The Cocktail Party
You don’t see that many Americans on Heiwa Street.
The street, to be there, was quite exhilarating for me as a child. The street was full of stores selling American candies and Japanese robot toys. All else, Okinawan traditional food, musical instruments, etc., seemed dated and smelled of history.
But now, what catch my eye there are the remnants of dusty history; Bingata, Okinawan traditional fabric, or Sanshin, guitar-like Okinawan musical instrument. The street had the significant historical and cultural traces of the past. It was formed after the war, and thrived during the dark era after the war, experienced miraculous growth during the economical upheaval, and kept its existence through the dismissive postmodern days. Underneath the things American and Japanese, new and newer, there is a rich, although diminishing, Okinawan culture.
As I read several books on postwar Okinawan history, I came to see the fact that in order to effectively occupy the islands, the American military tried to eulogize the culture and things that were in the prewar Okinawa, which were destroyed completely during the war, so that the people can get motivated and have something they can cling onto. And it succeeded. It was the Americans who revived in postwar Okinawan people their traditions. Do the Okinwans believe what the Americans believed very Okinawan as quintessentially Okinawan?
But now even the sad fact itself is a history. Many of the stores are gone out of business and the street seem desolated. I see Bingata swaying in the wind.
Many of those fabrics seem to be mass-produced, made of polyester. Yet, to me they seemed beautiful.