We went to Tsuken Island, which is Sensei Advincula’s wife’s home island. While she visited relatives and friends, and prayed to honor her ancestors, we enjoyed time at the island resort swimming in crystal water and soaking up the sun. We also took some karate pictures in our gis by the coral rocks. A man came over and took some pictures of us, so I took a picture of him taking a picture of us.
One of the unique things for me was getting to drive on the “wrong” side of the street. I’ve never driven anywhere but the USA, so it felt odd to sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the street. My co-pilot (my husband) wore a crash helmet. Apparently, he thinks he’s funny. (I wish I could find the picture.) I did well driving. I only turned on the windshield wipers once. I was informed that if you hit the wipers instead of the directional signal, you should immediately yell out that it was intentional. Since it wasn’t raining, I’m not sure that anyone would have believed me anyway.
Our friend and fellow instructor, Erik, is a police officer. So we made a point to find a police station so he could take a picture with Okinawa police. The officers were so nice, and happy to pose for pictures.
One night four of us visited a bar owned by a friend of another American karate sensei we know. We were the only Americans in the bar, and truly immersed in Okinawan culture. We drank and ate with the local people and made conversation the best we could with the language barrier. The band invited us on stage to play the taiko (drum) and sanshin (3 string banjo). Erik did well, the rest us…not so much, but the people appreciated that we took interest in their culture and tried. Our group also followed along with some Okinawa dancing, and Erik and I sang karaoke.
There’s an Okinawan proverb “Ichariba choodee” which means, “Once we meet and talk, we are brothers and sisters.” I truly felt like part of the family on this trip from the courtesy and friendship of our host family to the propriety of the strangers we met (see Part 1). I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel back to Okinawa with Sensei Advincula, his wife, my husband, and my friends in Isshinryu.