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Visiting Japan’s Final Frontier

November 2017 | Issue 237

Christmas Shopping Gusuku

contents Novermber 2017





On the cover Yubu Island, a tiny islet located next to Iriomote, is best known for its water buffalo-driven taxi service during low tide.



Out + About: Holiday Gift Ideas In the final stretch of your 2017 Christmas shopping? This month’s Out + About features a few uniquely Okinawan gift ideas…as well as the lowdown on special sales coming up at MCCS facilities where you can get that special gift for that special someone.

Restaurant Review: Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant Looking for a place to hold that special dinner with friends, family or that special someone? Look no further!

24 Yaeyama: Visiting Japan’s Final Frontier The islands and islets that make up the Yaeyama Archipelago south of Okinawa, are idyllic places filled with natural beauty and average November temperatures in the high 70s.

58 Gusuku: Castles of the Golden Age This year, Shuri Castle celebrates its 25 anniversary in its latest (and current) incarnation. To celebrate this, we’re taking a trip back in time… to the golden age of castles and kings that once ruled this island.

contents Novermber 2017

Marines + Families 43 Happy 242nd Birthday Marines! This year, MCCS stands ready to support 55 birthday balls and serve 19,690 Marines and celebrants during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball Season with delicious meals and dedicated service.

45 EFMP 101 Want to learn more about EFMP? Attend EFMP 101. This in-depth look at the program discusses enrollment in EFMP, overseas screening, the role EFMP plays in assignment coordination and the benefits of being enrolled in EFMP.

47 Furoshiki Wrapping With furoshiki, you will never need wrapping paper again!

Kids + Parents 51


Game on! A family that games together, stays together! Step away from the electronics and have some quality family time together at Military Family Game Night at libraries on Camps Courtney, Foster and Kinser.


Services Fitness + Fun

Dining + Entertainment



Marine Corps Birthday & Veterans Day Sale November 10–12 Tsunami Scuba will be holding a sale for those who proudly serve and serve proudly at centers island-wide.

A Festive Feast…To-Go Please! Toiling in the kitchen not your favorite preThanksgiving pastime? This year, let the chefs of MCCS do the cooking for you!



November Tours+ Highlights This month, celebrate the 25th anniversary of Shuri Castle’s rebirth, dancing lion dogs known as shishimai and a taste of Polynesia.

Gobble Gobble Gobble! This Thanksgiving, head to an MCCS Club or Restaurant and gobble to your heart’s content.

57 Installing Your Car Stereo Why pay someone when you can do it yourself? At Camp Foster’s Typhoon Motors November FREE Car Care Workshop, the experts will show you how!

Extras 5 Mensôre



Feedback + Show Us!

Taiyo’s Turkey Shoot Nothing says November like turkey, and what’s better than a Thanksgiving turkey? Winning one!

69 Living on Okinawa

70 Marketplace Guide

72 MCCS News

NOVEMBER 2017 | ISSUE 237 COMMANDING GENERAL MCIPAC Brigadier General Paul J. Rock Jr. ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF, MCCS, MCIPAC Edward S. Hutsell DEPUTY ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF BUSINESS & SUPPORT Michael S. Gieseck DEPUTY ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF MARINE & FAMILY Herbert F. Corn CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Jim Kassebaum EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mike Daley MCCS ART DIRECTOR Henry C. Ortega OKINAWA LIVING ART DIRECTOR Margie Shimabukuro GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Lisa Miyagi, Hector Nieves, Catherine Newquist, Jongeun Spencer EDITORIAL Amanda Carrasquillo DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER Thomas Alan Smilie SOCIAL MEDIA Shelbie Thilmony PHOTOGRAPHER Roderica Mathis CULTURAL RESEARCH SPECIALIST Ayako Kawamitsu ADVERTISING SALES & SPONSORSHIP MANAGER Roy Forster ADVERTISING SALES & SPONSORSHIP Yoshihiro Shinzato, Yoriko Yamashiro, Angela Neal, Athena Garcia MARKETING ACCOUNTS & RESEARCH MANAGER Andrew Menges MARKETING ACCOUNTS & RESEARCH Ashley Herring, Kristen Wong, Secoya Holmes, Ashley Snipes, Allison Dixon DISTRIBUTION Kelli Kreider, Desiree Adams BROADCAST Kathlene Millette, Gabriel Archer, Emi Komiya

Okinawa Living, MCCS’s Award Winning Magazine 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 We welcome your comments. Please send letters to

mensôre “Welcome” to Okinawa Living

Give Thanks! November traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday season. With the celebration of the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, Veterans Day as well Thanksgiving, it’s a time for giving thanks—especially to those who have served and still serve today. In Japan, the month of November is also marked by two national holidays: Bunka-no-Hi (National Culture Day) on November 3 and another holiday with ties to giving thanks called “Labor Thanksgiving Day” or Kinrô-Kansha-no-Hi on November 23. Originally a harvest festival, KinrôKansha-no-Hi is also set aside for people in Japan to express gratitude to one another for work well done throughout the year. It honors those who serve in the workforce and celebrates bountiful harvests at the same time—basically a cross between Labor Day and Thanksgiving in the U.S. MCCS Clubs and restaurants will be serving bountiful celebratory feasts this month as well. Turn to page 39 to find the nearest offering Thanksgiving feasts. For those who wish to enjoy their turkey or ham at home, but aren’t overly attached to the thought of slaving for hours upon hours in the kitchen, then MCCS’ Holiday Meals-To-Go—readymade feasts prepared by MCCS’ talented chefs—may be just the ticket. Find out more on page 37. The weather on the island in November often offers an eclectic mix of remaining summer warmth and refreshing autumn cool. "Yaeyama: Visiting Japan’s Final Frontier" on p. 24 showcases the prefecture’s southern-most jewels. "Gusuku: Castles of the Golden Age" on p. 58 takes you on a journey back in time to the golden age of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This month’s lineup is rounded out by the "Holiday Gift Giving Guide" on p. 8, Marine Corps Birthday Balls, a Turkey Shoot, a Polynesean dinner show and much, much more. As always, we thank you for picking up this issue of Okinawa Living Magazine, now time to turn the page and let your journey begin! 

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Okinawa Living is published by MCCS Marketing. Its purpose is to inform the military and civilian community about events and programs offered by MCCS or available in the local market. Dates and times may change. Copyright ©2017 by MCCS. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transferred in any form, by any means, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without written permission of the copyright owner. No federal or Marine Corps endorsement of advertisers and sponsors. MCCS is not responsible for editing content of non-MCCS ads.

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I commend Ms. Erina George for her professional and very helpful attitude. The WestPac Lodge [on Camp Foster] is the best of the best! —via Consumer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Trying to figure out where on Camp Schwab to rent a kayak and if the rental comes with a life vest? —via Facebook Kayak rentals on Camp Schwab are available at the Driftwood (625-3683) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., or on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the gym (625-2442/2618). Rentals include a life jacket. For more information, visit


Day trip to Kudaka Island #okilivingmag #okinawa #islandlife

I had a last minute event and Hansen Outdoor Recreation was able to facilitate all equipment without any problems. Every time outdoor rec equipment is utilized, there has never been any issues. —via CSI Laura McNulty and the staff at Tengan Castle helped the Bechtel Elementary School PTO provide a wonderful “Welcome Back” breakfast for the Bechtel faculty and staff on August 23. They were able to support our needs to have the meal on-site at the school campus. They provided a delicious buffet meal and did all the set-up and clean-up. The prices for the meal and the service was very affordable and well worth the product we received. Laura was a pleasure to work with as were all the staff members from Tengan Castle. We look forward to working with them again in the future and highly recommend them to anyone looking for catering services here on Okinawa! —via ICE


Playing with filters makes ocean photos look way cooler! #okilivingmag

I was wondering how I can apply for any job? —via Facebook You can search and apply for positions with MCCS at Thank you for your interest and good luck with your search! We visited the library on Camp Foster recently and the Innovation Lab was cool. Maybe something like that would be nice if space was available at the Camp Courtney Library. —via CSI


The new playground at Comprehensive Park was blast! #okilivingmag #okinawa #playallday #blueskies

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Gift Ideas 2017


In the Final Stretch of Your 2017 Christmas Shopping? Following are a few uniquely Okinawan gift ideas…as well as the lowdown on special sales coming up at MCCS facilities where you can get that special gift for that special someone.


