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31 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 4 "Raise your hands and dance Kacharsi"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Problem? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?


A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.


Please read from Chapter 1



Thinking about having a beer before playing something, Naomi headed to the counter. Then there was a very young Black man. He was more of a boy than a young man. He's younger than the American soldiers here. And he was not a pure Black boy. It's a mixture of Black people who seem to have Asian blood mixed in.


"Come on, Nee-san (Young lady)," he greeted her with a normal Japanese.


She wondered if he was an American who spoke good Japanese. And when she looked at him closely, she thought it was a familiar face somewhere. It was a face she had seen somewhere, just recently.


"Hey, Kenny, how are you doing?" Jimmy talked to the Black boy.


She got it. Diet member Mr. Miyagi, Kenny. He was a member of the National Assembly who was reported on the TV news as a likely candidate to succeed the will of the previous governor in the upcoming gubernatorial election. But the Kenny in front of him was much younger than Kenny Miyagi she knew. The face of a dignified politician had changed into a very adorable boy. He looked like a junior high school student or a high school student. Maybe he was Kenny's son. But she thought it was weird a father and son shared the same name.


"Hey, Nee-san (Sister), you have a Sanshin instrument, are you going to play something?" said Kenny.


"Yes, well," Naomi said with an expression that couldn't hide her surprise.


"I play the Sanshin too, because this instrument is our soul" said Kenny.


"That's right," Naomi said. Somehow, Kenny looked cute. He was a really cute boy. Who the hell is he?


Then an American guy approached and spoke up to Kenny. He was one of the U.S. soldiers in this bar besides Jimmy. He was about the same height as Jimmy with a blonde hair.


"Hey, Niger, this is where you shouldn't be entering, get out."


What a rant. is a pejorative term for Black people in America.


"No, I work Here, I'm Okinawan” Kenny replied in English. Kenny had a rag in his hand and was wiping down the counter table.


"Tony, don't get stuck," Jimmy said. The blonde young man seemed to be named Tony.


"You Yankee don't know," Tony said.


"Yankee? Jimmy, where are you from and where is Tony from?" asked Naomi. A Yankee means an American in the North.


"I'm from Chicago, and Tony is from Mississippi," Jimmy replied.


Indeed, Naomi understood that because he came from the conservative southern state of Mississippi, there was a strong sense of prejudice against Black people. But isn't it too bad for these days?


"Who are you?" Tony asked Naomi, who was wearing a shoulder strap attached to the instrument.


"I'm from Tokyo," she replied in English.


"Hey, Black Okinawan and the Jap woman," Tony said.


What a vile man. She felt like getting a little drunk and rowdy.


"We're Americans, our country is the strongest country in the world. We own Okinawa. It's the best country in the world," Tony said in English with a Southern accent.


America owns Okinawa? Okinawa is the territory of Japan. It's true that there were a lot of U.S. military bases.


Kenny said to Tony. "Not true, Okinawa is occupied by the US, but it is still part of the Japan. And Okinawa belongs to the Okinawans. It's not American," Kenny said in English. Does "occupied" mean that there were many U.S. military bases on the island? Naomi thought.

Then she said to Tony.

"America is such a great country? Is there anything to be proud of?"


"The whole world longs for America, they imitate American culture. This is also the case here. You're using the culture that the U.S. created," Tony said proudly, and Naomi frowned.


"Oh, after all, American culture is just a copy of European culture, it's just a carbon copy of the culture brought in by European immigrants."


Naomi said what she thought from her experience in Europe.


"What? Aren’t you listening to American jazz and rock?"


Tony said blushing. Then Kenny said,


"Jazz and rock were created by Black people from Africa mixing with European music, so they were not original to the United States," he said glaring at Tony.


"Hey, a cheeky like you is just a jerk in my hometown of Mississippi."


Tony said, glaring back. Then Jimmy said,


"No. You can’t be racist if you are American. You are wrong. You know the Civil Rights Act enacted a few years ago," taunting Tony.


"What's wrong with a law like that, what's wrong with discriminating them," Tony said.


"It goes against the ideals of American freedom and democracy. The idea of democracy is that all human beings should be equal and free. Both President Kennedy and Dr. King fought for it and enacted laws banning discrimination."


Jimmy said emphatically.


"Both Kennedy and King got killed because they did things like that, because they did weird things," Tony said.


