Posts Tagged ‘Okinawa’

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Is that a trail of blood leading down a hall in the haunted Royal Hotel ruins in Nakagusuku, Okinawa? Nah, it’s just a moldy old carpet. But spirits are said to still slink around the complex, which was left unfinished when workers mysteriously died during construction and the developer went insane.
DAVID ALLEN / S&S

Unfinished, abandoned buildings attest to island’s haunted nature

By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES
Published: October 30, 2005

The island of Okinawa is one scary place.

Okinawa is haunted. All you have to do is drive around and see buildings left unfinished because some spirit has made its presence known, or a house abandoned because some ghost scared its occupants. There are so many such spooky sights on Okinawa that both Kadena Air Base’s 18th Services Squadron and Marine Corps Community Services have special Halloween tours that sell out weeks in advance.

Want a good fright on Halloween night? There’s plenty to choose from.

Kadena Air Base has two creepy haunts. There’s a small house, number 2283, behind the Kadena USO that is now used for storage because few people could stand to live there. It is said it was built over an ancient burial ground and the souls of those once buried there can never find rest.

The house is smaller than the others in the area because one room was so cold that no one could sleep there and it was torn down. And, to add to the horror, an officer beat his wife to death inside the house sometime in the early 1970s.

Or was it a teenage girl stabbed to death by her stepfather? No one is sure anymore, and the tour guides like to tell both stories — and the one about the Samurai warrior who rides his steed through the living room.

One of the best guides to Okinawa’s haunted sites is “The Ghosts of Okinawa,” a book by Jayne A. Hitchcock, who lived on Okinawa from 1992 to 1995. It’s a Halloween bestseller at base bookstores.

Hitchcock was so taken with the stories of the spooky Kadena house that she held a séance there on Oct. 31, 1994. She claims she saw the ghosts of two children who talked about being afraid of a man on a horse.

The other chief haunted site on the air base is the golf course, where legend has it that 17 high school girls pressed into the service of the Japanese Imperial Army committed suicide when the Americans landed on nearby beaches on April 1, 1945. Some people have reported hearing wailing coming from the area late at night.

And don’t count the Marine bases out. Hitchcock’s book mentions her own personal spook, a sailor in a peacoat she called Mike who lounged around her Camp Foster home, playfully pitching pennies and guitar picks at unsuspecting guests and her husband. She never did find out why he was there.

Then there’s the samurai warrior who is said to trudge uphill toward Futenma Housing on Camp Foster from Stillwell Drive. He looks mean, but seemingly never pays attention to the cars that pass by.

Perhaps the best-known Okinawa haunt, though, is the skeletal remains of the Royal Hotel on the ruins of Nakagusuku Castle, near Camp Foster.

The story says a Naha businessman convinced villagers that he could attract tourists to the castle ruins by building a zoo next door. Admission fees were to go toward restoration of the 13th-century castle. Then came the 1975 Okinawa Memorial Exposition, and the greedy promoter expanded the plans to include a luxury hotel on the hillside.

Villagers warned him that the grounds were sacred, but he ignored them. Soon, the project, designed as an elaborate resort village with a casino and water park, began to take shape. The man poured millions of dollars into the project, but work was hampered when monks at the nearby Buddhist temple told him he was building too close to a cave inhabited by restless spirits.

Some of his workmen left when they heard the warnings, others abandoned the site only after several workmen died in mysterious construction accidents.

Setsuko Inafuku, a tour guide from Kadena Air Base, notes that the businessman went bankrupt, fell ill and later went insane. The haunting at the hotel was so severe that one of the monks decided to live for a while in one of the hotel’s unfinished rooms and built a small altar to appease the spirits.

Some people say the businessman went insane long before construction halted. The hotel is a maze of stairs that go nowhere and dead-end, graffiti-filled corridors leading to rooms where old mattresses, moldy tatami mats and broken pieces of furniture lie scattered about.

Today the site is a popular spot for teens playing “dare me” games on moonless nights and urban warriors stalking each other with pellet guns.

Small shrines set up to appease the spirits can be found throughout Okinawa. For example, near Kadena Air Base, there is an altar built alongside the Okinawa Expressway where it goes through a hill in the Chibana district of Okinawa City. When the national government designed the toll road that stretches from Naha to Nago, no one paid much attention to the “fairy” tales told about the hill, which had been used since ancient days as a place of prayer.

However, after several construction workers died after dynamiting a pass through the hill, the shrine was set up. According to a local historian, the accidents stopped soon thereafter.

There are many tales of ghosts hailing cabs to take them on their ghostly journeys. Shoji Endo, a former professor of Japanese literature at Okinawa International University, collected thousands of such tales before he retired recently.