When it comes to gifts, traditional Japanese and Okinawan arts and crafts for decorating a stateside home have always been perennial favorites.

LACQUERWARE The Ryukyu Lacquerware Shop, located in Itoman City in southern Okinawa, was established over 100 years ago and is a great place to pick up a unique holiday gift. At this shop, visitors can experience an art form that was introduced to Okinawa from China during the 14th and 15th centuries. Some of the techniques include chinkin (gilt line engraving), raden (shell inlay) and the relief appliqué technique unique to Okinawa known as tsuikin. Visitors can also try their hand at creating their own piece of Ryukyu art.

TEXTILES New kimono and obi (kimono belts)—especially those meant to be worn at formal occasions like weddings—can be quite expensive. However, used kimono, obi and haori (the jacket worn over the kimono) can be found at flea markets and antique shops. Yukata, the thin single-layered summer kimono, are moderately priced and are ready-made for children and adults. Noren (doorway hangings), table runners and furoshiki (square wrapping cloth) are also affordable and make excellent souvenirs.


POTTERY The many pottery kilns located throughout the island produce many fine examples of jôyachi (glazed) and arayachi (unglazed) wares including exquisite cups, plates, jars and vases. Prices range from artist to artist—a neophytes coffee cup could cost around ¥500 while a master artisan’s mug may cost as much as ¥20,000. Perhaps the most visible example of Okinawan pottery are the pairs of shîsâ, or lion dogs standing guard against evil spirits on rooftops, gate posts and at the doorways of many Okinawan homes. These shîsâ come in many shapes and sizes with sometimes humorous expressions and make excellent gifts.

RYUKYU GLASSWARE Next to lacquerware, pottery and textiles, Okinawan glassware is probably one of the most popular (and widely purchased) Okinawan crafted gift or souvenir. Post-WWII Okinawan glassware was created exclusively with used cola bottles. However, today it's known for its brilliant color, unique shapes and exquisite craftsmanship. There are many sites located throughout the island where glass is blown into art, and a few where you can witness it firsthand.


SOMETHING UNIQUE Want to send a truly unique gift? How about an origami samurai? Designed by Mitsuaki Sakihara, these beautiful representations of ancient Japanese samurai armor are just as much fun to assemble as they are to admire on your counter-top. These unique works-of-paper-art are available at Masahiro Shuzo (located at Itoman Michi-no-Eki). An English map is available at For more information on the origami samurai, visit


Share the beauty of your home-away-from-home with friends and family in the states. The Best of Okinawa Living, a substantial and comprehensive pictorial compilation of everything Okinawa, covers the island’s history, picturesque locales, interesting cuisine, cultural curiosities, art and artists, national and local festivals and holidays and much more. Omoide: Memories of Okinawa, Okinawa Living Book's newest publication becoming available the end of November, is a collection of images that will elicit fond memories of the island. The Best of Okinawa Living and Omoide: Memories of Okinawa are available island-wide at Exchange Retail Facilities selling books. The Best of Okinawa Living is also available at the Fleet Gift Shop, Marine Gift Shop and Camp Foster Westpac Lodge.



GIVE THE GIFT OF TRAVEL One of the best Christmas gifts that a kid (or child-at-heart) can receive is a trip to Disneyland. Make their wish come true with a visit to the Magical Kingdom of Mickey, Minnie and all their friends! Tours+ will be visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea December 22-26. The tour includes airfare, four nights at the New Sanno Hotel, tickets to both parks and even a free day to experience different Christmas illumination events in Tokyo. Registration for this tour closes at the end of November, so make reservations early! For more information and prices for the Christmas Disneyland and Disney Sea Tour, as well as more on upcoming tours both on and off the island, contact your nearest MCCS Tours+ office or visit them online at

FOR A DIVER OR SNORKELER ‘Tis the season for shopping and gift-giving, and Tsunami Scuba is going to help you save some hard-earned bucks this year while doing so. Chances are you have a friend, coworker or family member who is either already an avid diver or snorkeler or aspires to be one on this gorgeous island. Or, perhaps you fit into this category and should start dropping some hints about the underwater toys you hope to see under the tree this year. Either way, you better get them during Tsunami Scuba’s phenomenal Holiday Extravaganza December 1–4, 8-11 & 15-18 in stores island-wide. Regulators, underwater cameras, masks, fins, dive computers and much, much more will be available. You’ll probably buy a few things for yourself as a reward for being such a great Claus. For more details, call 645-4206 or visit

TIDINGS OF JOY…FROM TAIYO G.C. Looking for a present for a golfer or someone who's thinking of taking up the game? How about picking up a new driver, putter or golf bag for them from the Taiyo Golf Club Pro Shop? Everything in the store will be on sale from November 24 until December 25. Everything in the store will be at least 10% off with selected items up to 40% off! For more information on the Taiyo Golf Club Holiday Sale, call 622-2004 or visit the Taiyo Golf Club at

APurchase GIFT…FOR THEIR TUMMY a Taiyo Gift Card and pair it with dinner reservations at Taiyo Steakhouse—one of the premier on-base dining establishments on island. Taiyo Steakhouse prides itself on serving some of the highest-quality and delicious steaks on Okinawa. And, with gift cards available at increments of $50 and $100, recipients are sure to eat their fill and enjoy every bite! For more information on Taiyo Steakhouse Gift Cards, call 622-2020 or visit Taiyo Steakhouse online at



AGetGIFT…FOR THEIR RIDE them a gift that will make their rides thump! From December 1 through 16, Typhoon Motors islandwide will be cutting their prices on Kenwood automotive audio equipment with savings of up to 20% off on select products. Typhoon Motors will also be offering FREE stall rentals for active duty Marines and Sailors from December 26 to the 31st. For more information on the Kenwood Sale and FREE stall rentals, call your nearest Typhoon Motors or visit them online at

FOR THE CRAFTY Foster Framing & Fine Arts, as well as the Foster Custom Shop, will be featuring sales for the crafty as well as the craft-lovers on Island. Enjoy 25% off all materials featuring the color black at Framing & Fine Arts and the Custom Shop during their Black Friday Sale on November 24. Both will also be having a Holiday Sale November 28–December 2 featuring 15% off all materials. For more information on these sales, contact Foster Framing & Fine Arts at 645-3674 or visit them online at

FOR THE BOWLERS The Camp Foster Bowling Center Pro Shop will be holding a sale December 1–25 that will <cough, cough> “bowl you over!” The Foster Bowling Pro Shop has everything a bowler needs, be they beginners or advanced. They stock a wide-variety of bowling balls, bags, shoes and accessories. They also specialize in custom fitting, resurfacing and reconditioning balls. All items in the shop, including balls of course, will be 10% off. Some select items will be marked down to as much as 30%! For more information on this sale, call the Foster Bowling Center Pro Shop at 645-9225 or visit them online at

AGiftGIFT CERTIFICATE! certificates are always great gift ideas and many are available both on and off base. MCCS Gift Certificates, usable in MCCS facilities island-wide, are available in increments of $5, $10 and $20. A gift certificate from the famed Sam’s Restaurant Group, which specializes in seafood, steak and unique amam biance, is sure to please. ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort offers gift certificates as well. For those in need of a bit of pampering, a gift certificate from Thai Med Spa, Cocok Nail Salon, Esthetique Salon or Life Relaxation Salon will melt their worries away.

