Our morning started with a ride out to central part of Okinawa, to the well known village of Yuntanja, or Yomitan. This area is known for the sweet potato as well as the Pottery village and Hanaui textiles. We first went to Yachimun Satou, or the pottery village, where everyone was able to see the traditional noborigama, or kiln that is used to fire Okinawan style pottery. Everyone also was able to buy some souvenirs and then we headed to the Hanaui textile center. There we witnessed and learned about the process of this famous Okinawan textile and it’s very intricate designs which have it’s roots in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Aotearoa, New Zealand. Being able to see the process was the most important, as it helped everyone to understand and appreciate the art and value. It’s very easy to understand why Okinawans have so much patience. The beautiful work of their various arts seem to almost require such patience.
After experiencing the beautiful arts of Yomitan, we left for lunch at Kadena Michi no Eki where we also were able to learn about the history of the Kadena and Chatan areas at the useum there, and also were able to view the vast expansion of Kadena Air Base, which sprawled out for miles. We were also hoping to experience the take-off and landings of the aircraft, which causes much problems of noise to the surrounding community. However, we were told that because of the recent forced Osprey deployment, rape of the Okinawan woman, and more recently, the break-in and beating of a middle school boy by a US air force member, the US military was laying low and even has stopped and limited the flight of Ospreys.
From Kadena we continued to Ishikawa History Museum where we were met by Kumiko Iha of the Four Sisters, and Mr.Tamanoha. The museum holds various rotating exhibits on the history of Ishikawa, in connection to the time after the war and the returning of the people to the villages. It was in Ishikawa that the surviving population was gathered before going back to their hometowns. Mr. Tamanoha spoke to us about the miyamori Elementary incident, where the US jet crashed into the elementary school and killed 6 people at home, and 11 students at the school. almost 200 other students were seriously hurt along with teachers. Kumiko Iha was a 5th grader at the time, and Mr. Tamanoha was a teacher. He told us that immediately after the incident, he had the responsibility to greet the grieving parents of the students killed and to hand over their remains. He described that that was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life and still feels the guilt of not have been able to be a better guardian to his students as he feels that it was his duty as a teacher. Because of this, he has committed to spreading the story of this incident in hopes that it will bring a better understanding of what war does, and that it can work for peace, not only for Okinawa, but also for the world. His talk to us brought everyone to tears as he especially added ” We are all connected through our blood, although separated by an ocean and distant lands. We all have the same ancestors and we have the obligation to help each other out. I am forever grateful for the people of Hawaii for the assistance they gave us with the pigs after the war.”
Everyday, we have been blessed to experience or hear the Okinawa people’s voices. Everyone we have met so far has experessed their hope for a peaceful Okinawa, but also have expressed that Okinawa is still suffering from the war. They ask for our help and to be continually conne