Monday, July 11, 2011

Okinawa 101

Okinawan culture is distinctively different from mainland Japan. Okinawa is to Japan as Hawaii is to the USA. That`s the best comparison I can think of. They're both island states that have a very different history and culture than the countries they're now part of. Okinawa wasn't originally part of Japan until the late 1800`s when Japan took over the islands. Okinawa used to be its own Kingdom, (the Ryukyu Kingdom) with its own language, customs and culture.

After 130 or so years of Japanese control Okinawa is very Japanese and everyone speaks Japanese. There is a language called uchinaaguchi that the older generation speaks but is mostly being replaced by Japanese and most young people cant speak it. There's a lot of Okinawan pride and everything Okinawan is adored by Okinawans. If there's J-pop singer from Okinawa, you bet the Okinawans listen to him/her. Okinawans have a lot of pride in their homestate.

Okinawans are really laid back and live life at a slower pace. Everyone here is on island time. My host mom told me it's normal for Okinawans to be late, which is not normal for mainland Japanese. I'm still getting used to the island time as an uptight person from the East Coast, and someone who goes to Catholic school!

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