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Vivid photography captures spirit of the islands

Date Posted: 2008-11-14

Photographer Shokyu Otsuka knows Okinawa from north to south, east to west, and has captured the brilliance of the islands’ culture and beauty in a newly published pictorial book.

Otsuka, who first came to Okinawa in the summer of 1972, the year of Okinawa’s reversion to mainland Japanese control, will be meeting with people at Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster this weekend to share ‘The Spirit of Okinawa’ in person, as well as through the lenses of his cameras. His pictorial book illustrating life in the Ryukyu Archipelago is available for sale at select AAFES BookMark locations and select shoppettes island-wide for $28.

Shokyu Otsuka worked for many years in Osaka as a photographer in the public relations department of a large company before he was bitten by the Okinawa bug. He acted on his dreams, moving to Okinawa, where “I am often asked by friends, relatives and acquaintances, why?” The soft-spoken Otsuka says “rather than answer with words, I quietly take out one of my many Okinawan photo collections and let them speak for me.”

He views Okinawa’s characteristics—sun so strong that it hurts the skin, an ocean filled with colorful coral, towering cumulus clouds so tall they seem 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, and “as a photographer, I found myself captivated more and more by these picturesque scenes.”

His photography spans the islands, capturing 450 years of the Ryukyu Kingdom’s glory, venturing into many of the prefecture’s 50 inhabited islands, each with its own particular culture. “In the beginning, I was without family or friends on Okinawa and was,” he says, “to a large extent saved by he 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.”

Shokyu Otsuka will be at the Camp Foster PX 1 p.m. ~ 4 p.m. Saturday, and at the Kadena BX Sunday from 1 p.m. ~ 4 p.m.

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