June 21, 2016

Looking Yokohama, but feeling Okinawa

Once upon a time, October 2003 to be specific, my then-girlfriend Naomi and I took a trip to Okinawa. We rented a 150cc scooter in Naha and drove around the entire island. Around the mid-point in our travels, near Uruma city, we left the main island of Okinawa and drove across the Mid-Sea Road which connects to a series of small isles called Henza and Miyagi. The highway is surrounded on both sides by pristine turquoise water and offers captivating views—like a travel commercial. Once you reach these small islands, there are glass-bottom boat rides, snorkeling and diving available, but we just wanted to go to the end of the road to see what was there. I recall that upon arrival, with only open fields and narrow dirt roads, there was nary a soul to be seen, clear blue skies, and just silence. The local crops were rows and rows of tall sugarcane. Dismounting the scooter and strolling around was a memorable experience for me; I still strongly feel to this day the whole ambience was one of utter tranquility and peace. I do want to go back there someday to see if that atmosphere remains.
So, this brings me to my own little version of that serenity near our home in middle of the uber-urban metropolis that is Yokohama. When spring comes I tend to begin jogging again to burn off some of winter’s excess that perpetually remains around my waist. When we moved to our current residence, I came across a stretch of bumpy macadam road devoid of buildings, abutted by fields tilled by weekend hobby farmers, and lined with green shrubbery. I immediately christened it the Okinawa Road because I felt some of that tranquility I so vividly remember from the Okinawa episode I recounted above.
These days finding a moment of calm is an achievement for most people, myself included. Whenever I pass through the Okinawa Road, day or night, most times I have the space to myself and can get some relief from the constant deluge of big city life—the crowds, the concrete, the incessant din. In the peak of summer, heat keeps people indoors, and it’s though the humidity dampens the noise such that the only sound except the quiet hush of cars on the roads far away is the cicadas chirping. Nothing but good comes from a peaceful trot along the road at night with only the verdant hedges, the stars and the city’s glow reflecting on the clouds above keeping you company.
Sometimes I take one of the Rising Daughters with me on a short spin on our 50cc scooter around the neighborhood. They like the speed and motion that is different from a car. Invariably we also go up and down the Okinawa Road. They usually request it; I assume the affection I hold for this innocuous stretch of road is contagious.
Maybe it’s due to being a green oasis at the top of a hill in the middle of the city, maybe it’s the comparative silence, but in the end it’s 500 meters and just a few minutes of respite from urban life. That’s why I adore the Okinawa Road. 

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