Many of you ordered the 2011 Okinawa Hai Calendar for yourself and friends and family.  But for those who were not so lucky, we wanted to give you the chance to see the photographs and stories that currently grace our kitchen walls!

We’ll feature these throughout this year, and as we get closer to the end of the summer, we’ll begin asking you to contribute your favorite stories and photographs for NEXT year’s calendar.  So keep your eyes peeled for experiences to capture!

Featured on the January 2011 page:

Karen ShuriFB

Photo by Karen Walzer

Okinawa brings adventure to my doorstep. I can have culinary adventures that make favorites out of foods which leave my State-side friends gasping. Soba, sashimi, and squid now frequent my mouth. I can have water adventures minutes from my home in a place the rest of Japan considers a tourist destination. Growing up over a thousand miles from any ocean I didn’t imagine I would swim with whale sharks, cuttlefish, rays, and sea snakes. I can have cultural adventures that begin with “Ohayou-gozaimasu” or “Genki desu ka?” Adventure is an attitude: It turns “confusion” into “experimentation” and “lost” into “exploration.”        Vignette by Sarah Forte

Featured on the February 2011 page:

Christy SakuraFB
Photo by Christy Heaps

Natsukashi (na-tsu-kah-she) is a Japanese word which translates to mean the sentiment of nostalgia: it’s the feeling you have when something returns you to fond memories which bring you pleasure.

Perhaps you’re cleaning out your closets on a chilly December day, and from that long-neglected beach bag golden grains of coral-y sand shake loose onto your floor.  As you sweep them up, memories of hot summer days spent in the crystalline Okinawan waters flood your mind. Natsukashi.

Maybe you’re escorting family that have braved the day-long journey to reach our tiny Ryukyu island, and as you enter the traditional village that serves mostly as a tourist trap, you hear the deep bass of the Taiko drums stirring within the depths of your soul.  You’re returned to that festival you attended when you first arrived on-island, and the memories of wondering “How did I get so lucky to have landed here?” Natsukashi.

For me, natsukashi occurs when I see the first buds of sakura – Japanese cherry blossoms – that slowly, then ever more rapidly, fill out the no-longer-barren trees which frame the streets in late January and early February.  It’s a symbol of the life cycle asserting itself once again, their pink buds unfolding as winter draws to a close and spring pushes its way, once again, into our lives. When a new year is full of the possibility of fresh starts and old festivals, and the promise of the familiar and the new fighting for space in our hearts.  Natsukashi.          Vignette by Heather Gelormine