Happy Gift Hunting!

P.S. For those that want to go on a good-old gift hunting expedition at the mall, AEON MALL Rycom Okinawa will be having a Black Friday Sale running November 23–26!



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Marine Corps Birthday & Veterans Day Sale


… for Those Who Proudly Serve and Serve Proudly To celebrate Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, Tsunami Scuba will be holding a sale for those who proudly serve and serve proudly November 10–12 at all Tsunami Scuba Centers island-wide. All merchandise, excluding educational materials, rentals, services and booties, will be 10% off. Also, qualifying purchases of $250 or more will be eligible for an additional discount! The best place to start? A mask, snorkel and fins! Masks and snorkels come in a range of colors and styles to set the standard for an underwater look. Fins also come in a variety of styles that can take kicking

to a new level. Additionally, Tsunami Scuba has a full range of buoyancy control devices (BCDs) and regulators in stock. These items are often the first big diving purchases, so why not save some cash when you do? At Tsunami Scuba’s Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday Sale you can also save if you’re looking to suit up in the water with Tsunami Scuba’s selection of wetsuits, dive skins and rash guards. In addition to adding warmth, exposure suits can also protect you from brushing up against rough rocks or coral. Gauges and dive computers will be on sale during this

event as well. These pieces of equipment provide crucial information. Depending on the model, these pieces let you know what depth you’re at, how much air you have left in your tank, which direction you’re swimming and more. On top of everything, Tsunami Scuba will have an assortment of underwater accessories like dive lights, knives cameras and much, much more available during the sale. For more information on the Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday Sale, visit or 




Learn to Swim Late Fall Learn to Swim Sessions

Want to be able to do more than just the doggy paddle? MCCS Aquatics’ Late Fall Learn to Swim program will have participants swimming with confidence in no time. And don’t worry, the pool is heated! Online registration for session 3 of the Late Fall program closes on November 14 and walk-in registration will be accepted at the Foster 50M Pool November 15–17. The class runs from November 20 to December 1 (Monday–Wednesday for the first week and

Monday–Friday for the second). Online registration for session 4 of the Late Fall program closes on November 28 and walk-in registration will be accepted at the Foster 50M Pool November 29–December 1. The class runs from December 4 to December 14 (Monday–Thursday). For more information on the MCCS Aquatics Learn to Swim Program, visit 

Swim to Win


Swim with the Dolphins! If you think you’re fast in the water, then it’s time to put your money where your mouth is! Okinawa Dolphins Swim Team (ODST) Swim Meets are the perfect place to show your mettle (and maybe win some medals). A swim meet will be held at the Foster 50M Pool Saturday, November 18 at 6 a.m. The best thing? It’s FREE! Interested? If you’re a DoD ID card holder you should make haste as registration closes Tuesday, November 14. For more information about ODST, visit them online at 



November Tours+ Highlights


Shuri Castle, Dancing Lion Dogs and a Taste of Polynesia On November 5, choose between (or even attend both) the Shuri Castle Festival or the Shishimai Festival in Uruma City—both tours are sure to fill you with awe and wonder. The Shuri Festival & Kokusai Street Parade tour includes a tour of Shuri Castle and traditional Ryukyu dance performances. The Ryukyu Dynasty Parade on Kokusai Street will feature approximately 700 participants in full period costume—including the king, queen and sapposhi (Chinese envoys). The Shuri Festival & Kokusai Street Parade tour runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission for adults is $23, $16 for children 3–11 and FREE for children 0–2.

Witness the dance of the liondogs known as shishimai at the annual Shishimai Festival held at the Agena Bullfighting Ring. Dancers from throughout the prefecture and mainland Japan will be performing at this festival dressed in lion garb, complete with fearsome masks carved from the wood of the deigo tree. Shishimai dances are thought to bring good luck and prosperity to all who witness them (bonus points for those who are “bitten” by one). The Shishimai Festival Tour runs from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $21, $14 for children 3–11 and FREE for children 0–2. On November 24, give yourself some

welcome relief to turkey leftovers and dine on something exotic. Enjoy flavorful Pan Pacific foods and World Dinner Buffet at the opulent Renaissance Okinawa Resort’s Sailfish Café while watching the performers showcase unique Polynesian cultural dances. The Polynesian Dinner Show tour runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $73, $40 for children 6–11, $28 for children 3–5 and FREE for children 0–2. For more information on any of these tours, call 646-3502. For a complete listing of November tours, visit 



Taiyo’s Turkey Shoot Gobble! Gobble!


Nothing says November like turkey, and what’s better than a Thanksgiving turkey? Winning one! Get in the holiday spirit with Taiyo Golf Club’s annual Turkey Shoot on November 11. Register by November 8 for $30. The event fee does not include the green fee or cart fee. Turkeys and gift certificates will be given as prizes. This teetime event is individual-stroke play with 100% handicaps. For more information, visit or call 098-954-2004/2006. 

Go Golf

No Golf Clubs, No Golf Shoes…No Problem!

Gather your friends and spend an hour with one of our staff professionals at Taiyo Golf Club and we guarantee it will be an Okinawan experience you will not soon forget. Each of Taiyo’s holes are individually carved out of the natural Okinawan landscape and presents one beautiful scene after another. Complete beginners are welcome and Taiyo Golf Club’s staff will work around your schedule. The cost for Go Golf is $15 per person and includes a logoed Taiyo GC hat for each participant. Groups of at least two and no more than six are welcome to call for an appointment at 622-2013/2012 or 098-954-2013/2012 from off base or a mobile phone. Visit Taiyo Golf Club online at 


Visiting Japans Final Frontier




great number of people in the world seem to prefer life in the middle of metropolis, where they can enjoy non-stop, heart-stopping action seven days a week. On the other hand, a great majority of the people that make their living in the fast lane invariably vacation in places surrounded by natural beauty where paces are slower and more relaxed— places like the Yaeyama Island Chain.

The Yaeyama Archipelago, which consists of Ishigaki, Iriomote, Taketomi, Hateruma, Yonaguni and many smaller islands located approximately 420 km southwest of Okinawa, are actually geographically closer to Taiwan than Okinawa, and feature an air that's more Melanesian than Japanese. However, when it comes to stress levels, natural beauty and daily lifestyles, the island chain located in Japan’s southern reaches might as well be light years away from the average street corner in downtown Tokyo.


Ishigaki is the principal island in the Yaeyama chain, even though it is the second largest in the archipelago (after Iriomote). While Ishigaki supports a meager population (almost 49,000 permanent residents), the yearly total of tourists is almost a million. Ishigaki is known throughout the prefecture by monikers such as “the poetic country,” “the song island” and “the dancing village.” The island is nationally noted for the large number of poets, artists, scholars and musicians that were born and raised there. It is thought that many inhabitants of Ishigaki are the descendants of intellectuals, academics and political dissidents banished to the island for not supporting court policy during the times of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Ishigaki also boasts many beautiful natural venues including the Ryugujo limestone caves, Shiraho Reef off of the southeast coast (which features one of the world’s largest and finest examples of blue coral), Mount Omoto (which is the highest point in the prefecture at 526 meters) and of course Kabira Bay. Kabira is not only known as one of the hundred most scenic places in Japan, it is also the first venue in the world where cultured black pearls were first produced.

It is said that the chances of finding a naturally occurring black pearl of any size or quality in the wild are approximately 400,000 to one. Because of this, the black pearl has always been considered a prized treasure, equaled in its beauty only by its monetary value. The gem has adorned the crowns and jewelry of royalty since ancient times. Black pearls were first cultured, or successfully “grown” artificially in Kabira Bay. During the early 1900’s, multitudes of Japanese pearl producing companies (including the world famous Mikimoto Pearl Company of mainland Japan) raced to be the first to perfect the process of growing the rarest of pearls in the warm, crystal clear waters surrounding Okinawa. However, because of the onset of World War II, and the extreme difficulties involved with the process (the failure rate was close to 100%), all who tried were unsuccessful.

