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February 2006

city vs. island

February 24, 2006

Lately, I haven’t had much to write here. Not that I haven’t been doing things — it’s just that life in the city is not only much more similar to life in the UK, but also that it follows much more predictable routines than life on a tiny island (which means I don’t have anything particular to say about any particular thing). Which isn’t to say it’s boring — Naha is, beneath its nondescript surface, an interesting city with a million tiny secret bars and venues that you could spend years exploring, but even so the city doesn’t provide anything like the same number of spontaneous, unexpected cultural experiences that a tiny Okinawan island does. When it does, it’s often because someone from the island is passing through town.

That said, I have taken a few photos of things lately that I will try to dig out when I get a moment. I took a couple of days off work at the beginning of this week and went to a waterfall in the wild north of the mainland with some elementary school kids who’d come across from my island. And I’ve been continuing to go to Okinawan metal events, to see my friend Teru’s band, and take more black and white pictures of people jumping around and screaming.

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ryukyu dancers

February 13, 2006

Traditional Ryukyu dancers

Traditional Ryukyu (Okinawan) dancers, at Shuri castle, Naha.

It always strikes me when I watch Okinawan dancers how much their movements look like slowed-down karate (which of course is also Okinawan). There seems to be a particularly Okinawan form of movement, distinct from its equivalent in mainland Japanese arts: very smooth, fluid movements, usually from point to point. Very graceful. Japanese arts like taiko drumming and kendo (sword-fighting), on the other hand, seem to involve sharper, jerkier, more aggressive movements, with more visible acceleration and deceleration.

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