It is a rainy Saturday here in Okinawa, the kind that makes you want to stay in bed and listen to the music of it as it strikes the roof, the windows and the orchids outside. So, I did that for a while today, relaxed and enjoyed the soft symphony.
But then I became restless, as I often do, and decided to take a drive to a small archaeological site that I have been close to but never visited…Nakabaru. This is a little congregation of huts in the midst of farmland on Ikei Island.
Ikei Island is the last in a chain of the Yokatsu Islands off the Katsuren Penninsula, a place I have visited many times. I love to go to Katsuren Penninsula, just to feel the castle looming over me as I drive and make my way to Yabuchi Cave, the islands of Hamahiga, Henza, Miyagi and finally Ikei.
Driving past the Nuchi Masu salt factory on Miyagi Island and the gorgeous overlooks there are farmlands and sugar cane fields. On Ikei Island, I was told by a former supervisor, there are some goats that were brought there by the US Navy at the end of World War II that would be let loose in the fields to discover any unexploded landmines. Goats now seen on the island are the descendants of the ones who survived.
Among the fields and goats, there is also the little village from the late Jomon Period called Nakabaru. The information at the site says there there are 23 wall entry dwelling remains including restored ones. The largest is 16′ x 20′ and the smallest 6′ x 10′.
“The buildings have been restored with reference to folklore to a height sufficient for a person to enter. Red clay has been mixed to fill the spaces in the surrounding stonewall. Yarabu, a material used in old times has been used as pillars and roofs. Rope made as of Adan roots has been used to bind the pillars, bamboo and thatch. For the roof material, chigaya a native plant of Ikei Island has been used.”
These people left their pottery, used for cooking, transporting and storing. Stone axes, grinding stones, grating for the foods and spiral shells. If you’ve ever taken an anthropology or archaeology course, this is fascinating stuff. The idea of taking the material culture left behind and creating a story about the lives of the people and how they used their tools, is fascinating to me. To be able to wander through these places, villages that are dated to be 2,500 to 2,000 years old is amazing. As an American, I am constantly marveling at the ancient culture that I am graced to live in now.
I looked inside many of the buildings which had a lot of water, and thought I saw something shining back. I could not remember if habu like water or if their eyes reflect, but I decided to just stay back and investigate the insides on another day…a drier day.
I was thankful for my Gore-tex LL Bean jacket and pants as Okinawa rain always seems to come at you sideways. I bought myself a nice green tea and drove back to my wonderful Ginowan.
But just in case there are some of you who don’t look at my FaceBook page, I include a few of the final Spring Training game pictures I took. These were between the Chunichi Dragons and the Korean team the Hanwha Eagles. Daisuke Matsuzaka, formerly of the Boston Red Sox and the Mets (yay!) is now pitching for the Dragons. On my lunch break, I was fortunate enough to go down and watch him pitch!
I hope everybody has a great week and stay safe in the snow…those of you in the Northeast!