It wasn’t until 1963, after almost 50 years of disappointments and abundant hardship, when a local Okinawan-owned business, called the Ryukyu Pearl Company, successfully produced the first cultured black pearls. These jewels were sent to New York (which was considered to be one of the leaders in the jewelry fashion world at the time) and exhibited in boutiques during the year 1968. Since then, the notoriety of the black pearl has spread throughout the world and necklaces made with these precious stones are adored by more and more each year. Cultured black pearls come in many different sizes and although their name may suggest they only come in one color—black—such is not the case. While all are certainly dark in color, some examples may have a bluish cast, some can be brownish and others have a silver hue. However, those with the highest value have a greenish tinged base color with a brilliant, rainbow-like tone in the outer layer. These pearls (depending on size, shape and “the depth” of the color) can cost as much as $80,000 for a single specimen.



Although Iriomote is the largest island of the Yaeyama Archipelago (second only to Okinawa in land mass), it's largely deserted, and is mostly preserved as a wildlife refuge. The Island holds the reputation as â&#x20AC;&#x153;the Galapagos of Japanâ&#x20AC;? and is the home to mighty rivers, beautiful waterfalls, wondrous animal and plant species such as the Iriomote Wildcat, Serpent Eagle and Sakishima Suonoki tree, hot springs and untamed primeval forests that may remind some of a miniature Amazon.


NAKAMA RIVERS The Urauchi River is the longest and largest river in the prefecture with a total length of 39 kilometers, and its banks are lined with multitudes of mangroves. Boat tours up the Urauchi are very popular among tourists, and many of the more adventurous make the journey in single and double seated kayaks. Hiking tours are also available to Kanpiree and Maryudo Waterfalls, which are located farther upstream. The Nakama River is the second longest on Iriomote (at a length of 17.5 kilometers) and is also famous nationwide for its dense mangrove growth along its banks. Boat tours, as well as canoe rentals are available. Mangroves are probably not the first type of tree that comes to mind when in Japan. These trees, which grow in estuaries where the ocean meets a river, used to be prevalent on the Okinawan mainland. However, due mostly to polluted water and industrialization, the trees have mostly died away. An international association for researching the ecology of the mangrove was established in Okinawa in 1992 by scientists and preservationists from around the world.




MANTA WAY The Yonara waterway is a channel located between Iriomote and Kohama Islands (a small island a mere two kilometers away). This waterway happens to be a popular highway for many specimens of Manta Ray—especially between the months of April and June. During this season many divers from throughout the country gather at what is now known as “Manta Way” to swim with the awesome aquatic beasts.


IRIOMOTE LYNX The Iriomote Yamaneko, or Iriomote Wildcat, is an endangered species that is said to have originally come from the Chinese continent (the cats crossed over when Yaeyama was still connected to mainland China). The Iriomote Wildcat, which is only slightly larger than a large house cat fully grown, is perfectly at home in the water as it subsists on amphibians, crustaceans and fish. It is believed that only about 100 of the cats are known to be surviving today. Since it is such a primitive form of cat, it has been called a living fossil since its discovery in 1965.


Taketomi Island is mainly known for its “time capsule” atmosphere and beaches covered with rare “star sand.” This island, which is only ten minutes away from Ishigaki Port by ferry, was protected from the Great Yaeyama Tsunami of 1771 (which took 10,000 lives throughout Yaeyama) by abundant coral reefs. Taketomi’s incandescent white sandy lanes, hibiscus and bougainvillea bedecked one-story houses squatting behind low limestone walls and unspoiled beaches, have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. While the island can easily be toured on foot, the best way to see the streets of Taketomi is on the back of an ox-drawn carriage while being serenaded by the sounds of a sanshin (an Okinawan stringed instrument).


OF TAKETOMI Grains of sand, like many other aspects of the environment, are often taken for granted until you’re given an opportunity to take a closer look. While sand collecting in the bottom of your boots can be irritating, it can actually be quite beautiful when studied closely— especially the sand of Taketomi. A folk story told by Mr. Toru Uesedo (a resident of Taketomi) insists that star sand is all that remains of the children of the North Star and the Southern Cross— infant stars that were born in the warm gentle currents of the seas surrounding the island. Unfortunately, the Southern Cross and the North Star had forgotten to ask the sea gods permission to use the area, and so the gods had the celestial offspring dispatched. The skeletons of these baby stars eventually began to wash up on the shores of Taketomi. Fortunately for the spirits of the infant stars, a kind goddess lived on the beaches of the beautiful island. She took pity on the star children and gathered their remains. Then, she instructed all of her followers to place the bodies in their incense burners so that the sand could follow the smoke back to their parents in the heavens. The islanders still follow this custom today. All legends aside, many scientists state that star sand is actually made up of the exoskeletons (shells) of millions of aquatic creatures called foraminifera. These infinitesimal organisms are among the smallest of the marine protozoa—a kind of minuscule amoeba with a tiny shell. Foraminifera are found in most marine environments, from the relatively shallow inter-tidal regions to the deepest ocean trenches and are a vital link in the world’s marine food chain. On any given continental shelf, there can be tens of thousands of living creatures per square meter of ocean bottom.

IN CLOSING To say that this infinitesimal treatise on the Yaeyama Archipelago is just the tip of the iceberg may just be the understatement of the century. The islands may remind those who are lucky enough to visit of a time machine—offering them a taste of simpler times. Yaeyama not only offers countless sights that must be seen to be believed, multitudes of people with hearts of gold and a whole new meaning to the word “final frontier,” these islands give visitors hefty doses of stress relief and pure unadulterated southern-style Ryukyu. 



A Festive Feast… to-go please!


Let the MCCS Chefs do the Cooking for you This Year! Thanksgiving could easily take the award for best holiday. It’s a whole day dedicated to feeling grateful for all of the good things in life…and eating until the pants just don’t fit anymore. This, of course, comes at a price paid in sweating and toiling in the kitchen for hours upon hours. Care for the former without latter? Well, that delicious and seemingly too-good-to-be-true proposition is completely possible with Holiday Mealsto-go from an MCCS Club or Restaurant. Patrons can order complete packages for a full meal, order just a turkey or ham, or perhaps just a few extra side dishes to add to the rest of a meal. Available packages include Classic 18–20 lb. Turkey Package (serves 15–20) for $125, Deluxe 9 lb. Ham Package (serves 10–14) for $100 and the Holiday Feast Combination Package for $215 (Serves 28–30) which comes with both a 9 lb. ham and 18-20 lb. turkey. All packages come with holiday sides, which include traditional herb-seasoned bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, seasoned green beans, turkey gravy there’s also a choice of pumpkin, pecan or apple pie. All items are, of course, available à la carte. This year, you can also enjoy smoked beef brisket ($150 for a large serving that feeds 10–12 and $125 for a small serving for 8–10 people) as well as enough smoked boneless pork butt for 8–10 friends for only $120. These packages come with coleslaw, BBQ sauce, baked macaroni and cheese au gratin and a choice of pumpkin, pecan or apple pie. Holiday Meals-to-go orders can be placed five days prior to desired pick up date and paid in full two business days prior to pick-up. Clubs will start taking orders on Monday, November 13 with first available pick up on Saturday, November 18. Order times are Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. All arrangements must be made with the club where the packages will be picked up. Participating clubs include the Kinser Surfside (637-3137), Ocean Breeze on Camp Foster (645-3666), Tengan Castle on Camp Courtney (622-9413) and The Palms on Camp Hansen (623-4375). For more information, visit 

ActSeven Bringing the Power and Energy! Formed in 2010, ActSeven consists of eight talented and experienced musicians from the Philippines. Headed by lead male vocalist and band leader Mark Laurel A. Dela Cueva, ActSeven is a proven and versatile band with amazing range. Sharing the frontline are Maricel C. Esposo, Denith Abanilla and Charissa D. De Guzman—all possessing vocal prowess and charm that will surely mesmerize every audience. On the rhythm section, ActSeven is composed of four talented musicians with years of experience. Renaldo F. Salazar (lead guitarist), Glenn R. Redondo (bass), Allen D. Dela Cruz (keyboardist) and Juan Carlo R. Palad on the drums. ActSeven specializes in covering top hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s all the way up to the latest Billboard Top 40 hits. See ActSeven perform LIVE at an MCCS Club near you until November 23. For times, dates and locations, visit or  NOVEMBER 2017 | OKINAWA LIVING 37


Gobble Gobble Gobble!


