Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What in the Heck is a Ryukyu?

It has been brought to my attention enough times, now that I need to explain what a Ryukyu is and tonight with just the right combination of beer and coffee in me, I may be able to pull it off.


Okinawa, before it was annexed as part of Japan, used to be an independent Kingdom known as the Ryukyu Islands. Some folks still refer to the group of some 160 islands as the Ryukyu Island Chain.

If you go back to the days of Commodore Perry and his gang, they called the place Loo-Choo, Lu-Tchu, Lewchew and probably a few other names they heard while they were mapping the oceans, sailing their boats, drinking rum and learning how to mispronouce everyone's name they met.

On this map, I borrowed from Wikipedia, you can see the chain of islands stretching from Taiwan to the Japanese island of Kyushu; the big island that has Fukuoka written on it. And, right near the second "YU" of RYUKYU  on the map is the island of OKINAWA. That's the island I live on.

So, there you have it. I live in the Ryukyu Islands. Now I have to decide whether to have another beer or a coffee !

5 comments:

Keith T. Graff said...

Educational and funny too. Love your posts!

Mike said...

Keith,
Thanks. Really, I should have done this a long time ago. I've had dozens of people ask where the word Ryukyu comes from and a few magazine editors who thought I could just take a bus or train ride to get them some pictures in Tokyo or Hokaido !

Sabina said...

Thank you for finally explaining this!!! When the earthquake hit about a year ago, though, I'm pretty sure on the American news they were referring to the islands as "The Ryukyu Island Chain" because I'd never heard of it but immediately knew the earthquake hit where you were because of the word Ryukyu. So maybe the term is still used sometimes today.

Sabina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

Sabina,
Sure enough, I discovered that when I catch a good shot of a rare bird, or sometimes a rare shot of a good bird and send it to Oriental Bird Images, they always list it as as resident of the Ryukyu Islands vice Okinawa.