One of his favorite stories was the tale of a woman holding a small baby who hailed a rickshaw one night in 1931 in Naha, the prefecture’s capital. The rickshaw man took her across the city. He dropped her off at a new home and waited patiently while she went inside, promising to return with his fee. After a few minutes he knocked on the door of the home and a man answered.

When the rickshaw driver explained what had happened, the man sighed deeply and handed him his fare, explaining that the woman and baby were his wife and son, who had died some years before. Every now and then, he said, they caught a rickshaw from their old home to the man’s new abode.

The Eat Write Cafe

Posted: September 13, 2018 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,

davidreads

David Allen reads at The Eat Write Cafe

Twenty years ago I stepped into a basement bar on Okinawa and was transformed. I was there to write a story about an Open Mic night run by Americans connected to the large military presence on the island. I was the Okinawa News Bureau Chief for Stars and Stripes. That night started my foray into public readings of my own work.

Thanks Amy and Michael!

Pacific Stars and Stripes
Tuesday, September 15, 1998

Bar gives Kadena muses a
              place to be heard

              Traveling poets tell your tales
              wherever you go.
              Don’t let them tell you no.
              Don’t think it’s better to
              hide with a pad of paper
              and ink on your hands
              than to share your souls
              with the world.
              Scream, pray, love, write
              and be true to the words.
              We are poets, we are
              a single voice of power.
              Scream out with me
              and be heard!
– Michael Monroe

               By DAVID ALLEN
              Stripes Okinawa Bureau Chief

              OKINAWA CITY, Japan — This is a definite departure from the normal nighttime entertainment on Okinawa’s infamous Gate 2 Street.
              

               In the snug basement bar called “Jack Nasty’s Neanderthal,”
              well known for its hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll every weekend
              night, a transformation takes place on the first Saturday of
              the month.

              You wouldn’t guess it at first. Just after dark, some of the
              street’s clubs begin to open. The bar girls with their high and
              tight skirts still linger on benches in the humid, subtropical
              night, trying to lure young American servicemen upstairs for a drink.

              It could be any street outside any gate of any military
              base in the world.

               But on this street outside Kadena Air Base’s Gate 2,
              something else is happening. There’s another kind of crowd
              descending into Jack’s. The place still smells a bit moldy, and
              the drinks are still a cheap 500 yen, but up there on the stage
              are people who have poured their souls onto a page.

              At 7:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month (and the third
              Saturday just down the street at “The Jet”), this cozy club
              becomes the “Eat Write Cafe Traveling Poets-Society.”
              They’re open-mike nights. Take your scrawled notes in
              abused notebooks, typewritten pages of untamed poetry,
              scraps of rhyme on restaurant napkins and bring them on
              down to the Eat Write. The crowd’s hungry for what you
              have to say.

              This is poet Amy Love’s dream and Michael Monroe’s
              newfound calling.

              “I had this vision 10 years ago when I was teaching on
              Guam,” said Love, a former English teacher at the University
              of Maryland. “I always felt divided between the academic
              world and something else. It took a while to realize what I
              wanted was to live poetry full time.”

              The readings began in the living room of her home in
              Yamauchi, but it wasn’t public enough. She needed to bring
              poetry to the people.

              “One midnight I was wandering around the neighborhood,
              and I came across a coffee shop called the Cafe Zen,” Love
              said. “We started there in April or May of ’97. But it was too
              small; we were discovering a lot of people on Okinawa were
              into poetry. They liked to write, read and listen, but there
              was no place to go with it.”

              It wasn’t until she sponsored a one-night-only poetry reading
              at the USO on Camp Schwab, however, that she realized
              just how large the audience was for poetry on Okinawa.

              “I went up on this stage and started to read to this captive
              audience of about 60 Marines who had been watching
              movies,” Love said. “The response was so overwhelming.
              They were listening; some of the guys ran out of the place
              and came back with poems in their hands, stuff they had
              been keeping quiet about. I gave them the mike. It was
              beautiful.

              “Poetry is not what you think – that’s my message,” she said.
              “So many of us got turned off from poetry in school. But the
              need to be heard, to be understood is within all of us. The
              muse is there. So, I started passing around fliers announcing
              the Eat Write Cafe. That’s when I changed my name to Amy
              Love, to make what I was doing totally distinct from my
              teaching. I didn’t want to rely on the students.”

              She’s also realized after 13 years that teaching was
              “complete insanity, trying to fit in where I didn’t belong.” She
              left her teaching post at the University of Maryland this
              spring.

              “It’s like what Ginsberg wrote in ‘Howl’,” the former Anne
              Tibbets said. “‘I saw the best minds of my generation
              destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked / dragging
              themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for a
              fix. . .'”