"No. US has fought for it. Our parents fought against the Nazis who wanted to conquer Europe. With the Japanese army that invaded China and attacked the US, and we won. We're fighting to save people who are tormented by invaders who do brutal things on others based on their arrogance against others," Jimmy replied, and Tony fell silent for a while. Then,


"Unlike you, I volunteered to go to Vietnam," he said.


"Oh, yes, you did. I was drafted. I think it's an important duty," Jimmy said.


"I’m a proud United States Marine, I’m going to be like my big brother," Tony said.


"Joe, oh, everyone's hero. Right now, he’s fighting on the front lines in Vietnam. He's the best soldier with extraordinary strength and decorated a lot of medals. Everyone’s a role model," Jimmy said.


"Oh, a true warrior for freedom and democracy. I will be like my brother Joe. It's just like GI Joe," Tony said in a shouting voice. G.I. Joe was an American antique toy doll that was modeled after a military man.


"Yes," Jimmy and a few other U.S. soldiers around him responded.


Neither Kenny nor Naomi could keep up with the American military-like conversation, but for the time being, the tension in the room seemed to ease. Is this how Americans do?


Kenny talked to the master at the counter. Then Kenny said to Naomi.


"Hey, Sister, try playing something by Sanshin and singing, you seem to be good at singing," Kenny said.


"Sure, I do" she replied.


She went on stage as if she was being led by Kenny. She decided to sing the freshly learned song "Tinsagu no Hana. (Phoenix Flower)" She wondered if the American soldiers would understand. She sang while playing the intrument.

"The phoenix flower is something that dyes the fingernails.


The teachings of our parents are ingrained in our hearts."


"The clusters of stars in the heavens can be counted if you count.


There are countless teachings from our parents ."


"Ships crossing the ocean at night are marked by the North Star.


For us, parents are a landmark."


Of course, the American soldiers did not know the meaning of the lyrics, but her beautiful voice and the smooth melody played by the Sanshin captivated them at once. She thought it was too quiet for the energetic young people, but it seemed to have won their hearts firmly. Jimmy approached the stage.


"Bravo, beautiful," he shouted with applause. Other soldiers also applauded.


Good, Naomi thought. Kenny then asked, "Hey, hey, can you sing Kacharsi?"


"Oh, to tell you the truth, I just learned it, I can’t play like Tinsagu no Hana, though I've learned a song," she said, smiling and expressing her regret at not being able to respond to requests.


"So I'll play, will you sing and dance?" said Kenny.


"I just have to sing and dance," Naomi said.


"Yes." Kenny said.


"Ok," Naomi said, handing the instrument and claws to Kenny. Kenny tied the instrument with his shoulder straps, clawed at his fingers, and immediately began to play Sanshin.


Kacharsi's up-tempo rhythm reverberates. He’s used to playing it and it's good.


Naomi performed the kacharsi dance she had learned from her grandmother and approached the microphone and began to sing. Dancing is very easy. Raise your hands, raise your fingers, and rotate your hands in all directions. Naomi thought she was going to lure them in, and she said.


"Raise Your Hands, and Dance with Me."


The U.S. soldiers were initially stunned, but Jimmy imitated Naomi’s dancing right in front of the stage, raising his hands and dancing Kacharshi together with Naomi. Then the American soldiers in the bar got tangled up and raised their hands and started dancing. It went into party mode all at once.


カチャーシー, Kacharsi means "to stir" in Okinawan and just as it means, the inn owner Obaa told her that it is a dance unique to Okinawa, dancing while stirring hands. The song was called "唐船ドーイ, Tang Ship Doi", which is representative among Kacharsi.

Tang Ship Doi Santeman


Isan-ran (ba) eh Nana Shiya


Wakasa Town Village Nu Senanami Nu Tanme


The meaning is "It's a ship from the Tang Dynasty! and the one who doesn't run at a glance is the grandfather of Senaba in Wakasa Township," but none of them make sense. Since the purpose is to dance, you don't have to worry about the meaning of the lyrics. It is also common to the lyrics of Spanish flamenco.


As Naomi sang the lyrics, Kenny, who played Sanshin, interjects, "Iyasa, Iyasa, Sa, Sa," in the background of the voice.


All of them continued to dance over and over again. All the American soldiers in the bar were engrossed in the dance. It was noisy, but it was in a very high-spirited and good mood.