Celebrate Thanksgiving at an MCCS Club or Restaurant

This year, celebrate Thanksgiving in maximum style with minimum toil; your greatest challenge of the morning, afternoon or evening (depending on when you wish to dine) is what outfit to wear. Looking for an early meal? On Camp Courtney, gobble-gobblegobble up a sumptuous Thanksgiving buffet at Tengan Castle. The award-winning Butler Officers’ Club will also be serving a Thanksgiving buffet along with Camp Kinser’s Surfside and The Habu Pit located onboard MCAS Futenma. Reservations are highly recommended for these buffets. All run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are $19.95 for adults, $9.95 for children 5–11 and FREE for kids under the age of five. Looking for something a little later in the day? Inside The Palms on Camp Hansen a Thanksgiving buffet will be served from noon to 4 p.m. Also, at Camp Schwab’s BeachHead, diners can enjoy a glorious spread from 4 to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving meals at The

BeachHead are $17.95 for adults, $8.95 for children 5–11 and FREE for kids under the age of five. At The Palms, the Thanksgiving spread costs $14.95 for adults, $7.95 for children 5–11 and FREE for kids under the age of five. The Veranda inside Ocean Breeze on Camp Foster will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner buffet from 5 to 9 p.m. This dinner will be $19.95 for adults, $9.95 for children 5–11 and FREE for kids under the age of five. Finally, those wishing to accentuate their holiday with a few rounds of golf at Taiyo Golf Club can enjoy an à la carte brunch at Taiyo Steakhouse from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more details on offerings or to make reservation for a Thanksgiving meal contact a participating facility. Visit MCCS Club or Restaurants online at 



A Seaside Delight Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant Text by Mike Daley, Photography by Roderica Mathis Hours of Operation Restaurant 5–11 p.m. (Last Order 10 p.m.) Bar 5 p.m.–midnight (Last Order 11:30 p.m.) Phone Number 098-926-1118 Payment ¥, CC

Located on the northern outskirts of Mihama, alongside a yacht harbor and fishing port, is a hideaway featuring cuisine that’s as hearty as it is delicate. It is a friendly ambiance with prompt, warm service that will make you smile. Welcome to Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant. The perfect place for gathering with friends, celebrating a birthday with family or a special night out with a loved one after a relaxing evening stroll on a seaside boardwalk. Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant, as its name implies, is also home to an award-winning microbrewery—which offers a lager, weizen, pale ale, IPA and a stout. The central circular bar is the perfect place to unwind with friends accompanied by a few plates of alesteamed mussels with herb butter and garlic—the perfect complement for craft brew. The other half of the restaurant, secluded from the brewery and bar, is a totally different world. Featuring glorious sunset views, the dining area is dominated by the open kitchen where the chefs make their culinary magic happen. Available outdoor terrace seating is an absolute delight. Enjoy the outdoors as gentle breezes mix the soothing scent of the sea with the enchanting aroma of your main entrée. The menu at Chatan Harbor is extensive—featuring cold appetizers like assorted prosciutto and salami (¥1,600), fresh carpaccio made with the day’s catch (¥1,100) and more. Hot appetizers include the aforementioned mussels, which are available in 400g (¥1,200) and

800g (¥2,000), and more. Salads, such as Harbor’s Cobb Salad (¥1,400) and Caesar Salad (¥1,300), complete the prelude to the main course. The Grilled Lobster with Herb Lemon Butter Sauce (¥3,700) is the perfect special occasion dish. Expertly grilled (including the claws) and infused with a simpleyet-complex tasting butter sauce, this entrée is enough to put one into a trance with the aroma alone. A sublime Acqua Pazza (¥2,900) with fresh fish, mussels, asari clams, squid, shrimp and other delights from the sea are also available. Chatan Harbor also features a generous selection of meats that range from T-bones, rib eyes, sirloin and the one-pond “L” bone beef steaks to pork chops, ribs, roasted chicken and more. Pizza, pasta and risotto are also available. Don’t forget to save room for desserts such as Tiramisu (¥600), New York Cheese Cake (¥500) and others! For those looking for the perfect evening, Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant also offers a sunset cruise (on their own catamaran parked just outside the restaurant) and dinner plan. Advance reservations are required. How to get there: Exit Camp Foster’s Gate 5 (Commissary gate) and turn right onto R. 58. Turn left at the traffic light after Goodwill (Esparza’s Tacos and Coffee is on the left of this intersection). Follow this road down to the seaside. Chatan Harbor Brewery & Restaurant will be on your right next to the yacht harbor. 



Happy 242nd Birthday Marines!


2017 Marine Corps Birthday Balls Season

Although celebrated informally, it is said that the first official Marine Corps “birthday ball” was held in 1925 in Philadelphia. This event was attended by well-known national leaders, representatives from all military services, the Secretary of the Navy and the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps General John A. Lejeune. The celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday was formalized throughout the Corps on October 28, 1952 by direction of the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. The traditions detailed in the Marine Corps Drill Manual approved by General Shepard are still carried on in Marine Corps Birthday Balls held throughout the United States today as well as on Okinawa in MCCS clubs. Since 2003, MCCS clubs have hosted an average of 44 birthday balls, annually serving approximately 15,667 celebrants. Last year MCCS hosted 48 balls and spent almost 12,840 labor hours (excluding hours spent in planning and preparation) to ensure that the special

occasion was as memorable as it deserved. This year, MCCS Food & Hospitality stands ready to support 55 balls and serve 19,690 Marines and celebrants during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball season with delicious meals and dedicated service. Due to this support, several MCCS clubs will be closing during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball season. The Habu Pit on MCAS Futenma will be closed on October 27, November 2, 8 and 16. The BeachHead on Camp Schwab will be closed November 7 and 9. The dining room and the lounges at The Palms on Camp Hansen will be closed for dinner October 26, November 2, 9 and 16 (Chili’s Express will remain open). The Butler Officers’ Club dining room will be closed October 9 through December 16 (they will be open November 23 for the Thanksgiving buffet and resume normal operations January 3). The Kinser Surfside Ballroom will be closed December 2 in support of the 242nd Marine Corps Birthday Ball season. 



Succeeding in Online Courses Brief Continue Your Academic Journey in Your Home-Away-from-Home Whether you serve a basic four year enlistment or go the distance to retire after 20 years of service, the Marine Corps encourages all of their members to use their time wisely and level up their education before they return to the civilian world—which for some means going beyond the undergraduate degree. Online learning is a great way to continue your academic journey in your home-away-from-home. The Camp Foster Education Center will be offering The Keys to Online Graduate Success on November 15 to cover the different types

of possible barriers students may face and how to overcome them, available resources and developing online etiquette that is vital for fostering positive academic online relationships. MCAS Futenma will offer The Keys to Online Graduate Success November 22 and Camp Hansen will host their brief on November 29. All briefs run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information about this and other education programs, call 645-7160 or go to educationandcareerservices. 