             The fix was poetry. “So many people have that creative side
              to them, but it’s stifled,” she said. “And they stuff it away
              deep inside them. After all, you can’t make any money at it.
              So, it’s on a low flame, burning you up inside. What the Eat
              Write does is provide an outlet.”

              Love decided to take poetry to where the troops are –
              Saturday nights on Gate 2 Street.

              It took a bar owner with the poetic one word name,
              Katchan, to make it a reality. Katchan, who, with long black
              hair and chest-length bushy beard, looks imposing until he
              breaks into a toothy grin, immediately warmed to the idea of
              turning his club, Jack Nasty’s, into a once-a-month Eat Write
              Cafe.

              “I told Amy I like poetry,” Katchan, an Okinawan, said. “I
              have my own band, the Katsen Band, that plays here every
              weekend night after 10. Poetry, music, it all comes from the
              same place – the heart.”

              The nights at Nasty’s can be raw. Anything goes on the stage
              illuminated only by a green neon light, the blue flicker of
              empty TV screens and a few dim lamps. The walls are
              plastered with one-dollar bills signed by long-gone GIs; a
              pair of manikin legs and a wooden wagon wheel stick out
              from a loft above the stage.

              On any night, the poetry ranges from the sophomoric rhymes
              of a young woman longing for love, to angry outlashes at the
              world that may bring to mind the early works of Allen
              Ginsberg or Jack Kerouac. The poets, many of them new to
              the art, are experimenting with style, substance, syntax and
              varying degrees of solemnity.

              These are unleashed feelings, sometimes laced with humor,
              just to break the mood.

              “It doesn’t matter how polished the person is,” Love said.
              “Letting people have their voice is more important than
              cutting somebody off.”

              The readings on Gate 2 Street began last January and show
              no signs of stopping. On a recent night, about 30 people
              listened to a variety of poems.

              A Special Forces trooper with bulging biceps and
              short-cropped hair gave the mike over to a woman wearing
              argyle socks and a thigh-length pleated plaid skirt.

              Michael Monroe, who serves as a Marine during the day
              under a different name, is the master of ceremonies. He took
              over after Love left for the States earlier this month. She
              plans to travel the United States with her 5-year-old
              daughter, Ginger, tramping and setting up other Eat Write
              Cafes as she goes.

              “The plan is to get a small camper so we can live in it and
              drive around,” she said a few weeks before she departed.
              “It’s kind of scary to give up a good job and all, but poetry is
              my life now. I’ve got to live it.

              “We have to take poetry to the people, renew the oral
              tradition,” Love said. “We’re going to the small cities, towns,
              places where the rebirth of poetry is not already happening.”

              Love said she’d like to come back to Okinawa some day,
              maybe open a club of her own with open mike every night.

              Meanwhile, Monroe carries the torch.

              “I’d been writing in the closet until Amy came along and
              brought me out,” Monroe said. “I didn’t know there was
              something like this out there. It was an awakening.”

              Monroe, a Marine sergeant and a native of Brooklyn, is a
              natural MC. Instead of calling for the poets according to
              their place on the sign-up sheet, he weaves a pattern,
              knowing that the stage-struck Marine with the machine-gun
              patter is the perfect follow for the intensely shy young airman
              from Kadena Air Base, who just bared her soul for the first
              time on any stage.

              “You’re liable to hear anything – from 18th-century romantic
              ideals to the poetry of the Beats, to some very modern and
              intense surrealism,” Monroe said. “I love to mix it up.

              “I found I was a natural up there,” he said. “I knew if Amy
              ever left, I’d have to step into the vacuum to keep it going.”

              Midway through the nights at Jack Nasty’s, young
              servicemen come down the steep stairs looking for a few
              cold beers and a bar girl or two to sit on their laps. Most
              peer around the corner of the stairs, see the poets on stage
              and realize it’s not their scene.

              But a few descend, discovering something new.

              “That’s what I love about this,” Monroe said. “Having so
              many people from so many diverse backgrounds come in
              and listen and read – it makes my mouth water. I love being
              there, seeing the response on people’s faces. Seeing them get
              Seeing them get it. It’s all about being up there and being heard.”

              Poets need to be heard.”

LUNCH
AMBASSADOR’S LUNCH
By David Allen

What’s wrong
with this picture?
The U.S. Ambassador
to Japan is to address
Okinawa business leaders
at a lunch today and
here we are in the press corral
sitting at roped off tables
watching everyone else
eat while we sip our water
and wait for the ambassador
to wipe his lips and
nod in thanks for
the pleasant introduction
from the governor
and spin a speech
about how great
the U.S.-Japan alliance is.
Meanwhile, the press’s unfed
stomachs rumble.
We weren’t fed and
a good free meal
is the major reason I came.