Naomi looked at Tony at the counter. When Naomi started dancing, he was drinking and didn't seem to mind, but now he was dancing together. He was not a bad guy, she thought.


Two hours later, all the U.S. soldiers had returned to the base, the bar turned silent, the master had entered the office room, and Kenny and Naomi sitting tired on stage alone.


"I had a wonderful experience tonight, the American soldiers can enjoy Okinawan music."


Naomi said, still feeling tired.


"Thanks, actually, I didn't even know how to deal with that situation. I wanted to change my mind."


Kenny said about Tony.


"It's terrible, really, racism. It's still very strong in America."


Naomi reminded herself of President Trump and the white conservatives in America who supported him.


"It's terrible here, too, because I've been bombarded with people every day since I was a kid like slurs such as mixed specie or Black boy," Kenny said.


"That's right," Naomi said. She was well aware that Japan is not in a position to criticize the United States.


"But I love Okinawa, where I was born and raised, and Okinawan music. Right now, Okinawa is still under the control of the United States, but if it were to return to Japan someday, I would like to eliminate the U.S. military bases and become a person that I can be even more proud of as Okinawans. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, it is about yourself as Okinawan."


Naomi stammered as Kenny said. After all, She didn't think she was in this bar in 2018. She asked casually.


"A lot of U.S. soldiers from Okinawa are going to Vietnam."


"Oh, and they're killing innocent people, it's like we're being made to cooperate with that," Kenny said.


Naomi only had the simple knowledge about the Vietnam War which she learned in school history course and some history shows on TV. Vietnam was divided into north and south, and the United States started a war in cooperation with the south, but was defeated. She’s heard that not only soldiers but also many civilians were killed.


"Jimmy and Tony are going to Vietnam to do that," Naomi said.


"Oh, they say freedom and democracy are important, but in other countries they push through their own selfishness. Ever since Okinawa was lost in the war and occupied, they have been stealing land to build bases and using us as stepping stones. We have no rights here. It's a colony just to be trampled on. Racism seems to have been banned in the United States, but in Okinawa, bars where American soldiers use are divided between whites and Blacks. It's hypocrisy to do different things inside and outside their own country."


Tony's narrative didn't seem to be very acting, he seemed to tell the real story. After all, am I in Okinawa in the midst of the Vietnam War era? Before Okinawa reversion to Japan.


Naomi asked Kenny as she suddenly noticed a board on the wall of the bar.


"What's on the board with all those dollar bills pinned down?"


"Oh, it was left as a memorial by American soldiers heading to the battlefield. It seems that it is also a wish to write the name on the bill and pin it and get it back if they come back alive."


Kenny said.


"In other words, if they are killed in the battle, bills will be left alone," Naomi said.


"Well, I guess we're going to see more and more dollar bills on that board," Kenny said.


"Somehow, I pity them," Naomi said.


"People in the mainland like you may think so, but it doesn't matter to us, they're the ones who are stomping on us. It's fine if you can use it to make money," Kenny said simply. Even in his uncanny youth, he showed an indescribable toughness. If he was Miyagi Kenny, who could also be that governor, it was a premonition of that.


"Yes, hey, there's a song that people in Okinawa which you should know. There's a song about the Japan Reversion Movement in Okinawa. We don't know how long this will last, but it's a song with the thought that we’re going to get out of it eventually," Kenny said.


Naomi was taught the song and lyrics of the song by Kenny. The title is "Bring back Okinawa."


After that, Naomi decided to leave. it's too late. She wondered what was going on outside of this bar? Last night was back in 2018, but will the same phenomenon occur? Thinking of that, Naomi pulled her phone out of her pocket and viewed her smartphone screen. What she noticed on the screen was that the radio waves were out of range. In Henoko, she could use a smartphone anywhere. It was strange.


Then she activated the camera.


"Hey, what's that, mirror?" asked Kenny.


"Yes, yes, if I have to fix makeup, I’m tired and look terrible," she said, pointing the lens at Kenny and took some pictures of him and interior of the bar, too. The photos were saved as data on her smartphone device.


"Thank you, Kenny, tonight, it was fun. I'm leaving. Oh, and give my regards to Master. I'm the singer of the show, but tell him I'll come here to sing in my spare time."


Naomi said, putting the shoulder straps of the Sanshin over her shoulders and she walked to the entrance door of the bar.