EFMP 101


What is EFMP? The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) works with military and civilian agencies to provide support for service members and their families to make sure they have access to specialized medical, education and mental resources. EFMP also answers any questions they may have regarding an exceptional family member. This hands-on approach includes workshops, discussion forums, family events and more. Want to learn more about EFMP? Attend EFMP 101. This in-depth look of the program discusses enrollment in EFMP, overseas screening, the role EFMP plays in assignment coordination and the benefits of being enrolled in EFMP. Different resources both in the states and here on island are also covered in EFMP 101. This class is recommended for all families newly enrolled in EFMP, unit commanders, Family Readiness Officers and unit EFMP Representatives. The next EFMP 101 will take place November 17 from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Camp Kinser Education Center. For more information, call 6459237 or visit EFMP at 



Saving and Investing Classes Start Saving Today!


Sure, money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can grow when you save and invest wisely. Money cannot buy you happiness either, but it sure can enhance peace of mind. Luckily, to achieve freedom from the anxiety of lack of financial security, you don’t have to be a genius. In fact, you just need to know the basics, form a plan and stick to it. Saving for the future is even more critical today with the changes to the military retirement system and social security. In fact, many millennials have lost faith in the idea that social security will be there when they reach their time of need. Therefore, it’s important to equip yourself with the education and tools needed to have a secure future. Not sure where to start? Try a Saving and Investing class! In this class, various saving and investing tools will be explored. Also, attendees will learn basic investing techniques and how to take advantage of compound interest. This class is essential to those who struggle to create reachable goals. So, don’t sit this one out! The worst thing you can do is assume you have time to worry about it later. Investments need time to work for you. Therefore, the only thing worse than starting late is never starting at all! Learn how to set a goal, make a plan and start saving today! To view dates and times for the class, and additional financial planning resources, visit 

Furoshiki Wrapping That’s a Wrap! We all dream of a Christmas morning without the flood of crumpled wrapping paper all over the place. How about the thought of not spending a small fortune just on paper that’s going to be ripped apart anyway? When was the last time you not only skipped the hassle of expensive paper, but used something eco-friendly for your gifts? With furoshiki, you’ll never need wrapping paper again! MFP-R is offering an opportunity to learn about the Japanese art of furoshiki wrapping. Furoshiki is a square cloth that is mostly used to wrap gifts. However, it’s often used for carrying goods or simply as a decorative accessory as well. The cloth comes in many different sizes and designs, making everyday items into exceptionally beautiful pieces! Attend this workshop and learn how just a piece of material can have a huge impact on more than just your holiday season. Enjoy an introduction to a simple cloth with deep historical roots in Japanese culture. Gain knowledge of the origin of furoshiki and some of the basic knots and folding styles. Imagine toting your water bottle in a fashionable carrier that you folded yourself! Need a lunchbox? Learn the method to wrap it and carry your lunch in style! How about a belt? There’s a technique for that too! The class will be held November 12, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. It will be located at Camp Foster in Bldg. 445, MFP-R. For more information or to register, please call 645-2104.  NOVEMBER 2017 | OKINAWA LIVING 47


Community Counseling Program Women’s Healing and Empowerment Group Even when it looks like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, remember that there are always options out there—even when you feel like there aren’t any. The MCCS Behavioral Health’s Community Counseling Program (CCP) offers numerous resources to aid you in whatever you’re battling. The CCP Women’s Healing and Empowerment Group is a gathering for adult and mature adolescent females who have experienced trauma, such as child maltreatment, domestic violence or sexual assault. The group gives them a safe place to express their thoughts and feelings and an opportunity to support others as well as receive support. The focus of this group is to build awareness on the effect of trauma and learn healthy coping skills to alleviate stress, enhance relationships and improve self-worth. For more details on the CCP Women’s Healing and Empowerment Group, as well as other CCP offerings, visit behavioralhealth. 


The Alpha-Stim AID “I feel like I’ve tried almost everything. I’ve tried medication. A lot of it just selfmedication, drinking. Trying to do something to get relief long enough to get just a little rest somewhere. It was like Alpha-Stim just melted the anxiety away. I could not believe the relief. How many times have I dealt with the anxiety because I didn’t want to take the drugs? Alpha-Stim allows me to fix my problem without stopping life. Life still goes on. To have a solution to the problem that allows me to go on about my life without any adverse effects is incredible. If it can help me this much, then it can help anybody” says US Marine and Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyers. The Alpha-Stim AID is a Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation* (CES) device that uses low-level electrical current to safely and effectively treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. Alpha-Stim is available Monday– Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. at Bldg. 2631 on Camp Hansen and Bldg. 439 on Camp Foster. For more details, visit  NOVEMBER 2017 | OKINAWA LIVING 49


Play Mornings Building Better Families Join the MCCS New Parent Support Program (NPSP) at the Camp Kinser Chapel every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon for Play Mornings. Moms and dads with children newborn through 5 years are invited to come engage with their little ones in early learning activities. These fun mornings are open to all branches, DoD civilians and their family members. Play Mornings are part of a larger series from NPSP designed to help parents from second trimester all the way through their child’s entry into kindergarten. From Journey through Pregnancy and Baby Boot Camp to the annual Ages and Stages event, NPSP is here to help. Call 645-0396 for more information and to register for Play Mornings. More information can also be found at 


Military Family Game Nights A family that games together, stays together! On November 4, step away from the electronics and have some quality family time together at Military Family Game Night from 5 to 7 p.m. at libraries on Camps Courtney, Foster and Kinser. At Military Family Game Night, patrons can get together with loved ones and play games such as Jenga, Battleship, Scrabble, Sorry, Smash Up, Apples to Apple, King of Tokyo, Spoons, Uno, The Game of Life, Yahtzee, Monopoly or their own favorite analog hands-on interactive game to bring the family together. Refreshments will be available. For more information on Military Family Game Night, call 645-6453. Visit MCCS libraries online at and educationandlibraries. 




Baby Boot Camp

Journey through Pregnancy

Baby on the Way?

All About Those Nine Months of Wonder

Baby Boot Camp is a parenting education class for expectant parents in their third trimester. In this class, mothers and fathersto-be are educated on the birthing process and first six weeks of their child’s life. The goal of Baby Boot Camp is to enhance the confidence and competence of new (and new again) parents. The class consists of hands-on interactive parenting education in topics such as bathing, feeding, soothing, safety, managing early parenting stressors, education on shaken baby syndrome, sudden infant death syndrome and the overall prevention of child abuse and neglect. Parents will receive community resource and referral information on all programs offering family services. This is a one day event held monthly. Visit for information on next available class dates. 

Becoming a new parent comes with fears, uncertainties and lots of questions. Sometimes you just need help. New Parent Support Program provides that help to families coping with stress, isolation, pre-deployment, post-deployment and the everyday demands of parenthood. On Tuesdays on Camp Courtney, Wednesdays on Camp Kinser and Thursdays on Camp Foster, expectant mothers and fathers are invited to “Journey through Pregnancy.” Journey through Pregnancy is a 12-week educational workshop where participants can learn everything about welcoming the newest member of their family. Topics include understanding pregnancy, understanding birth, mother as well as infant care, better breastfeeding and much more. Call 645-0396 or visit for details and to register. 



CYP Thanksgiving Feast Give thanks… Kishaba Youth Center members and their parents are invited to join staff members at their Home for the Holidays Thanksgiving Feast November 17 at 2:30 p.m. At this event, youth and parents will be invited to celebrate and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with the staff and peers. They will also be given the opportunity to highlight and share what they are thankful for this year—no matter how big or how small. The Kishaba Youth Center is located on Camp Foster next to Zukeran Elementary School. Call them at 645-8015 for more information. Visit the MCCS Children and Youth Program at mccsokinwa. com/cyp. 

