Today I Went Down Some Spooky Old Stairs: a Photo Essay
Added over 5 years ago
Halloween doesn't really have the meaning, over in my part of the world, that it does for most western cultures. In fact, if it hadn't been for a great friend on StumbleUpon (LINDARAMA) sending me mail when she read this, I wouldn't have known Halloween was just around the corner.
On the outer islands of Okinawa, Japan there are many old caves and sacred wells.
Some of them are pretty cool and they make great subjects for photography.
It's best to make sure you don't disturb anything when you go to them.
There are a few places where the stairs are so old they are crumbling.
Wherever I go, I try to get the best possible photos without disturbing anything.
That plastic ladle just didn't seem right next to those old coins I wanted to shoot.
So, I moved it out of the scene for a few seconds.
Then, put it back exactly where I found it.
People in Okinawa believe there are spirits in these old caves and wells. Many of them come to worship and make offerings at the sites. So, I like to make sure nothing has been changed by my presence. You should do the same, anywhere you go.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT COME OUT OF A CAVE OR SOME OTHER DARK PLACE AND GRAB YOU. DO YOU ?
The culture of Okinawa consists of a strong belief in spirits. So strong, that something like Halloween is really unnecessary. Spirits are felt and communicated with on a daily basis.
While I may have been raised as a Christian in my early years, I have also studied some Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Animism and even a bit of alcoholism. We happen to have a little bit of all those here, along with a strong belief in ancestor worship. There are gods of the sea, mountains, rocks, wind, trees, earth, fire and all of nature (called kami sama) you'd rather see smiling than frowning upon you. That's in addition to any departed members of the family tree.
So, on any given day you may see me raise my eyes towards the sky and and talk to "Kachan" (departed mother-in-law) and thank her spirit for my good fortune.
Or, I might say something like, "What are you trying to do to me?"
Whenever I find myself going to some sacred site in Okinawa, Japan like those spooky old stairs, it's not the ghosts or goblins of Halloween I'm thinking of; it's the spirits of someone else's ancestors I have to worry about. Some people had mean old mother-in-laws, you know.
I wouldn't want to cross paths with their spirits.
There's really no such thing as ghosts.
OR IS THERE ?
WHEREVER YOU ARE, HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN !
To get yourself in the Halloween spirit, or add your goulish story to an already excellent collection, visit my good friend in Australia LINDA HEAPHY, she'll get the hair standing up on the back of your neck !
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Text and photographs copyright Mike Ryukyu
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