April 8th, 2009By Category: Culture, Travel

rush-hourOne of the things that make a place like Okinawa so attractive to the many tourists who visit here is the carefree lifestyle of the inhabitants. While people up in mainland Japan hustle and bustle about at breakneck speed cramming themselves like sardines into steel boxes that scoot them about the mega-metropolises they call home. Here in Okinawa it’s the polar opposite. The people here have a philosophy that life was meant to be enjoyed. Who knows, maybe that’s one of the reasons they live so long.

Up in mainland Japan, everyone seems to be in such a hurry. And why do they do it? To make a few extra Yen so they can spend it on things they don’t really need. Everyone has a cell phone or is looking to acquire the latest fad in gadgets or fashion wear. Even when they come down here in pursuit of a little rest and relaxation, they’re in such a hurry to see it all in one visit that it’s a wonder if they ever really get a chance to enjoy it. Part of the problem these days is people tend to take themselves and things in general far too seriously.

I think the Okinawan people are on to something that maybe we all could benefit from. In the local Hogen dialect they call it Te-ge, pronounced Tay-gay. It simply means “life in the slow lane” or “don’t sweat the small stuff because when you get right down to it, it’s all small stuff.” Te-ge means taking a step back from life’s little troubles and learning how to laugh, first at yourself and then at your circumstances. People here believe that life’s little tragedies will soon turn into comedies if you’ll only let them.

Te-ge also manifests itself in a thing the locals know as “Okinawa Time!” While folks up in mainland Japan are always in a hurry and never late for anything, in Okinawa you can rest assured that it is a very rare and auspicious occasion should anything be on time. Waiting for that 2 O’clock bus? It’ll be here eventually if you’re willing to wait long enough. Give it a day, a week, a month or even a year, eventually one of these times it will be on time, just don’t hold your breath.

Here nobody really stresses about the clock. So what if you’re late for work one morning. Chances are better than good that your boss will be too. It matters not whether it’s a couple of seconds, minutes, hours or even a couple of days. Are you going to a special event like a “Kekkonshiki,” Japanese wedding party? Don’t worry if you’re late for the one you’re supposed to be at. You can always hang around and party with the next group using the banquet room. Chances are better than fair that there will be plenty of seats available as a good number of those people will be running on Okinawa time too. You might even make a few new friends in the process.

So my advice to all of you folks mired in the rat race is to come to Okinawa for a little Te-ge. Leave your troubles behind and please try to relax a little. Don’t be in such a rush to see everything in one visit that when you return home and go back to work you’re more harried than when you left. A better way is to do it a little at a time. Treat yourself to some life in the slow lane but be sure to spend lots of money. We want you to enjoy your stay so you’ll come back to visit again and again. http://goyarepublic.com/

Author of this article

Keith Graff

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