Native American Feast


Celebrate Native American heritage

November is Native American Heritage Month—a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and history. It’s also a month to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Celebrate Native American heritage at the Kishaba Youth Center Native American Fest November 10. Attendees will be given facts about Native American history and participate in activities to show appreciation for the contributions

Native Americans have given to the United States throughout the country’s history. The Kishaba Youth Center Native American Fest is open to both members and non-members ages 10 through 12 years of age. The Kishaba Youth Center is located on Camp Foster next to Zukeran Elementary School. Call them at 6458015 for more information. Visit the MCCS Children and Youth Program at mccsokinwa. com/cyp.  NOVEMBER 2017 | OKINAWA LIVING 55


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Installing Your Car Stereo Why Pay Someone When you can Do it Yourself? Many drivers have original factory stereos in their cars because even though the potential sound quality improvements are appealing, actually installing them is a daunting thought. Although a new audio system can offer improved sound and connectivity features like Bluetooth, GPS, smartphone connectivity and more, drivers stop dead and turn tail when they see a wire crimper. Well, the truth is, you neither need a degree in automotive engineering nor have to remove the whole dashboard and car doors to install a new head unit or speakers! Head over to Camp Foster Typhoon Motor’s FREE Car Care Workshop on Stereo Installation November 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for step-by-step instruction on revitalizing your car’s sound system. Space is limited; call 645-7169 to RSVP. For more details, call Foster Typhoon Motors or visit 

Typhoon Motors Thanksgiving Special INGIMAGE.COM

Gobble-Gobble-Gobble up That Stall! Attention active duty Marines and Sailors! Rent a stall for FREE and work on your ride at any Typhoon Motors island wide November 24. There’s no better time to install that brand new stereo, rotate (or replace) your tires, change the oil or even get to the bottom of that strange humming sound that’s been driving you absolutely insane for the longest time. For more information on Typhoon Motors Thanksgiving Special FREE stall rentals, call your nearest Typhoon Motors or visit them online at 





During days long past, Okinawa did not really have any large, bustling cities or even a formal form of central government. The island’s beautiful landscapes sustained a sparse population, and only brief periods when a strong ruler would rise to the top and take control of the surroundings. However, between the 12th and 15th centuries, this changed forever. Today this golden age is known as the Sanzan or “Three Kingdoms” Era when the Okinawan mainland was divided into three distinct kingdoms: Nanzan (the south), Chûzan (in central Okinawa) and Hokuzan (the north).


HOKUZAN Although the least populated of the three, the northern kingdom was the largest—mostly consisting of vast reaches of rolling hills covered with emerald green subtropical forests, crystal clearstreams fed by cheerfully bubbling springs and rocky cliffs overlooking cobalt seas. The main castle of the northern kingdom was Nakijin Castle. Nakijin was once a mighty fortress, designed to defend the rulers of Hokuzan. It was one of the largest and most impressive of the Three Kingdoms Era castles with gardens, stables, several residences for the king’s most important aides and a palace for the king at the highest, innermost section. Archeological studies conclude that construction on the castle began long before the Three Kingdoms Era—during the 13th century. The long curving rough-hewn limestone walls stretch over 1.5 kilometers with main gates at the southern and northern ends.



There are a total of 38 confirmed castle sites in Itoman. Many hundreds of years ago, numerous rival chieftains built castles in various places throughout the southern reaches of the island. The largest of these, Nanzan Gusuku, is believed to have been built around the 14th century. The ruins of this castle are on top of a small hill close to the Takamine Elementary School. Even though all that remains of the castle today are sections of wall and foundations, and the air is filled with the sounds of children playing and birds singing, the aura of royalty still pervades the ancient remnants of the Three Kingdoms Era. Although small, Nanzan is famous for two things— dragon boat races (which were thought to have been brought from China by the younger brother of a Nanzan king) and a spring of water that was both the foundation of the kingdom’s prosperity and the cause of its downfall. The Kadeshi Springs, which was the principal fresh water supply for the Nanzan Kingdom, still produces water today. It is believed that the Nanzan monarch Tarumai caused the ultimate downfall of the kingdom by trading the rights to the spring for an exquisite folding gold screen owned by the King of Chūzan. As a result of this foolhardy transaction, his people lost respect for him and the kingdom was subsequently overthrown by Chūzan.



In the beginning of the 14th century, a child who would change the destiny of the Ryukyu people was born—his name was Satto. Growing up in the kingdom of Chūzan, Satto’s ambition eventually led him to the throne. When the young Chūzan king died in 1349, Satto (then a district governor) claimed the throne. In 1372, the first emperor of the Ming dynasty sent envoys to the Ryukyu Islands calling upon the rulers to acknowledge Chinese supremacy. King Satto saw this as an opportunity and Chūzan developed a lucrative trade relationship with China. This relationship with China had a profound impact on the Ryukyu people. The trading of goods brought wealth and prosperity to Chūzan and the nobility of the Ryukyu Kingdom was eager to learn the ways of China. As a result, many students were sent to Nanking to study philosophy and etiquette, learn skills from Chinese craftsmen and gather the latest gossip from the imperial court. Those who ventured to China returned with books, textiles, ceramics, stringed instruments and ironware. Such things collectively fanned the flames of desire among the Ryukyuan nobility for the finer things in life. After the death of Satto in 1395, his son, Prince Bunei, was the heir apparent. However, the young prince was unable to command the loyalties of the lords who had served his father and rebellion arose within Chūzan. One of the younger lords, a man called Sho-Hashi, rose to prominence.








In 1407, after more than a decade of rebellion, Sho-Hashi finally seized the throne and drove Bunei from the kingdom. Conquering the kingdom of ChĹŤzan was only the beginning. He then attacked Nakijin Castle in 1416 and, after a siege and dramatic battle, the King of Hokuzan and his loyal aji committed suicide within the castle to escape the disgrace of being captured. After a bitter succession, dispute arose in Nanzan following the death of their aged king in 1429. Sho-Hashi moved swiftly to defeat the quarrelling

aji and claim this kingdom as well. The three Ryukyu kingdoms were now united as one and the Three Kingdoms Era had ended. King Sho-Hashi ushered the Ryukyu Kingdom into a golden age of relative peace and prosperity. Under him and his successors, life in medieval Okinawa reached new heights. Sho-Hashi moved his court to a little known castle at Shuri. This castle was subsequently enlarged and embellished, becoming one of the most magnificent castles in the East.



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NAKIJIN CASTLE Many ruins of Chūzan’s gusuku still remain—with the three most prominent being Nakagusuku, Zakimi and Katsuren. The Nakagusuku Castle Ruins are the second largest castle ruin site on the island. Although the exact date of the original structure is not clear, the third structure was built during the mid-14th century. The Zakimi Castle ruins, located in Yomitan Town, sit on a 125-meter high hill. Zakimi

was erected during the 15th century by Lord Gosamaru. Katsuren Castle was built by Lord Amawari sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries. Considered an enlightened ruler that was beloved by his subjects, Amawari was overthrown by the more powerful kings of Shuri. The castle was originally built with three enclosures structured in terraces. However, all that remain today are the stone walls.