"Thank you, hey, see you soon. Goodnight," Kenny said.



Naomi said, opening the bar door and stepping outside. It was the same scene of Henoko Village as when she entered. It was dark and quiet in the middle of the night in the village, and there was only the light of the street lamps. Behind her was a wall of the bar with a fading picture of the Stars and Stripes.


Naomi just came up with something and went back to the entrance door, turning the doorknob, but the door was locked as expected. She just left, so it was very strange the door was locked right away.


Oh, she found had forgotten something. She hanged the instrument, but still Kenny held the claws to play the strings.


Naomi knocked on the door and shouted, "Kenny, Kenny." There was no reaction at all. After all, the inside of the bar is another world. What a strange phenomenon.


Go on to Chapter 5

19:22 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

20 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 3 "Tinsagunu Hana (Phoenix Flower)"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Problem? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?


A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.


Please read from Chapter 1. 


The next morning, Naomi checked her smartphone. She was curious if she hadn't received anything from Genjiro. There were no recorded message, no incoming calls, and no emails. He hadn't left her any messages since last night. Did he dump her completely?


Come to think of it, she didn't know much about Genjiro. He aspires to be a human rights lawyer and said that he wants to take the initiative in dealing with local issues in Okinawa, so she knew that he had a strong sense of justice. Was he something too serious about this issue, or did she look unserious and make him angry?


Naomi was having breakfast at the inn thinking about how to deal with him. It's almost 9 a.m. and the other guests have finished their meals and headed to a sit-in in front of the gate. Alone, while eating the prepared breakfast, she watched the morning news on the TV in the cafeteria.


This was the news of the upcoming gubernatorial election. This was the biggest problem in Okinawa. It has to do with the construction of the new Henoko Air Base. Although the base was a relocation destination for Futenma Air Base, it had the function of a military port that was not found at Futenma Air Base, and it was called a "new base" locally because it was rather a reinforcement of the functions of the U.S. military base. That is what she learned from Genjiro.


The former governor died suddenly of illness before completing his term until October, but the search for a candidate for governor to inherit the former governor's will, "Preventing the construction of the new Henoko Air Base, closing the U.S. Marine Corps Base Futenma and relocating it outside the prefecture," has become the hottest topic in Okinawa prefectural government. Both the prefectural government’s assembly ruling parties and the opposition parties, whose position was promoting the construction of the new base receiving support from the Japanese central government, are proceeding with the selection process.


The ruling parties must choose candidates to oppose the construction plan. The news report picked up one person who was considered a leading figure. This was Kenny Miyagi, one of the members of the National Assembly (Diet, Parliament) in Okinawa Prefecture constituencies. He was a man over sixty years old, with a dark skin, and dignified look.


Naomi knew him very well. That's because he was famous as the first member of the Japan Congress to inherit the blood of a Black American. His mother, who was Okinawan native, and his father was a U.S. military officer stationed in Okinawa before Okinawa returned to Japan in 1972. The two separated before they could get married. His father returned home shortly after Kenny's birth. He never saw his father and grew up with his mother. He moved to the mainland from his high schoolhood and was once active as a musician.


After that, he returned to Okinawa because he wanted to contribute to his homeland, Okinawa and became a member of the prefectural assembly, and then became a member of the Diet from Okinawa. Because of his mixed race and dark skin, Naomi have heard stories of hardships that he has continued to be discriminated against both in Okinawa and on the mainland. She once heard Yuriko Koike, a former member of the Diet and current governor of Tokyo, hurl insults at a Diet committee meeting when she was a Diet member, such as "Do you speak Japanese?"


Kenney said in an interview with a TV reporter.


"I have a dream, a dream to contribute to Okinawa and to turn it into a better island. Because of that, I even became a member of the Diet. And now may be the time to meet your expectations even more. I'd like to consider it carefully."


The news reported his comment as a positive response. Naomi had a fondness for Kenny. She thought the it was great a leader who had the idea of overcoming such discrimination while experiencing it and contributed to society by making use of such experience. In the United States, Mr. Obama, who was of mixed Black and White descent, once became President. However, there was also a backlash that followed with the inauguration of a white supremacist named Donald Trump as president.


Still, she thought there shouldn’t be any racism anywhere in the world.


She decided to spend time alone in her room, playing guitar and singing. Genjiro didn't pick her up and she was bored all day. She didn’t even bother to go to the gate and participate in the sit-in. She sympathized with the anti-base movement, but She didn't feel like going to the front of the gate unless she was with Genjiro.


