By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

castle plaque on Okinawa trip

On the first leg of our Okinawa trip, we stopped overnight in Hawaii, and got to witness a beautiful sunset along with a rainbow.  That night inspired this haiku:

Waikiki sunset!

tourists clamor in the street

soba in bellies


Here are two highlights of our trip on video, as promised.  These kata took place at Kiyan Kyoshi’s Okinawa Kenpo exchange event:

Kaicho Passai:

Group Naihanchi Shodan:


THINGS IN OKINAWA (that I had not experienced elsewhere)

-Light switches outside of bathroom doors

-Bathroom shoes/clogs for all to use at the Karate Museum, Budokan, and Jr. High School, since you were barefoot when you were there

-Most bathrooms with multiple stalls had the partitions go ceiling to floor, or almost all the way down

-Japanese toilets

-Squatty potties (floor level toilets)

-Electronic toilets with several buttons for music, flushing sounds, actual flushing and spraying water (bidet)

-Short western-style toilets in public places, in addition to regular-sized ones (I have only seen these in American preschools and daycares.)

-Toilets with little sinks built into the top of the tank so that when you flush, clean water runs for hand-washing, then fills the toilet tank.  This is a great water-saving (& space-saving) design that should be expanded on!

-Taller benches for smaller people


-Smaller-than-U.S. stairs

-Vending machines on almost every corner

-Extreme HUMIDITY & hot!

-Difficult building signs in mix of kanas and kanji

-No sunsets on any of the nine evenings we were there – even with clouds in the sky – just gray at dusk

-No air conditioning in dojo’s (no fans either)

-Driving on the left side of the street

-Shisas, shisas everywhere  DSC04717

-Booths at two restaurants where you sit at floor level with your legs in a pit to be able to have a seat on the floor and yet lounge like a westerner with legs below your chair.

-Almost all waitstaff took orders, brought food out to the table in general, or all the tables, to see who would claim it, then expected you to tell them what you’d ordered when you were ready to pay so they could ring up the bill.

-DELICIOUS goya (bitter melon), onions, tofu, scrambled eggs and Spam bits

-Tiny scalloped paper napkins

-Not having to tip

-Clear “soda” with chunks of aloe or grapes, aloe and grape flavored (yummy!)  DSC06021

THINGS IN MAINLAND JAPAN AIRPORTS (that I had not experienced before)

-Short handrails under regular ones

-At Tokyo airport, a smoking stall in the bathroom (door and partitions went all the way to the ceiling and floor)


It was a privilege to be able to visit the castles during our Okinawa trip,


following the steps

soaking up the sights they saw

being with masters


One of my favorite places:


step back here in time

we’re surrounded by beauty

new smiles, ancient beams



Thank you to our Okinawa trip hosts David and Amy Wray.  They made sure we had a roof over our heads, air conditioning, and breakfast, as well as transportation and many other hospitable accommodations.  Gratitude also goes to Depue Renshi for co-hosting, helping us prepare for the trip and generally being a good brother to us all.  I appreciate the many welcoming people of Okinawa, including Dr. Tetsuhiro Hokama Sensei, Kiyoshi Yogi Sensei, Toru Kiyan Sensei, Okinawa Kenpo instructors and students, the people of Ryukyu Mura, James Pankiewicz, and the great staff at all of the stores and restaurants, among others.  And thank you to everyone who went on the Okinawa trip with me – whether it was in person side-by-side, or re-living it with me on the blog, hopefully in the comfort of climate-controlled air.

I would like to end this Okinawa Trip series similar to how Tokyo TV ended our show, at Uni Uhugushiku’s tomb, where we showed love, appreciation and respect for our teacher, and those teachers who came before.  My poem:


We thanked our teacher there,

Long-dead instructors too.

To God and fate, showed care,

On behalf of me, and you.