: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Nature
Browse Nature Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Okinawa's tidal changes provide enjoyment and culture

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-03-28

Lately, the tidal changes on Okinawa have been very large. The positioning of the sun and the moon during this time of the year causes their gravitational pull on the earth to be at its greatest, thus causing the above average tidal changes. The tidal changes have always played an important role in Okinawan customs, which is why most religious and cultural holidays follow the lunar calendar. The 1st of the month and the 15th of the month of the lunar calendar always mark the day of the new moon and the full moon, which makes it easy to follow the changes in tides.

The many beliefs that revolve around the tides also include marriage ceremonies and moving into a new home. Both must take place after low tide and before high tide. The belief in this practice is that during the time when the sea is retreating, it is symbolic for having good fortune being taken away. However, while the tide is coming in, good fortune will also be brought with it.

Many Okinawans can be seen during this time of the year, out walking on the reef during low tide. They are all looking for different types of shellfish and other edible creatures that make their homes in the nooks and crannies of the reef. Although many of them are now there for an enjoyable day, they are continuing a custom that has been an Okinawan tradition for many centuries. The many wives of fishermen would always be out looking for food during low tide, providing essential nutrition for an island that has historically been very harsh for agriculture. Some of the shellfish that they are searching for are the chijiraa, which is a tiny shellfish that is boiled and then eaten with soy sauce. It is frequently set out on the table as a small appetizer, and goes well with a nice cold beer. Anaguu is another shellfish that is commonly found. It is referred to as shakogai in the Japanese language, and is called squilla in English. Clams are also quite abundant and can be found along the reef.

If you are new to scouring the reef in search of shellfish, you will probably find out quickly that it can be quite difficult finding them. Being able to recognize them is the first thing you will have to learn. A good book on marine life in Okinawa could be handy, but a much better and more fun way is to ask a local to simply show you. Once you have found something, you then must extract it from the reef, which can be a bit tricky. A good knife or prying tool is essential. You should also be careful not to pick up any shells that can have poisonous stinging barbs. It is therefore very wise to go with someone that is experienced, or has some knowledge about what is dangerous and what is safe.

A good way to enjoy this Okinawan custom is to simply go out and watch. Reef walking is a great way to discover many of the wonders of Okinawa's marine environment. No scuba lessons or snorkeling gear is necessary. All you need are a good pair of diving boots to protect your feet. An old pair of sneakers with thick souls will also work fine.

Once out on the reef, you will begin to discover many of the life forms that survive in the tide pools dotting the hard reef. There are also many small coastal caves that remain filled with water after the tide has gone out, waiting to be explored. Corals, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and small tropical fish are some of the things you can see. The beautiful blue damsel fish is one of the abundant tropical fish species that can be found almost anywhere on Okinawa. Its electric blue color makes this fish stand out in the clear ocean water. If you are not sure what is safe to touch, then stick to the rule of not touching anything. The tide pools are like mini natural aquariums that everyone can enjoy, so please do not poach any tropical fish for home aquariums, and of course, never remove any coral as a souvenir - there are plenty of dead pieces that can be found on the beaches to take home.

Get out there and enjoy a beautiful day along the reef. It is great to venture out on your own, or with friends and family. Children can especially have a great time observing all the interesting living creatures of the sea, while also learning about nature and the importance of protecting it. You also will have a chance to see one of Okinawa's rich cultural traditions.

Browse Nature Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleJU FacebookOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker