February 20, 2012

Little Okinawa

In Daitabashi, on my way to see the Von Jour Caux buildings. I didn't expect this strangeness: a shopping arcade proudly calling itself "Okinawa Town". Its roots are organic -- this area was home to a renowned Okinawan scholar, and many Okinawans supposedly settled down here -- but the street was born out of a concerted effort to revitalize the town.

Out of the 74 shops in the arcade, a surprising number are Okinawan restaurants. (Is there such a high demand for them?) Others show their support by decorating their spaces with Okinawa iconography. See the Shisa (lion-dog figures that ward against evil) in clay and paper form on the right bottom and right top of the photo above.

A more convincing demonstration of Okinawan culture: sanshin (an Okinawan folk instrument) lessons for young people. They were all practicing, "Happy Birthday".

A shisa, perhaps, rendered with shells.

Despite their efforts, the area has a shabby, lonely feel. You can definitely feel the effects of the aging population here.

Two old ladies, keeping warm with a portable stove and selling homemade food. They were enjoying a nice gabfest.

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