Bourdain’s Field Notes

I ate delicious yakisoba. And fluffy egg salad sandwiches from my favorite convenience store. I watched old school karate close-up. Maybe too close. I found out I am not completely horrible at tegumi, a relatively fat-free version of sumo (though I won’t be making a career of it).

Okinawa is the largest island in the Ryukyu archipelago, a kingdom, a culture and a people that was, until 1879, separate from Japan. You feel that difference immediately. It feels, relative to mainland Japan, like Southern California or Florida; balmy, tropical. Where the mainland feels frenetic, tightly wound, neurotic, Okinawa is decidedly laid back.

They have, since World War II, endured the mixed blessing of a disproportionate number of U.S. military bases, a proximity that has influenced the cuisine—the most famous (or notorious) example being taco rice—and have always been, like their Chinese neighbors, more pork-centric when it comes to protein of choice.

The island may be laid back, but it has a strong and steady tradition of activism. Okinawa paid an awful price in the final months of the war, losing up to a quarter of its population. It was sacrifice many feel bitter about still, as Okinawans then—and now—feel as if they are treated as second class citizens by the central government.

Read More

Videos from the Field Want to watch full episodes?
Tune In for local broadcast info.

The newsletter you need Get more Bourdain in your inbox.

Featured Stories

Travel like Bourdain

“What does it mean to be strong? It implies hardness and flexibility. Okinawa is a place with a fighting tradition—a history of ferocious resistance, but it’s nothing like what you might think. Not at all.”

More Stories

By continuing to use this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy