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Renowned photographer signs new photo essay book this weekend

Date Posted: 2007-05-11

Shokyu Otsuka knows Okinawa almost like the back of his hand.

Since visiting Okinawa from mainland Japan in 1972, as Okinawa was in the process of reversion to Japanese control, Otsuka has made it a point to learn about the former Ryukyu Kingdom with its 450 years of cultural heritage. Then a photographer for an Osaka-based company, he fell in love with Okinawa and its sun so strong it hurts the skin, an ocean filled with colorful coral, huge cumulous clouds so surreal they look s if they came from outer space, and the look of the streets around U.S. military bases. “It made it feel like a different country,” he says, and “as a photographer, I found myself captivated more and more by these picturesque scenes.

Otsuka’s new book, The Spirit of Okinawa, is a pictorial illustrtng life in the Ryukyu Archipelago. He’s be autographing copies at the Kadena Air Base Exchange Saturday from 1~5 p.m., and at the Camp Foster PX on Sunday from 1~5 p.m. The Spirit of Okinawa, as seen through the eys and lenses of Otsuka, is available at most AAFES BookMark locations for $28.

The photographer’s love for Okinawa led him to move here. “I am often asked by friends, relatives and acquaintances, ‘why?’ but rather than answer with words, I quietly take out one of my Okinawa photo collections,” he says. “In the beginning, I was without family or friends in Okinawa and was, to a large extent, saved by the spirit of Okinawa,” he explains. “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.”

Otsuka says “What makes Okinawa even more attractive is the islands’ elderly folk. Even at the age of eighty or ninety, 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.

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