Then an old woman who ran the inn came to her room. She was called "Obaa (Grandma)" and liked by everyone.


"Naomi-san, you said you were good at music. Why not you play and sing Okinawan music."


"Obaa, yes, with pleasure," she replied.


The old lady was a very good-natured old woman. She delights the guests of the inn and cook delicious meals in the morning and evening. She was an old woman born in Henoko and raised in Henoko, and had been campaigning against the construction of a new base in Henoko since 20 years ago.


The old woman took out an Okinawan shamisen called Sanshin. Unlike the guitar that Naomi usually played, there were only three strings. It was an instrument that has been peeled off the skin of a snake and stretched on the surface. Naomi had played the Edo-style shamisen, but this was her first time playing the Sansin.


The shamisen uses Bachi tool to play three strings, while Sanshin is played with claws made of buffalo horns on the fingers. So it seems to be similar, but it is a completely different instrument. Of course, it was also completely different from a guitar.


She was taught how to make sounds. From her youth to middle age, Obaa was active as a performer and singer of Sanshin of Okinawan folk songs.


She received substantial coaching from Obaa with such experience. She had a great time. She completely forgot that she had been swept away by Genjiro and immersed herself in the world of Okinawan folk songs, Sanshin performances, and songs.


She learned one song and lyrics that could make use of Naomi's singing voice. It was " てぃんぐさぬ花, Tingusanu flower." It is the most famous song of Okinawan folk songs. It was also a folk song recommended by Obaa. Tingusanu means "phoenix flower" in Okinawan. The tone was smooth and one could sing slowly, and feel that the sound was gentle and melted in heart.


Translation of the Lyrics

"The phoenix flower is something that dyes fingernails.

The teachings of our parents are ingrained in our hearts."


"The clusters of stars in the sky can be counted if you count.

There are countless teachings from parents ."


"Ships crossing the ocean at night use the North Star as a mark for direction.

For me, parents are the mark."


It was an Okinawan dialect, but she was able to sing it well without completely understanding the meaning. It was not like a typical love song, but a song about parent-child affection like a message to a child who teaches and learns from his parents. She felt like her repertoire has increased again. Just as she was in a very good mood, a loud noise suddenly reverberated through the inn, as if to interrupt her performance.


It was the sound of a bomb exploding. The sound was so loud that it reverberates not only in the inn but also in the entire Henoko village, vibrating the building.


"Oh, it's started again, it's a U.S. Army exercise."


Naomi shuddered. Is such an exercise to be held near where private houses gather? Can't believe it. Was that what it meant to live side by side with the U.S. military?


She also heard what sounded like a helicopter. She opened the window and looked out, and she saw an aircraft flying with wings that looked like a helicopter but looked like an airplane propeller.


"It's an Osprey," said the old woman.


Flying over Naomi's head. The altitude was very low. How dangerous. It was often possible to fly in such a dangerous way. She heard that the Osprey crashed a little further away from Henoko two years ago.


Although it was deployed at Futenma Air Base, if it flew not only to takeoff and landing, the risk of an accident did not change even in Henoko. The Osprey was a flying aircraft that multiplies the functions of a helicopter and an airplane, but it is said that there are structural defects and crashes are very frequent. It is said that dozens of such aircraft were deployed in Okinawa.


What exactly is Okinawa? Even if you think of it as a resort island rich in nature in a tropical country, the living environment may be destroyed by the presence of a U.S. military base.


It took about an hour until the Ospreys and exercises stopped and became silent. To Naomi, who was disgusted when she was interrupted from practicing Okinawan folk songs, the Obaa said,


"Please, why don't you sing Kacharshi this time by playing it in Sanshin? It's fun because it's a dance song."


She said to her to change the feeling.


Naomi learned Kacharshi. It was also an Okinawan folk song, but this was rather a fun song that could be used for parties and the like. The lyrics of the song were in Okinawan and tempo was so fast that she didn't understand them at all, but she somehow learned to play and sing them, learned how to dance, and then she danced with Obaa’s instruction.


The day was spent by learning Okinawan folk songs.


After dinner, Naomi wandered around the streets of Henoko with the Sanshin on her shoulder straps. She drank a little awamori and got drunk. The Okinawan specialty sake that was served at dinner, Awamori, had a high alcohol content and even a single cup was enough to make her drunk.


