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Okinawa Explorer Guidebook Opens Door Island Culture

Date Posted: 2005-11-24

A new guidebook called the “Okinawa Explorer” has hit the shelves. It is the end result of a six-year project by author Kenny Ehman, who is a thirteen-year resident of Okinawa. With the help of his sister and brother-in-law, Kim and Tim Streaty, the trio designed and self-published a helpful guide for foreign tourists coming to Okinawa. Unlike past books written about Okinawa, which focused only on specific topics, the Okinawa Explorer covers everything from A to Z in an easy-to-understand format.

There are listings for accommodations, food, historical and cultural sites, beaches, outdoor recreation, traditional festivals, and much more. This guidebook not only tells the reader what there is to do on the island but it also explains how to get there with plenty of helpful maps.

When asked what made him decide to write a guidebook about Okinawa, Ehman said that he wanted to give non-Japanese visitors to the island a chance to experience the wonderful culture that has for so long captured his own heart. “Because my grandparents are Okinawan, I was lucky to get a lot of insight into Okinawa’s rich culture. I really wanted others to come to appreciate the beauty of Okinawa and its people. On the surface there is a lot of influence from mainland Japan and the U.S., but if you just dig a little deeper you realize that Okinawa is a very unique place with its own traditions, language, and history. The book is a tool to help uncover Okinawa’s amazing culture, which has survived since the Ryukyu Kingdom Era over five-hundred years ago.”

Ehman first began writing as a reporter for Island Market when it was still known as “Japan Update.” He credits a lot of the Okinawa Explorer’s success to those early years of writing. “Island Market’s founder, Kari Valtaoja, gave me the chance to write about Okinawa, which enabled me to discover quite a lot about the island and its people. I owe a lot to Kari,” explained Ehman. “While covering these stories about Okinawa as a reporter, I met many people along the way who helped me when it came time to write the book.”

Foreign residents who have lived on Okinawa for a long time will also find the Okinawa Explorer to be a valuable source of information. The book showcases quite a number of “off-the-beaten trail” places that most locals don’t even know about, and the explanations on customs and traditions are told with just the right amount of historical facts mixed with colorful folktales that have been handed down from generation to generation.

This book is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Okinawa. Kenny Ehman will be present for a book-signing event on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 1 - 4 p.m., at the Kadena BX. The book is available at Tuttle Book Store (Plaza House Shopping Center), Naha Seamen's Club, Libro Book Store (Naha Ryubo Shopping Center), Paul and Mike’s Place (Naha) Kadena BX, Camp Foster Book Mark, and Torii Station Shopette,

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