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Capturing the spirit of the islands for family and friends back home

Date Posted: 2012-05-04

The man behind the camera lens for the pictorial book that illustrates life in the Ryukyu Archipelago will be meeting fans at ‘The Spirit of Okinawa’ book signing sessions.

Photographer Shokyu Otsuka, will be at the Foster Exchange May 12th from 1 p.m. ~ 4 p.m., and at the Kadena Exchange Sunday the 13th from 1 p.m. ~ 4 p.m. Shokyu Otsuka first became acquainted with Okinawa over 30 years ago, and the more he learned about the island, the more he was struck by its attraction. After working for many years in Osaka as a photographer in the public relations department of a large company, Mr. Otsuka finally moved to Okinawa, the land of his dreams. “I am often asked by friends, relatives, and acquaintances, why?,” he says, “but rather than answer with words, I quietly take out one of my many Okinawan photo collections and let them speak for me.”

Otsuka first came to Okinawa in the summer of 1972, the year of Okinawa’s reversion to Mainland Japanese control. Okinawa’s characteristics—sun so strong that it hurts the skin, an ocean filled with colorful coral, towering cumulus clouds so tall that they seemed to stretch into outer space, and the look of the streets around U.S. military bases—made it feel like a different country. For Otsuka, all these things to see and hear created a new and extraordinary world. “As a photographer, I found myself captivated more and more by these picturesque scenes.”

On Okinawa, there are castle walls that conceal 450 years of the Ryukyu Kingdom’s glory. Okinawa was experiencing thriving foreign trade with China, Japan, Korea, and the countries of Southeast Asia, giving rise to numerous fine arts and folk crafts. In addition, there are nearly 50 inhabited islands in the prefecture, each with its own culture. In particular, in areas such as the Yaeyama Islands, Japan’s most southern region, the essence of the Southeast Asian influence remains.

“What makes Okinawa even more attractive is the islands’ elderly folk. Even at the age of 80 or 90, they continue to work hard, play hard, and sing of a “healthy old age.” Their smiles, which genuinely come from the bottom of the heart, are there in appreciation of having overcome such horrors as those of war and living in remote isolation.”

“In the beginning, I was without family or friends on Okinawa and was, to a large extent, saved by the spirit of Okinawa. I want to share the knowledge of this Okinawan way of living, with its warmth of human nature, fueled by a strong drive for peace. “

Experience the Spirit of Okinawa, through the eyes and lenses of photographer Shokyu Otsuka today. The Spirit of Okinawa is available at select Exchange locations island-wide for $28. For more information, contact the MCCS Marketing office at DSN 645-2245/3970. Visit MCCS online atwww.mccsokinawa.com.

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