She walked through the village of Henoko while also getting drunk and cold. Isn't there a place like a square where she could rest quietly? She remembered that there was a hill where she could see the sea. She heard from the guests that it was dark outside so she could not see the sea, but she could see the shining starry sky. She headed in that direction.


But on the way, she passed the Stars and Stripes Wall building. She stopped suddenly. It reminded her of last night. It was a strange experience. She wondered if it was still open. When she was practicing folk songs at lunch, she told Obaa about this bar, and Obaa said,

"Come on, that’s strange. There used to be a lot, but now a lot of them are closed. The number of U.S. soldiers is far smaller than in the past, and there are enough only in the schwab, so there are fewer customers because they don't go outside."


Last night, however, the interior was crowded with dozens of U.S. soldiers. And they were talking about going to Vietnam. Was it because there was a special event? Or did she get drunk and have a vision?


With that thought in mind, Naomi walked past the bar to the hill where she could see the sea, but she heard people gathering and making noise from the building on the Stars and Stripes Wall. Naomi headed for the entrance door and put her hand on the knob to open it.


Just like last night, the bar was crowded with young American soldiers. Is this place still open tonight? Naomi walked inside with an instrment.


A young man's voice said, "Naomi, nice to see you again." It was Jimmy. Naomi smiled widely.


"What's the matter, you didn’t come back from all of a sudden last time."


"You mean, last night?"


"I think it was last week, and I came tonight because I was finally off training."


Eh, it's been a week? It never made sense to her.


"What do you have? Is it an instrument?" asked Jimmy, looking at him curiously.


"Yes, it's a traditional Okinawan instrument called Sanshin," Naomi said.


"Wow, will you play this and sing something tonight?" Jimmy said happily.


"Of course," Naomi replied happily.


To be continued to Chapter 4. 

07:30 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

19 July 2022

The Rise of "White America" Roe vs. Wade Overturned!

Last month US Supreme Court made a historic decision, overturning Roe vs. Wade ruling 1973. The court's ruling leaves abortion rights to be determined at the state level. Several GOP-led states have already moved to enact statewide bans. 

Next target may be gay marriage, sodomy law and voting rights for people of colour. 

American society is moving counter-clockwise recently. 

Kind of "Back to White America" movement in which Conservative White American traditions should be considered norm. 

Surely many liberal Americans oppose such movement especially among people of colour. 

So they try to move things back to their norms. But conservative White Americans have already determined their own norms and would never listen to other opinions. 

Even almost half a century passed since Roe vs. Wade ruling, this conservative Christian fundamentalist value still persists in American society. After all this is the core value of American society. 

Rather than creating further division within the society, why not establish a new nation within the continent like Native American tribe territory. Establish "White America"! 

Maybe somewhere in between deep South States such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. That would be a new state where only conservative White Christian Americans can be residents and live happily everafter without bumping progressive ideas such as feminism, religious freedom, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and etc. 

It doesn't matter what is right or wrong. What matters is whether you feel comfortable or not. Life is short. You can't deal with so many fusses. 

"White America" may be the realistic and practical solution for America sadly. 

13 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 2 "Soldier Boy"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Issue? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?


A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.


Please read Chapter 1 first. 


When Naomi got to the counter, a middle-aged man who seemed to be an Okinawan who seemed to be a master was making a cocktail. Naomi talked to him.


"Excuse me, do you have anything?" Beer or whiskey?"


The middle-aged man looked at Naomi with surprised eyes.


"What did you come here for?"


He replied. When she was surprised with his reaction, a young American man from the side said,


"Oh, Great looking girl," he said to Naomi.


Naomi was good at English conversation. Her English grades in high school were excellent. It has to do with singing, too. She studied hard to learn English songs. The experience of spending time in Europe to learn singing was also a factor in improving her English skills.


Naomi smiled back involuntarily. A tall, blonde young man was standing beside her. Instantly, the man hugged her. He put his hands on her ass.


She said, "Stop, don't touch me." What a guy! She tried to pull her body away, but the man's arms were far stronger. Then, another hand entered from her side, pulling Naomi and the man apart.


"Don’t be rude to this lady" said another tall, brown-haired man.


The blonde man frowned and left. Naomi looked up at the brown-haired man who had saved her. He was young and very handsome. His face was like a Hollywood actor. She fell in love with him unexpectedly.


