Japan ~ The Land of the Rising Sun

by Ralpapajan

Okinawa ~ nearer to China yet undoubtedly Japanese. The Ryukyu Islands are a fascinating area to visit. The way of life and the unique Culture is more than just Japanese.

The Ryukyu Islands ~ an Introduction

A brief history of Okinawa

Okinawa is one of the Ryuyyu Islands of Japan, a chain of islands that stretch out like pearls in the Pacific Ocean south of the island of Kyushu of Mainland Japan.  Despite being a part of Japan it has its own culture, its unique dancing, clothing and music style.

 It was here that Karate and other Martial Arts originated.  

Nunchaku Kata during Akamine Sensei Visit

At one time the islands were an independent nation but in 1609 Shimazu Tadatsune, Lord of Satsuma, invaded the Ryūkyū Kingdom. He used a fleet of 13 junks and was accompanied by 2,500 samurai. In that year he conquered the islands for the people were not militarily minded. They paid tribute to the Chinese and after their leader, King Sho Nei, ordered that they surrender they had to pay both the Chinese and the Japanese.

This arrangement continued for several hundred years until 1874.  Then in 1879 with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki the Chinese finally gave up their claims to the Islands.

The Japanese forbade the carrying of weapons in the islands and, to defend themselves, they developed the Martial Arts that they had learned from the Chinese.  In addition to Karate ~ the way of the empty hand ~ they developed Kobudo.  The original ideas were developed from a variety of Chinese Martial Arts.

There are various reasons given for this development. Some say that they used farm implements to defend themselves.  The bo, for example, is cited as being a cudgel;  although this does in fact resemble a staff for it is nearly 2 metres long (1.83 cm) and is slim and relatively elegant. Interestingly I have not been able to find any other explanations or ideas regarding origins of Kobudo. only comments saying that the farm implement story is mythical.  

Let us then look at a simple definition.

cudgel (also known as a clubbatontruncheonnightstick or bludgeon) is one of the simplest of weapons. It is essentially a short  and heavy stick.  Wooden clubs were used as weapons for millenia.

Now for the Bo

Kobudo and the Bo.  This is Tim Jurgens who studied in Okinawa and now runs his own Dojo in the States.

I do not propose to dwell on this but any interested person may do what I do and go to Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan for this is a very authorative site that is in English though based in Okinawa itself.  

This is only one of the weapons used in Kobudo.  The site above does list and explain all the implements used. It is well worth visiting and when one does visit picture in your mind a scene of several hundred years ago when farmers etc. protected themselves using the implements described.

I do not propose to dwell on Martial Arts in my articles on Okinawa.  I would rather leave that to the experts.  What I wish to do is to show people in the West in particular how one may enjoy a fantastic holiday in Okinawa and live in a similar fashion to the way the locals live.

I will be exploring: The music - Japanese lacquerware - Glass blowing - The Theatre - Buddhist Temples - Gardens and walks around this fascinating area. 

Some photos to whet the appetite

A view of the Chinese Gardens in Naha City
A view of the Chinese Gardens in Naha...
Photos by Ralpapajan
The Entrance to a Temple Garden
The Entrance to a Temple Garden
Photos by Ralpapajan
Fresh Fish on Sale at the Market in Naha City
Fresh Fish on Sale at the Market in N...
Photos by Ralpapajan
Hand Blown Glassware at the Factory in Naha City
Hand Blown Glassware at the Factory i...
Photos by Ralpapajan
Some of the incredible Japanese Lacquerware shown to us at the Factory in Naha City
Some of the incredible Japanese Lacqu...
Photos by Ralpapajan
Fascinating and beautiful Theatre in Naha City.
Fascinating and beautiful Theatre in ...
Photos by Ralpapajan
Shirts made of material made from sugar cane
Shirts made of material made from sug...
Photos by Ralpapajan
A Beach in Okinawa.  Swimming in the Pacific in the Northern Hemisphere Fall.
A Beach in Okinawa. Swimming in the ...
Photos by Ralpapajan
Children take part in a Festival in Naha City
Children take part in a Festival in N...
Photos by Ralpapajan
A Shisa or Lion Dog ~ these statues protect the property
A Shisa or Lion Dog ~ these statues p...
Photos by Ralpapajan

This is the Source of a lot of my information confirmation

Guide Gecko is an authoritative Travel Guide and is well worth viewing

Check out this Guide Gecko Site.
Almost all the information you need to Tour Okinawa with step-by-step guides. This site is being added to all the time.

Updated: 11/19/2011, Ralpapajan
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Ralpapajan on 08/19/2012

Thank you, EssentiallyArahs ~ I am glad that you like it.

Guest on 08/19/2012

Nice photos! Also, very informative - I tried Aikido for a while, but the class times (6am) and my move didn't help. So had to postpone. Wonder if I'll ever get back to it. Thanks for your post, love it :)

Ralpapajan on 03/15/2012

Taste buds and preferences and different Chefs. each to his own. Thank you for commenting.

brettb on 03/15/2012

I ate some Okinawa food in Tokyo. It wasn't that great to be honest!

Penny on 11/23/2011

Love the photos. Okinawa is not at the top of most people's list of places to visit but it really does have a lot to offer. For anybody that does martial arts they really should visit Okinawa. As stated in the article, it is the birthplace of Karate and Kobudo and offers practitioners unique insight into the culture of martial arts which you can't experience at home in the West.

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