….), but by The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) along with the Okinawan Prefectural government.  Seriously.

thighad

The OCVB and the government have cancelled their plans to use space on Japanese and Okinawan women’s bare thighs for marketing the Ryukyu Islands as a graduation trip destination to students in Japan’s other prefectures.  After reporting by the local Okinawa Times, numerous complaints were logged criticizing the plan as “undignified” and “not an appropriate use of taxpayer money.”  Citing such criticism, the two bodies stated, “Placing temporary tattoo-like stickers on the thighs of young women to advertise Okinawa is not in line with prefecture’s brand image.”

You think?

Parading around town....

Parading around town….

With “thigh advertising,” a new method of marketing gaining traction in Japan, young ladies wearing miniskirts or short shorts parade around town with promotional stickers placed on their zettai ryouiki or absolute territoryZettai Ryōiki (絶対領域) (or Ryouiki as alternate spelling) loosely translates into “absolute territory” and is the area of bare skin seen between a skirt and thigh-highs or socks, a strategic body location that’s often fetishized in Japanese anime and manga.  The idea of “Absolute Territory” comes from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, which initially referred to an “AT Field,” or, a nearly impenetrable barrier (force-field) generated by Angels and Evangelions – in essence, an inviolable area created God.

Can you spot the Absolute Territory??

Can you spot the AT Field??

However, at the time, a popular Chatterbot (known throughout Japan as Jinkou Munou, literally Artificial Intelligence without Intelligence) was noted for eccentric anime character design.  Unveiling its newest character creation Mayura, imagined to be dressed in a black turtleneck, a grey checkered miniskirt, and black over-the-knee-socks and boots, the bot proclaimed, “The distance between the knee socks and miniskirt is invincible!  I can even say that it’s God’s Absolute Territory.”  Thus, while “absolute” in this context hints at the idea of “inviolable sanctuary,” there was also an almost direct and immediate tie-in with Neon Genesis Evangelion.

A lessor-known Divine Proportion

A lessor-known Divine Proportion

And, as a mathlete, I was tickled pink to find that this segment of weird fetish in Japan has its own “Divine Ratio,” akin to the one of the same name found repeated in nature and art over and over again, strongly related to the idea of God’s Territory.  Some have suggested that the ideal “Divine Ratio” is 4:1:2.5, referring to Miniskirt Length to Exposed Thigh (Absolute Territory) to Thigh-High Length above the Knee.  Oh, and it seems that the acceptable margin of error is ±15%.  Someone has really thought this through….  Unfortunately for him, he’s most likely destined to never touch a woman’s thigh on account of all the weirdness.

Please, no math in my fetish.

Please, no math in my fetish.

Given that mathematical ideal, it’s only perfectly normal to think that there should be a grading scale by which to judge the quality of Absolute Territory.  And there is.  Which is roughly as follows (although these too have recommended absolute distances associated with them):  Grade A – Thigh high socks, thigh-highs or stockings; Grade B – Over-the-knee sock; Grade C – High socks; Grade D – Three quarter socks; and Grade E – Crew socks.  Ankle socks are an instant Grade F.  Only the top two Grades (A & B) are considered true zettai ryouiki and are only properly achievable by females.  Thank goodness.

"F" is not even worth listing

“F” is not even worth listing

Interestingly enough, there appears to be also a most coveted Grade S (wonder what that stands for) that can be reached only from Grade A, and with the addition of two other critical elements:  1) Twintails hairstyle, more commonly perhaps known as pig-tails; and 2) a Tsundere personality.  What is the latter you ask?  Good question.

Tsundere_by_Kersey475

Tsundere (ツンデレ, pronounced tsɯndeɽe) is a portmanteau of two Japanese phrases:  “tsun tsun” (ツンツン), which is to turn away in disgust, and “dere dere” (デレデレ), meaning to become something akin to “lovey-dovey.”  The term refers to characters who act under a mask of indifference, dislike, or even open hostility to the object of their affections, but secretly (or not-so-secretly) harbor feelings for them.  A tsunderekko is a tsundere female; more rarely you may see tsunderekun for a tsundere male.  Two prime examples of Grade S Absolute Territory include Rin Tohsaka and Hiiragi Kagami.

Rin Tohsaka.  Grade S.

Rin Tohsaka. Grade S.

So, in an attempt to cash in on this craze, a Japanese marketing firm is launching zettai ryouiki koukoku, or “absolute territory PR”.  There are three criteria for prospective thigh flashers:  1) you must be a female; 2) you must be over 18; and 3) you must have over 20 “connections” on your social networking site, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, or something similar.  It’s a one day gig, during which you’ll wear a sticker on your thigh, and participants will get paid between ¥1,000 and ¥10,000 (roughly $10 to $100USD).  You’ll need to be photographed in at least two different locations and then upload those photos on a social networking site.  So, in a sense, it’s not about advertising live in public, but using the idea of drawing eyes to Absolute Territory in public that makes this so…alluring.  From what I can find online there is no shortage of applicants (これはつい見ちゃう自信アリ! 絶対領域に貼りつける広告ステッカー「絶対領域広告 Absolute Territory PR, Kotaku Japan).

From the PR Firm's Website....

From the PR Firm’s Website….

So, given this background and pop-cultural shift in advertising in Japan, Okinawa seems to somewhat at odds with the times.  When asked for a further explanation regarding the cancellation of this type of advertising, the Okinawan prefecture’s tourism promotion section replied, “Though we believe it would prove to be instantaneously effective in marketing to young people, when looking at the image of the prefecture as a whole, the demerits are considerable.”  The OCVB continued, “As funding is coming from national government coffers, we decided it was not worth fighting those opposed.”

Really, we are supposed to read stuff posted *there*??

Really, we are supposed to read stuff posted *there*??

Talk about a Tsundere attitude.  Now, if only the OCVB uniform consisted of twintails and thigh-highs…but there’s little doubt their disposable Foot Sox dooms the government to Grade F, perhaps fitting for this epic failure.

Grade F for Epic Fail

Grade F for Epic Fail