"Thank you," she said.

The young man said, 

"Are you alright?" Everyone gets drunk and engaged. It's dangerous for a beautiful woman like you to hang around a place like this" said the man. "This is the bar for American soldiers."

"Really?" Naomi was surprised.


"It's unusual for a woman like you to come. Do you work here? Or a tout?"


Was she seen as a prostitute? Naomi felt weird.


"No. I came for a drink" said Naomi. 


"Well, I'd like to know you. I’m Jimmy. What’s yours?"


She introduced herself with a big smile.




"It's a good name," Jimmy said.


Yes, Naomi is used as a female name not only in Japan but also in the United States. Naomi involuntarily thought about switching from Genjiro to Jimmy.


Then she heard someone banging on the jukebox. He was another young American boy in this bar.


"Hey, Master, is this broken? I put a coin in it because I wanted to listen to “Soldier Boy”, but it doesn't move."


The master went to the jukebox and hit it as well. The music never played. Naomi looked towards the stage. There was a set of bands there. There were drums, piano, and guitar, and a microphone at the front of the stage.


Naomi knew the song “Soldier Boy”. It is a pop song that became a hit in the 1960s by the Shirelles, a vocal group of four Black women in the United States. She also remembered the lyrics. It was easy to sing even with a Japanese girl because of simple English texts.

The songs of the early days of rock and pop in the 50s and 60s were easy to sing even by singers whose native language is not English because the lyrics were not complicated and the tone is smooth.


Naomi looked at Jimmy and smiled, wanting to show him and his friends her speciality, so she headed for the stage.


She picked up the guitar and headed to the microphone. She switched on the microphone.


"Soldier Boy, Oh my little Soldier Boy," shouted out the opening phrase of the lyrics.


The gazes of the American soldiers suddenly focused on her. Naomi then continued to sing "Soldier Boy" while playing guitar. The lyrics were something like "You are my first and last lover, my heart would chase whatever battlefield you go to," a song about love for soldiers on the battlefield.


Quickly Jimmy came up to the drums and played with the tune of her song and guitar. It was a bit rough, but it fit the tune. Naomi's beautiful voice echoes throughout the bar. The American soldiers were attracted to her all at once.


Some said, "This is our song." The place was filled with excitement. Naomi was also intoxicated by the atmosphere of the place.


She then sang a song that became a hit in Japan and the United States at the same time, "Ue Wo Muite Aruko (Let's Walk Upwards)" by Kyu Sakamoto, and the English title released oversea was “Sukiyaki”. The lyrics were all sung in Japanese, but it was a big hit in the United States.


This was also a very good response. Why were today's young people moved by listening to such old songs? The best songs were those that last for generations, so it was only natural.


"Bravo," Jimmy exclaimed, and the others applauded.


It's like receiving a huge standing ovation on an overseas tour. Oh, glad she was a singer.


When she finished singing, there was a loud applause. Soon after, another oldies song came from the jukebox. Shirelles' "Mama Said" was played. Apparently, only "Soldier Boy" had a breakdown.

Naomi put down the guitar and got off the stage and headed for the counter with Jimmy.


"Great, beautiful," came the jubilant voices from those around them.


"Thank you, thank you," she replied.


Jimmy smiled and said to Naomi.


"I'll get you a drink, Master."


"Oh never mind, I'm here to drink for myself. Thank you for the drums," Naomi said.


"I’m an amateur drummer, but you're a professional singer."


"Oh not yet" Naomi said.


The master, a middle-aged man, said to Naomi.


"On the House, it's a treat from the bar," handing Naomi a glass of whiskey.


The master had a look of overjoy.


"You're a singer, aren't you? Why don't you work for this bar? I made a stage, but I couldn't find a good singer. How about ten dollars a night?"


"Ten dollars?" Naomi took a sip of her whiskey. It was true that this is a place with a lot of American soldiers, so using US dollar sounded reasonable but it was not usual to pay a Japanese woman like her in dollars? In fact, “Ten dollars” was also very cheap.


"Why dollars?" asked Naomi to the master.


"Oh, are you from Naichi? I figured out from the way you speak. This is Okinawa. Money is spent in dollars" said Master.


"You use the yen daily, US dollars are for Americans?” said Naomi.

"Okinawa is still separated from the Japan. Didn’t you come here without knowing that?"


