The Tenth Annual Okinawa Full Moon Festival will be held at Sedake Beach, northern Okinawa, November 8 and 9. This is a festival of traditional, folk, and rock music in protest of – or better, in celebration of the opposition to – the construction of a new US Marine Corps helipad nearby.
The helipad, designed to be home to the Marines’ accident-prone Osprey, is to be built by filling in a part of the pristine Oura Bay which is, among other things, the northernmost habitat for the endangered mammal, the Dugong.
The local fisherfolks, with some outside help, have carried on a continuous protest sit-in officially since 2004, and in fact from some time before that. They have also been going out day after day in sea-kayaks and small boats, getting in the way of survey boats and divers, and doing whatever they (legally) can to interfere with and slow down the process. The strategy has been exhausting and dangerous, but effective: construction is way behind schedule.
The annual festival is held on full moon night partly to overcome the isolation of this Okinawan movement. The full moon, the sponsors say, happens everywhere. So people in any country, in any hemisphere, can participate in the festival.
They would like to ask you to step outside your door one of those evenings – if with a few friends, better yet! – look at the moon, think about the music festival going on in Okinawa, think about Okinawa’s long, hard history, and the people’s belief in the principle, Nuchi du Takara: Life is the Treasure.
And if you think you are likely to do that, they would appreciate it very much if you send them a message of solidarity in advance. They already have promises from South Korea, the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, and a number of cities in mainland Japan. If you send a message to them, they will probably read it out at the Festival.