Okinawa '90 Carnival
Published: 1-1-2020
Edit/Update: 1-2-2020

August 26, 1990 - a blistering hot day in Koza, now Okinawa City. I was bachin' it since my wife and three of our kids had departed Okinawa the previous month. Zac and I remained on island until November as my retirement date was rapidly approaching. So, I was out and about, trying to record as many events as I could before having to leave my beloved Okinawa.

The Okinawa '90 Carnival was taking place and I was determined to capture as much of the gala as I could. Zac wasn't feeling well so I was out on my own.

Early in the day the performers and onlookers were beginning to assemble - myself included! We begin here at the west end of Route 20, or Gate 2 Street. The local constabulary was on the job as were the young ladies of the Okinawa City Eisa Dancers group. A U.S. Marine Corps band (I'm thinking they were down from Camp Hansen but now 30 years later could certainly be mistaken) was arriving, organizing and preparing to perform.

Next up were some more lively performances from the Okinawa City Eisa dancers. It seems that Sony got their panties in a wad and muted part of this following video. The dancers were performing to the sounds of May Be a Price to Pay, by the Alan Parsons Project. I sent in a dispute explaining that the tune was "ambient" in a public event and that I think I should have the liberty of fair use. Well, I haven't heard back from anyone so you'll have a little over a minute and a half of no sound. But their performance was stunning! And, Lord, it was a hot day! They must have been sweltering. I found a good spot to park myself to record the street dance.

The dancing continued and I was content to keep rolling on the action. You can read more about Eisa HERE.

Before hitchin' up the BIG ropes to one another the little people got their turn at Tug-o-War. Grabbing onto the ends of a much smaller rope the East and the West kids' teams battled it out to a draw. After that they got to work on joining the ropes for the main event. The West and the EAst adult team members met in the middle.

Throughout the day's events we were "treated" to the woman in the announcers' booth, whom I have dubbed the Rope Nazi, dishing out warnings, instructions, and just overall irritating commentary. My least favorite but most cherished moment (at 1:01 in this clip) was when she cautioned everyone to "please move back from the rope at least 2 meters..." then proceeded to woman-splain, "... that's 6 feet for those of you who speak English." I guess that "at least two meters" was some obscure foreign tongue, eh? So obnoxious! She even butted in while her Japanese-speaking counterpart was talking to the crowd over the loud-speaker!

The children on both ends of the rope gave their valiant best efforts and it did indeed end in a mutually well-deserved tie. I still, to this day, have no idea what the Rope Nazi was thinking with the repetitive "Ready, set, PULL!" admonition while the kids, ignoring her I'm sure, were busy pulling their little hearts out.

Following the kids, the big rope ends were dragged together in order to be coupled. "Haa-ee-ah!" indeed! *Tsk!* Once joined, the leaders from the base(s) and from the local community were propelled forward on palanquin-of-sorts rigs from which they jumped onto the rope to greet and shake hands. Kinda nice.

Then came the Main Event! First were they organized teams from East and West followed by a second contest in which anyone could participate.

The "1, 2, 3, PULL!" mantra from the announcer's booth seemed incredibly incongruent with what was actually happening in the field of contestants but it didn't dissuade her a bit. "We want to Win! We want to Win!" Okay, enough about the Rope Nazi. I'll go back to enjoying the day.

People are encouraged to cut off as much as they want from the rope after the end of festivities. Some say that cutting off a long piece brings you a greater degree of good luck. Maybe so. I got a fairly small chunk and still have it secured away for continuing good fortune. So far, it has worked okay for me for 30 years!

A Facebook friend, LaDonna Aiken, told me that she had been there too, taping for FEN, the local military television station. Here is her coverage from ground level while I was perched up on that roof for most of the show. She did a good job! Here she is:

Thank you, LaDonna!

Next up, the sun was setting, the crowd was largely dispersed and the clean-up crews were out in force. Too early in the day though to leave so I wandered around between Gate 2 Street and Chuo Park Avenue (old BC Street). I moseyed through Sun City and happened upon a guy whom I had seen somewhere, at some other event, somewhere on the island. Enjoy his show!

It was getting late and I realized that I hadn't had anything to eat all day. Akisamiyo! So I took care of that by stopping in at one our favorite late-night spots in Koza - the Mont Blanc. Always great food and friendly folks who ran the place. It's no longer a restaurant though and I'm not even sure if the hotel is still in business. So much of old Koza has sadly shriveled up and gone under. Like most other places, the big malls and convenience stores have put a lot of folks into early retirement. If so lucky...

Debb and three of the kids had gone back to the States in July and I had only 4 months until retirement! Zac and I stayed on island while Debb went back to set up housekeeping in preparation for our next life transition. It would be another 23 years before she and I finally made it back to Okinawa!

Updated: 1-1-2020
S.A. Mick McClary - Great Falls, MT 59406