Well, Naomi became more confused. Jimmy interrupted.


"Naomi, do you live here in Okinawa?"


"I'm from Tokyo, on vacation."


"On vacation, from such a distance."


Then the master interrupted.


"From Tokyo? did you come with the Reversion to Homeland Council?"


Reversion to Homeland Council? It was an unfamiliar term to her.


"What are you talking about?"


Naomi had just downed her whiskey. She felt the drunkenness come around.


"I'll be the next one to treat you," Jimmy said.


The master offered Naomi a cocktail.


"Don't worry, Jimmy. I'll pay for it myself. How many dollars?" Naomi said. As she was about to take her purse out of her pocket though she never had any dollar bill, the master said,


"Don't worry, Everybody pays more and more like that. Drink as much as you want."


Master fingerpointed to a huge drum can in front of the counter. U.S. soldiers were throwing dollar bills to it.


"It's a hassle to pay for every single order, so they throw it in and drink as much as they want. Before they go to the battlefield and die."


Naomi understood. But it was amazing that the bar was making a big sales. Soldiers from Camp Schwab? It was true that fighting is still going on in Afghanistan.


"Jimmy, are you going to the battlefield, too?"


Naomi asked, and he said,


"Yes, we're training here for the battlefield in Vietnam."




That Vietnam, that Vietnam in Southeast Asia? She wondered if they were at war right now. She certainly learned about the Vietnam War in history class in schooldays.


Naomi couldn’t get what the Council for the Reversion to Homeland, Vietnam mean, these people were making fun of her?


"Look at today's newspaper, it's about the people in the council," Master said as he held out the newspaper to Naomi.


It was a local newspaper called "Okinawa Times". The headline was "Met with Prime Minister Sato in Tokyo: The Council for the Reversion to Homeland Returned to Okinawa" Naomi quickly opened the newspaper and looked at the other pages.


"South Vietnam: Intensifying Fights with the Liberation Army: Deploying More U.S. Ground Troops"


Naomi looked curiously at the newspaper's publication date. "August X of 1968" That was fifty years ago.


"Why do you keep such an old newspaper?"


She asked the master,


"What are you saying, this is today's newspaper."


He replied with a serious look. He didn't seem to be joking.


But she couldn’t believe it. However, this place looked different from the twenty-first century she knew. The soldiers gathered in the bar and drank, but the clothes they were wearing are a little outdated even though they were young. They wore shirts and jeans pants, but the design looked like the old era. Maybe it was not a big thing, she thought. She never knew about the most recent American fashion.


Naomi thought it was because she drank too much and got drunk. Is that why she was hallucinating?


She thought she should get out of this bar and touch the outside fresh air. She felt good about singing, but drank too much. As she left the counter and headed for the door. Master and Jimmy called her behind back, "Are you okay?"


Naomi found herself indeed drunk. Her steps were a little wobbly. Then she walked out the door. She stopped on the side of the road, a short distance from the bar.


Compared to the inside, She could breathe a clear air. It was August, so it was humid, but she could feel the sea breeze at night. She stood there for a few minutes. It was really quiet outside compared to the bar inside.


She was relieved to feel that the drunkenness had cooled down slightly. Naomi decided to return to the bar. She thought about drinking soda water. She placed her hand on the door knob and tried to open the door.


She couldn’t open it. It was locked. Was this bar closed while she was outside? She knocked on the door. She put her ear to the door but couldn’t hear anything.


The bar closed while Naomi was out for a few minutes. But it was weird. Inside were dozens of young noisy American soldiers. They must have gone out too. If that was the case, she would have noticed that, too.


Maybe she got drunk and fell asleep standing? So she didn't notice people leaving? What she thought a few minutes long may have been hours.


Or maybe she had been standing there dreaming since she had come near this bar? Something strange happened no matter how she thought about it. She wondered if there were so many American soldiers coming to this bar. Uttered unfamiliar words like “Reversion to Homeland” and “battlefields in Vietnam”.


In any case, Naomi felt that she was not in a decent mental state. She thought should hurry back to the inn and rest, she wondered if she had a terrible hallucination from the shock of being turned away by Genjiro and from drinking too much. She also wondered if the handsome Jimmy was also a phantom.


Naomi returned to the inn leaving the Stars and Stripes wall.



To be continued to Chapter 3

12:08 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

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