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Some photos of Okinawa

our four bedroom house until I left for college

growing up near the sea

lots of space and standalone bungalows

my friend Suzy in front of our house

the gang at the playground

visiting Okinawa in 1999: Shinsho-san and Mr Spain

(Hold still the mouse on the photo to see the words. Click to get a bigger picture.)

The Diary of Anne Ku


19 May 2000 Friday

I have received so many encouraging emails from the alumni of my high school in Okinawa as well as friends from elsewhere in the world.   We share the reality of a subtropical island half-way between mainland Japan and Taiwan.  It is only in hindsight that I realise what a wonderful environment it was to grow up in.

Last November I stopped over Okinawa on my way round the world.  My family members have long since left the place.  We grew up knowing that it was never permanent, that after high school we would go to the US for a college education, that after our parents retired they would leave the island.  We never questioned why we had to leave.  We never imagined that we had a choice about it. The few people we knew that had stayed on, after high school, after retiring, did so because they had relatives on Okinawa - or so we were led to believe.

This acceptance of the impermanence of it and that we were merely guests became a familiar feeling I shared with other expatriates later on.   We cherished the memories even more, I think.  We also had an exit route. If things didn't work out, we could always leave and move on (earlier than planned).   However, when I visited my neighbours that were due to retire and move on, I noticed a reluctance.  Why, they asked, do we have to retire at such and such an age?   Why must we leave?

We were, after all, accustomed to moving within the neighbourhood all our lives.  First we were given a house with two double bedrooms and one single bedroom.  As we grew older, we moved to a four double bedroom house.   After I left for college, my family moved to a smaller house.  Housing, utilities, transport, and education were all provided for.  No one locked their doors.  It was a safe and sheltered environment.  Our parents worked together and we went to school together from the moment we stepped on the island to the day we finally left.  Thanks to the Internet, we can now transfer that "time" into cyberspace.