Articles by mike

Photo Essay: Okinawan Sumo Wrestling

Photo Credit: Visit Okinawa

Sumo Wrestling (Shima) in Okinawa is different from Japanese Sumo.


July 13, 2012 9 comments

Ancestor Worship in Okinawa, Japan

A gathering at the family tomb for Shimi

During the month of April, each year, a Sunday gathering takes place at the family tomb (Ohaka). The occasion, known as Shimi, resembles a family reunion and picnic combined. Throughout the month, every Sunday, the roads may appear to have more traffic and many vehicles will be seen parked alongside the roads close to family tombs.


April 22, 2011 3 comments

An Okinawan Wedding

Okinawa is a chain of islands forming Japan’s southernmost Prefecture. The islands were once an independent nation known as the Ryukyu Kingdom. Some traditions and cultural events seen in Okinawa would seem foreign, even to other citizens of Japan. The Okinawan Wedding is one of them.

This Photo Essay shows some of the events that take place during the typical Ryukyu Wedding. Not shown are the 300-500 guests filling the Wedding Hall. They are seated at tables drinking and dining.

The Typical Ryukyu Wedding

Imagine a formal marriage ceremony, in any western country, being conducted at the wedding reception. Then, add a dinner theater with floor shows, dancers and live bands and keep it lively for a few hours.

The performers, on stage, have rehearsed for months. They are all friends, family, classmates, neighbors or coworkers of the bride and groom. They are good. They could be part of a Las Vegas production.

Each photo in this essay includes the time it was taken. This should give you a sense of timing and what takes place, as the bride and groom go through more than a few changes of attire during the conduct of an Okinawan Wedding Ceremony.

Okinawan Wedding Attire


March 2, 2011 18 comments

Dragonboat Races in Okinawa

Picture Postcards has been moved to Mondays to help brighten up that back to work feeling.

Golden Week, in late spring in Japan, is a time of celebration, relaxation and dragonboat races. Michael Lynch has contributed this eye-catching photo of one of the largest dragonboats used in the Okinawa races.

Dragonboat W by Michael Lynch

Do you have photos to share? Add them to our Picture Postcards of the World photo group, and we’ll pick our favourites to feature on PocketCultures. November’s theme is festivals.


November 15, 2010 7 comments

An Eisa Festival: Photo Essay

Eisa is a dance unique to Okinawa Prefecture. Similar, in some ways, to the dances performed during Obon (An ancestor worship event in mainland Japan), Eisa may be seen anytime, year-round in Okinawa.

The photos below were taken on August 14, 2010 at an Eisa Matsuri (Festival) in Kin Village, my hometown. This time of year there’s a Festival going on somewhere every weekend and I attend as many as possible, sometimes two or three a day.

Traditionally all the performers had to be single men and women between the ages of 20 and 29. Over the past few years it has been difficult to find enough dancers to fill the Eisa Groups so, today many of the participants are married and in their thirties.

For now, I’ll let the photos and captions tell the story and introduce you to some of the characters.


August 20, 2010 6 comments

Five Unusual Servings I’ve Encountered in Japan


Sashimi (Raw Fish) has probably been eaten by lots of cultures other than Asian but, it’s more popular in Japan than anywhere I’ve ever been. In fact, now that I’ve become accustomed to eating fresh Maguro (Tuna) I can’t understand how anyone can eat that grey stuff called Tuna out of a can.


July 7, 2010 15 comments