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Okinawa and the Continuing US Military Presence

Tourist Shop Naha
Hand Slice Naha Shop
Tacky Shop Naha
Traditional Okinawa Lion And A Cat
Model Of Shuri Castle Ryukyu Days
Shuri Castle Detail Okinawa
Details Of The American Advance Okinawa
Generals Underground Room Okinawa
Destruction In The War Okinawa
Group Suicide Grenade Blast Marks Okinawa
Memorial War Dead Okinawa
Monument Himeyuri In Front Of Cave Entrance Okinawa
Himeyuri Cave Okinawa Where Schoolchildren Died
US Planes Kadena Air Base Okinawa
Whale Shark Crowd Aquarium Okinawa
Whale Aquarium Okinawa
Rays Aquarium Okinawa
Strange English Okinawa

Okinawa was originally an independent kingdom called Ryukyu. A very small island state, it bloomed because of its ideal location for trading, and its patronage of, and support from, Imperial China. It was absorbed into Japan by the late 19th century, even though its populace is culturally distinct from that of the rest of the country.

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New Years Eve and New Years Day in Tokyo

Queueing Before Midnight New Year Tokyo
Striking Bell Midhight Tokyo New Year
Torii Crowds New Year Tokyo
Sake Barrels Tokyo Shrine
Crowds New Year Tokyo
Kimono New Year Tokyo
Torii New Year Tokyo
Crowds Shrine New Year Tokyo
Queuing Shrine New Year Tokyo
Shrine New Year Tokyo
Selling Arrows Hamaya New Year Tokyo
Kimono Wishes New Year Tokyo
Tying Wishes New Year Tokyo
Wishes New Year Tokyo
Christian Sign New Year Tokyo
Lamp New Year Tokyo

New Year is known as oshogatsu and is the most important holiday in Japan. Although in recent years Xmas is celebrated, once Dec 25th has passed all Xmas decorations are taken down overnight, to be replaced by traditional ones made of bamboo and pine branches. All duties are supposed to be finished before the end of the year, bonenkai (“forgetting the year”) parties are common, and houses are cleaned even more spotlessly than usual.

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All photos and text copyright © Tony Smyth