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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Managing the Legalities: Okinawa: the Champloo Islands

Mixing things together, known by some as Champloo, is a trait signature to its daily life. Why? Well, consider how the cultures of mainland Japan, America, China, those native to the islands, and others have mixed together throughout its history to create the whole its denizens know today, both for worse and for better. Why for worse?
     The short version is that Okinawa, in it's history, was once an independent nation with its own kingdom (complete with an oppressive ruler!). This kingdom was soon brought down by invaders from mainland Japan, who, after establishing a presence, tried to essentially rewrite its past through the suppression of it's native culture and language.
     Some time after that, the US Army came and set up base on Okinawa during WWII, bringing with it a great influence on the music, cuisine(see Spam Musubi, Taco Rice, Tofu chanpuru and others) and the way locals view the Army presence; this view, thanks to the vast consumption of resources, a history of vile acts by military folks, and numerous other factors, has been less than positive, as of this writing, and continues to drive the politics and other developments within the community. 
     China, in contrast, has had a long standing and intricate connection to Okinawa's development, from its architecture, its cuisine, the culture built through centuries of international trading, and much more. Why, if you wanna see that influence in person, just check out Shuri Castle and its bountiful Shisa lions!
     Complimenting that relationship is the native beauty and wonder found throughout the islands; for example, consider the pristine beaches of Miyako Island, the elephant-like cliffs of Manzamo in northern Okinawa, and the lush forests and waterfalls on Iriomote Island, plus more just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps, though, tropical climates and tropical environments aren't your thing; perhaps you want something a bit closer to the stark wonders of the mountains; perhaps you want to make your way to Hokkaido.