Okinawa Japan “Bise” fishing village with shaded corridors of trees… And reflections about body consciousness…
Breakfast at Sunset Beach Guesthouse, is eaten on the patio in front of the ocean.
It was charming to listen to the waves crashing and to watch their fat rabbit pet play around the yard.
After a rainy morning, which we spent relaxing on the worn cushiony sofas in front of the ocean, I went for a walk on the beach.
The sandy beach was full of shells and beautiful coral.
I strolled around looking for treasures…
I found two small cobalt blue vases, hand painted with a gold flower.
These small vases are usually used in pairs, and are placed on the right and left sides of family alters.
It was amazing to find both of them at two different locations in the beach….
I brought the better one into the guest house, and placed it on their patio.
After all, a backpacking trip does not allow much room to carry many souvenirs back home.
At least I took home a photo and the memory of the treasure I found….. which is almost like taking the object itself home….
We drove up the Western Coast to Motobu Town, to see the Bise neighborhood, which is located on Cape Bise.
This beachfront fishing village, is located right on the ocean, and because it is located at sea level, it is exposed to flooding, tsunamis and strong winds.
To protect themselves from the harsh climate, every street in the whole neighborhood, was planted with large Fukugi trees as a windbreaker.
The Fukugi tree is also known as “Garcinia Tree”, which produces the most delicious mangosteen fruit.
The Garcinia grows mostly in Old World ancient tropics, like in Asia and Africa, and not so much in newer tropical area like the Americas, Hawaii.
Garcinia is indigenous to the Western Ghats region of India, and it also grows well in Australia, Cambodia and tropical Asia.
The streets of Bise Cape are very narrow, and the trees create shaded corridors that gives it a royal feeling.
Some of the house were converted into small guest houses, cafes, and we spotted a few restaurants as well.
Some of the houses were humble old fishermen’s homes, with sliding wooden shoji doors, with rice paper instead of glass panes.
The traditional fishermen’s homes stand on low stilts, to allow the water to flow below them, and they also have a very narrow covered patio, to leave your shoes before you enter the house.
Through the open sliding door of one of the houses, we saw an old fisherman taking a nap on the tatami floor, resting his head on a wooden block.
This is a very traditional way of sleeping that we noticed all around Asia.
Much less importance is given to the comfort of the body, and very often people sleep on a thin carpet, or directly on a tatami mat, or on a very thin mattress.
For pillows, they have a wooden block to raise the head or to align the head with the spine, if you are sleeping on your side.
Sometimes in traditional guest houses, we got a tiny pillow (about the size you usually get on airline flights), filled with grains of rice, barely, or oats, which is believed to be better for your health than fluffy synthetic pillows.
When I think about how much emphasis we give to the comforts of our bodies at any given moment….
We pay attention to every ache, to every sensation in our bodies…. and we are so concerned with trying to make the body feel at ease and comfortable…. That our bodies becomes our focus and our gods…
When I sat in Vippassana silent Meditation for ten days, we were encouraged to sit without movements for fourteen hours per day (with a break for lunch and five minutes break every hour)
We were encouraged to notice the sensations in our bodies, but NOT to move or respond to them.
My whole body ached at first.
My lower back ached from not having back support and from sitting on a thin cushion on the wooden floor….. my legs, my thighs, my spine, my shoulders, my butt all burnt with pain and discomfort…
At first it felt like my leg was going to become permanently paralyzed if I will not move it…. But as I sat there motionless and saw how the pain created fear, then escalated to anger and later to panic… And how finally it just disappeared into the nothingness from which it came…. I realized how much we are attached to trying to ease our minds and bodies, by constantly shifting our bodies and how we end up being restless.
It is BECAUSE we pay so much attention and focus on our bodies, that we believe we ARE bodies with a spirit and a mind.
It is because we pay attention to every sensation in our bodies that we become too body- conscious and upset when our bodies do not feel or look good.
It is also the reason why we are achy and uncomfortable in our bodies.
If you think about it, when you are not at all conscious of your body, surgeons can operate on you…. They can cut your body open and repair organs, sew your body back together and you will not feel a thing.
Yet when you are conscious and aware of your body, you feel every sensation and every itch, tingle or pain.
Not being too bodily conscious, does not mean that you do not attend to your body, clean it well, eat healthy and do your best to keep it beautiful, so you can learn to accept and love it, it just means that you do not pay attention to every ache and every sensation, and imagine it to be a terminal illness… Or an irreversible condition…
It means recognizing that the body is a vibrational energy body that manifests all the ideas that you hold, and that it will respond and change, based on your ideas of it.
But I am sidetracking…..
Back at the Bise neighborhood, our stroll took us to the pier, and we saw some people who were renting a cart and a bull, which was the traditional way to taxi people around the island.
Today, it is just a tourist photo opportunity.
Some of the houses in the Bise village, are fully renovated and modern, but none of them have ocean view, despite being right on the water.
They are all sheltered by the tall trees that form majestic corridors.
The Mosquitos breed like crazy in this area, because it is shaded, wet and cool.
They landed on every part of our exposed skin and feasted on us.
We accepted it with equanimity and a day later the bites were gone… Which was a blessing, because I got bitten on my face and temporarily resembled the elephant man…
I noticed that if I do not put my attention at the edge of my skin, and do not get annoyed and scratch like crazy, the bites takes only a temporary hold on my skin and dissipate fast.
The swarms of Mosquitos, did NOT detract from the beauty and the majestic feeling on the place.
Some of the trees were more than 300 years old, and towered more than thirty meters high, and linked their branches together at the top.
The fishermen smiled at us and waved warmly, as we passed by them.
They were eating with chopsticks slices of fresh fish that they just caught and cleaned, from a communal plate.
That night we dined again at Ryuka, a local restaurant serving traditional Okinawa food.
Because we ate there three nights in a row and LOVED their food, they recommended for us a local dish which they promised had no meat in it.
We agreed to try it, and luckily we also ordered what we wanted, because what arrived was a dish of big fish heads stewed in soy sauce and honey…. We left it behind…
Tomorrow we fly to the island of Miyako-Jima for some beach time.