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When Mimi's grandparents were young, Idu was the main staple of their diet.  "We don't eat it as often as we eat rice, but I love it," she told me. .Almost everyday, Mimi walks the fifty yards from her home to the beach.  She plays in the sand, swims in the ocean, and sometimes she goes fishing.  After playing, she returns home to eat dinner and do her homework before crawling into bed.  She beamed when she told me that sometimes her days are even longer when she and her older sisters Ai and Mikwako take traditional Okinawan dance lessons.  When she dances, she dresses in a long, red kimono--a traditional satin robe--and paints her face completely white..The smile slid from Mimi's face when I asked her if there was anything that scares her.  As if uttering the words might bring it to life, she leaned toward me and whispered, "I am afraid of war."  Unlike what we might hear from kids in the United States, it was not the Iraqi war on her mind.  Mimi and her classmates first studied The Battle of Okinawa last year.  Now it hardly leaves her mind. .In 1945, when Mimi's grandmother was just fourteen, the Battle of Okinawa claimed the lives of 14,000 American soldiers.  The same battle resulted in the deaths of 140,000 Okinawan soldiers, military employers, and civilians.  The war changed the lives, the land, and the future of Okinawa..Today, television images of other wars around the world remind the school children like Mimi of the stories they grew up hearing of the Battle of Okinawa.  With her fingers pressed against her tan face, Mimi told me she only cries when she thinks about herself or her family dying.  "Otherwise," she told me, "I am very happy.".When we asked Ume Kumamoto, 74, about her ikigai, she didn't have to think long. It was Mimi, her nine-year-old granddaughter who she's always shared a bed with. "Mimi is the reason I wake up in the morning," Ume said.
Copyright
© 2005 Gianluca Colla
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4368x2912 / 12.4MB
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Okinawa, the island of centenarians
When Mimi's grandparents were young, Idu was the main staple of their diet.  "We don't eat it as often as we eat rice, but I love it," she told me. .Almost everyday, Mimi walks the fifty yards from her home to the beach.  She plays in the sand, swims in the ocean, and sometimes she goes fishing.  After playing, she returns home to eat dinner and do her homework before crawling into bed.  She beamed when she told me that sometimes her days are even longer when she and her older sisters Ai and Mikwako take traditional Okinawan dance lessons.  When she dances, she dresses in a long, red kimono--a traditional satin robe--and paints her face completely white..The smile slid from Mimi's face when I asked her if there was anything that scares her.  As if uttering the words might bring it to life, she leaned toward me and whispered, "I am afraid of war."  Unlike what we might hear from kids in the United States, it was not the Iraqi war on her mind.  Mimi and her classmates first studied The Battle of Okinawa last year.  Now it hardly leaves her mind. .In 1945, when Mimi's grandmother was just fourteen, the Battle of Okinawa claimed the lives of 14,000 American soldiers.  The same battle resulted in the deaths of 140,000 Okinawan soldiers, military employers, and civilians.  The war changed the lives, the land, and the future of Okinawa..Today, television images of other wars around the world remind the school children like Mimi of the stories they grew up hearing of the Battle of Okinawa.  With her fingers pressed against her tan face, Mimi told me she only cries when she thinks about herself or her family dying.  "Otherwise," she told me, "I am very happy.".When we asked Ume Kumamoto, 74, about her ikigai, she didn't have to think long. It was Mimi, her nine-year-old granddaughter who she's always shared a bed with. "Mimi is the reason I wake up in the morning," Ume said.