If there is one thing Okinawans like more than eating and drinking, it’s the fine art of conversation. Most visitors to Okinawa never have the chance to experience the Ryukyuan tradition of story telling. The majority of people are whisked-off here and there as predetermined by the numerous packaged tours. These people are really missing out, because the art of conversation is not lost on Okinawans. Whether the tale is about great adventures, designed to instill a sense of awe towards the story teller; or sagas of great woes and misfortunes, designed to arouse cries of sympathy from the listener; or humorous anecdotes about a the mishaps of a fellow resident, designed to bring out choruses of laughter (usually followed with a shake of the head and some snide remark on the ignorance of the unfortunate resident, which, to me, dampens the pleasure of the anecdote) locals are masters at evoking emotions through their story telling. So if you get a chance, go off the beaten path and enter one the Mom and Pop type of drinking establishments – not the local hostess bars (the average man’s equivalent of a Geisha house). Order a drink and try breaking the ice by saying”Chaaganjuu, how are you?” (which will probably bring about a great amount of finger pointing and laughter). With some luck you’ll be able to spend time talking with and listening to these ever-vocal story tellers.
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