Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Drive South

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

I rode south today with two of my buddies, Kelly and Valerie.  We went to the Ryukyu Glass Factory at Itoman and then on to Peace Park at the extreme southern end of the island.  I had already been to both, but the girls had yet to visit either - and I was more than ready to revisit these cultural centers.

We watched glass being blown and pottery being thrown at Itoman, and also spent a couple of hours walking through the shops.  It is the Year of the Rabbit, and I was able to find a couple of beautiful small glass rabbits to send to my two new granddaughters for their first Christmas.  (Granddaughter number one, Olive Noel Macy, was born October 12th in Overland Park, Kansas, to Tim and Erin.  Granddaughter number two, Molly and Scott's baby, is due to be born next week in Oregon.)  Now that I think of it, Grandson number one, Boone Macy, is also a rabbit - being born in 1999.

I have grandchildren born in two different millennia!  How cool is that!

Peace Park was called Suicide Cliffs back in the seventies when I was first on the island.  It is the place where thousands of Japanese soldiers chose, or were encouraged by their leaders, to walk off of the cliffs and fall to their deaths on the rocks below rather than face imminent capture by the Americans.   Forty years ago there were a couple of dozen monuments on the cliffs honoring the war dead.  Today the sight is immense, covering a hundred acres or more, with many monuments set off by fantastic landscaping, dark granite walls with the names of those who died in the war on Okinawa engraved on their surfaces (both Japanese and Americans), and a sprawling museum that has many exhibits and on-going films of the war.

Soft-hearted Kelly was so overtaken with the experiences depicted in the museum that she walked off and found a quiet corner in which to have a cry.  The Okinawan people, who were very rural and rustic at the time of the war, got caught in the middle of something that did not concern them (politically), and was well beyond their ability to control or even influence.

We did have a nice visit with a pair of American tourists, Bill and Jen McDonald, who teach at a military installation on the mainland near Hiroshima.  It is always nice to reset our view of Okinawa by seeing it through the eyes of visitors.

Supper was at Jack's Place on Kadena - always a treat!

(Photos of today's outing will soon be up on - as soon as I finish posting the pictures of the Guam trip.)

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