SHURI CASTLE Shuri-jo, or Shuri Castle, is considered by many as one of the most substantial physical examples of the golden age of the Ryukyu Kingdom on Okinawa. The only gusuku restored to a semblance of its former glory, Shuri-jo was not only the residence of royalty and a seat of government, it was also the spiritual center of the Sho dynasties. Shuri Castle’s long history is equally seasoned with calamity, despair, patience, determination and triumph. The castle’s main edifice, or Seiden, has been rebuilt from the ground up several times. And, throughout its lifetime of several centuries, it has seen many Chinese ambassadors, called sapposhi, and enlightened rulers walk its halls side by side. However, the Seiden has also hosted looters, thieves and desperate soldiers garbed in threadbare uniforms tearing up its walls to use for firewood as well. Although the exact date is unknown, it's thought that the original Shuri Castle was built during the year 1453 AD on a hill overlooking

DARK TIMES Life at Shuri Castle was not always good. By the year 1660 AD, the castle’s main building had already burned down twice (reconstruction was completed in 1671). During the year 1709, another fire consumed three major buildings including the Seiden. Reconstruction began again in 1712 and was completed in 1715. The castle stood as the home of the kings of Ryukyu for well over a hundred years after the 1715 remodeling. However, officials of the Japanese Government, accompanied by several hundred armed troops, gathered the members and officials of the last ruling class of the Ryukyu Kingdom and presented to them a document that






the East China Sea. Shuri Castle not only had religious significance, it was also the focus of many artistic and cultural activities. Also, the surrounding area housed many of the greatest musicians, dancers, artisans and craftsmen of the kingdom.



signified the end of an era—the official proclamation that dissolved the kingdom and made Okinawa a prefecture of Japan. What followed was the beginning of one of Shuri Castle’s darkest periods. The Seiden, once home to kings, was converted into a barracks for the occupation. Decorative tapestries and fixtures were ripped away and sleeping mats were strewn throughout the once-proud halls. Both the floorboards and the ceiling began to rot and many portions of the wall were torn down for firewood. Eventually, the garrison was withdrawn from Shuri Castle following Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. However, the Japanese Government retained ownership of Shuri Castle for another 30 years, until the land was sold back to the Okinawan ward of Shuri in 1907. Because the castle and its grounds had received little or no repairs during this period, it had deteriorated into a feeble, wispy shadow of its former glory. The next few decades were once again a period of reconstruction. During the late 1930s, the Seiden, as well as 26 other






buildings in the vicinity, were designated as National Treasures by the Japanese Government. The number of recognized cultural assets concentrated in one place was only eclipsed by Kyoto and Nara. This temporary golden period in Shuri Castle’s history did not last very long. With the onset if WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army once again occupied Shuri Castle. Troops expanded the natural caves and dug extensive tunnel systems under the castle to make room for their headquarters and command posts. The areas surrounding Shuri were also heavily fortified. And, with such a high concentration of Japanese military assets, it wasn’t surprising that Shuri Castle (as well as the surrounding area) was reduced to rubble during the war.

REBIRTH After WWII, reconstruction once again began on the hill where Shuri Castle once stood. However, workers weren’t building a castle, they were constructing a school—the University of the Ryukyus. While Shurei-mon (the main gate of Shuri Castle) was rebuilt in 1958,



and other bridges and gates followed, plans to restore the castle to its former glory remained stalled because of budgetary concerns. Finally, after years of lobbying, gathering research and convincing the University of the Ryukyus to relocate, plans to begin rebuilding the Seiden one more time came to fruition in 1989. Many of the island's best artists and artisans were gathered and their talents and skills were stretched to their limits in the reconstruction of the castle. The king’s throne alone, which is decorated with raden lacquerware techniques using turban shells, took two years of diligent labor by master lacquerware artisan Koin Maeda (considered one of the best on the island). The actual restoration process itself reignited interest in older arts from the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom as well. Traditional Ryukyu arts such as lacquerware, textiles, pottery and Okinawan music and dance began to gain interest among the islands younger generation. Shuri Castle Park, modeled after the 18th century version with a motif of “golden

dragons and auspicious polychrome clouds,” was partially opened to the public in November 1992. During the year 2000 the castle was added to the worldwide list of World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO. It quickly became Okinawa’s most popular tourist attraction—drawing more than two million visitors every year from throughout Japan. The treasure that was thought lost forever so many times had once again been returned to its former glory—rising from the ashes and rubble like the golden dragons emblazoned on its vermillion pillars. Many modern-day Okinawans agree that Shuri Castle is one of the most important symbols of Okinawa, much like during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Most will agree that however many times Shuri Castle is reduced to rubble, it will rise again because the ideals that the castle represents cannot be destroyed by war, fire or despair. 

Shuri Castle celebrates its 25 anniversary in its latest (and current) incarnation. Many special festivities are being planned for this year’s Shuri Castle Kingdom Festival—including parades in full period costume, song and dance performances and much more. Tours+ will be offering a tour to experience these festivities. Call them at 646-3502 for more information.








California Roll Ingredients 3-4 go rice (One “go” is about 3/4 cup) Vinegar mixture: 2 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tbsp. mirin (rice vinegar) 1 tsp. salt Avocado, sliced into strips Kanican (imitation crab meat), sliced into strips Raw salmon, sliced into strips Nori (dried seaweed) Sesame seeds Method of Preparation: Sushi Rice 1. Steam rice and place in a wide shallow container (such as a cookie sheet lined with saran wrap to prevent sticking). 2. Add vinegar mixture and mix into rice, being careful not to smash the rice. 3. Fan the rice to cool it off. The Roll 1. Place saran wrap on a bamboo rolling mat and spread rice in a layer on saran wrap. 2. Line seaweed on the bed of rice, and place avocado, salmon and crab in rows along the center. 3. Roll the rice (don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap). 4. Spread sesame seeds on a flat surface and roll the cylinder in the sesame seeds to liberally coat the rice. 5. Carefully slice the cylinder with a sharp knife in two-inch segments (be careful not to smash).

Matsutake Mushrooms Many in Japan believe that autumn is the season for sports, reading and hearty appetites. Because of this, many tasty fruits and nuts can be found in stores throughout Japan. Chestnuts, eggplants and saba (mackerel) are some of the most popular autumn foods. Even so, the most well-known (as well as expensive) is probably the matsutake mushroom. Matsutake are usually cooked with rice or grilled in foil. The strong aroma of this mushroom is equated with luxury. Unfortunately, not very many people can actually enjoy what is considered the “king of Japanese autumn food.” Like caviar and foie gras, matsutake mushrooms are very expensive. One single good-sized specimen can easily cost from ¥10,000 to ¥200,000 and more. This is because conditions for growing matsutake are very hard to produce artificially. Also, even in a natural environment, these sensitive mushrooms are difficult to find. Like the mushroom’s name suggests ("matsu" means pine tree and "take" means mushroom), matsutake only grow in red pine forests. Once a matsutake is found in a mountainous area, the price of the land skyrockets. This is probably why matsutake are sometimes called “mountain diamonds.” 


Uchinâguchi Corner English







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Awards of Excellence The Food and Hospitality Excellence Award Program was established by Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) to recognize food and hospitality activities that exceed the highest level of standards of operational excellence and service to Marines, Sailors and the military community. The award is based on overall customer service, financial performance, human resources and operational excellence. Facilities worldwide are appraised. The Food and Hospitality Excellence Awards are voted on by a nine-person panel of experts at the MCCS HQ level. The panel evaluates everything from ICE comments, sanitation scores, employee training, facility appearance, staff appearance (uniforms), financial performance, creativity of programming, special events and overall program performance. This year there were a total of 46 awards presented for the entire United States Marine Corps. Out of the 46 awarded, four facilities on Okinawa received recognition for their excellence—The WestPac Lodge and Ocean Breeze Consolidated Club on Camp Foster, the

Camp Courtney Temporary Living Facility (TLF) and The Palms Consolidated Club on Camp Hansen. The Palms received the honor of being named the “2016 Club of the Year”—the “crème de la crème” of MCCS Food & Hospitality. The Ocean Breeze was once again recognized for “food and hospitality activities that exceeded the highest level of standards of operational excellence and services” and “thinking outside of the box.” The WestPac Lodge staff members were lauded for going above and beyond in their efforts to maintain their facility and provide the comforts of home to those arriving or departing Okinawa. The Camp Courtney TLF staff members were praised for their teamwork, dedication and going “above and beyond” in the execution of their duties. These four facilities exemplify MCCS’ overall mission to make Okinawa a home-away-from-home for Marines, Sailors, family members and other members of the military community stationed on the island. 

Okinawa Living Magazine  

November, 2017

Okinawa Living Magazine  

November, 2017