Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Years Cards

Known as hagaki in Japanese, post cards are even bigger in Japan than they are elsewhere in the world.  Post cards are used for different events, such as catching up with old colleagues after moving, or to make announcements, but the most popular use is for new years greetings.  While people do call or visit, in Japan New Years is generally spent with the immediate family so cards are a useful way to keep in touch with friends and extended family. The Japanese

Winter Solstice in Okinawa

Here’s a special bit of Okinawan Culture.  Today happens to be the winter solstice (冬至).  Throughout Japan many families will offer rice at their butsudan (family shrines) and pray for good health in the coming year.  In the mainland they will offer white rice. Okinawa has its own traditions, influenced by Chinese culture.  Here they offer a type of fried rice called juushi (じゅうし).  Since it is a special occasion they add a blue potato called ta-mu- in hogen(田芋 or

Community Running

This weekend was another ekiden (a relay-type marathon) on Kumejima.  The one previously this year was for the Junior High School students from all over Okinawa.  This one was just for Kumejima.  There are nearly thirty aza (neighborhoods) here, and since Kumejima has been around for so long tensions can rise between the members and families of different areas.  Many have their own festivals, traditions, and ideals.  For a long time the various communities were organized into two villages, but not long

Autumn Kites

The weather here in Japan has gone from warm humid summer to down-jacket cold rather quickly.  While Japan is famed for its four seasons, down south where I live things seem to have just two settings, hot and cold.    While it will likely warm up again before settling into the cold creep of winter, the locals are taking advantage of the change in weather.  With north winds blowing strongly, it’s a perfect time for kite flying. Kites have a