Guam

There’s No Snow
By David Allen

Oh the weather outside’s delightful
We don’t mean this to sound spiteful
It’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!”

We’ve discovered a brand new beach
Not crowded and not out of reach
The only footsteps are our own
Our hearts are skipping like a stone

While Christmas shoppers are crushing their elbows
We’re walking in sand in bare toes
It’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow,
There’s no snow!”

We can be hugging each other tight
On the patio late at night
Enjoying the subtropical breeze
And drinking whatever we please

Ruth Ellen’s health was a disaster
Twelve months later, all that’s past her
Newly childless we’re on our own
There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

She became founder just this spring
Of a very important thing
A women’s group of some renown
The only chapter not in a stateside town

This past year we’ve had our hands full
From New Years right to this Yule
And we’re happy wherever we go
There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

Lot of good has occurred this year
Old friends dropped in for a beer
Traveling 6,000 miles or so
But at least, they escaped the snow

David’s muse has returned with a vengeance
He’s a poet, he’s no longer past tense
At the readings, he’s part of the show
The earth shakes, but at least
There’s no snow!

The palm trees are swaying in time
To this seasonal rhyme
I’m thinking I’m glad your mine
Living in the best of our times

Oh the year’s start was a little frightful
Me in my shell, I was quite a sightful
Now I’m free and the scars hardly show
And there’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

I practice my meditation
Driving without direction
Coastal roads climb mountain heights
The clear blue ocean’s such a great sight

We’re not saying we’ve had no problems
But we’re finding ways to solve them
They scatter as the breezes blow
And there’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

It’s so wonderful to be here
Especially this time of the year
The Chrismas lights sure look nice
And we don’t have to scrape any ice

You might think warm weather spoils the season
But it doesn’t, it gives us a reason
Like kids on cardboard sleds without snow
We make it up as along we go

They slide down the hills of grass
And though they might not go as fast
They are not bundled up for snow
Like some poor Eskimo

While I write I eat the meatrageous.
Ahh, this feeling is getting contagious
I’m singing as the words flow
There’s no snow, there’s no snow,
There’s no snow!

It’s a wonderful time of year
And it’s making one thing so clear
That as long as our good luck holds
We’re never going to be cold

Oh the weather outside’s delightful
And I don’t mean this to sound spiteful
But it’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!”

Okinawa Christmas 1999

 

SANTASUN1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occult Hand 001

THE OCCULT HAND
By David Allen

I admit it
I confess
I joined a cult
Who would’ve guessed
That I’d fall in
With an obscure band
But it’s true that
I’m an Occult Hand.

I was baptized five times
When just a tyke
As my Mom searched
For a church she liked
But what I found
Was no Christian cult
I found my niche
When, I became an adult

I turned to the Dark Side
The Fourth Estate
Covering the news
In several states
I wrote about crime
And I covered the courts
And for a short time
I even wrote about sports

But the best gig of all
Was when I moved to Japan
And Stars and Stripes gave
Me a bureau to command
It was when Okinawa
Went through a serious drought
A strange story surfaced
And I found out about

A ritual on a tiny isle
Where the villagers danced
With a priestesses
Who sang a chant
And soon weeks of rain
Fell on a single day

“It was if an occult hand
Swept clouds Okinawa’s way.”

An editor in Tokyo laughed
And let the lede stand
That’s how I became a member
Of the Occult Hand
It’s a secret order that never meets
Lacks a leader and has but one rite
“It’s as of an occult hand had…”
The reporter must write

Publication of the phrase
Gives the writer full rights
To boast he’s a member
On post-deadline nights
Bragging to his bar mates
Toasting to the cult
Regaling them with stories
With each Guinness gulp

CHERRY 1

SPRING HAIKUS
By David Allen

Spring rain brings rebirth
Flowers, warmth and grassy lawns
My basement’s flooded

 
Wake up Smokey Bear
Exit your cave, spring is here
Fires must be doused

 
Warm weather’s returned
Let us walk by the river
“Take a hike!” he said

 
Time for spring cleaning
Purge clutter, tend the gardens
The hammock awaits

 
Spring break now begins
Southern beaches, sun and fun
Raising gas prices

 
Driving windows down
Feeling the warming spring air
Cost just an hour

 

reandme

March Mischief
By David Allen

The sun has returned,
the light’s too bright
after months of clouds.
We have lived through
several Februarys,
sun deprivation,
as the clouds and rain
dampened our spirits,
drugged us into
a somnambulistic shuffle,
merely marking the days,
the heatless hours,
cold nights in the subtropics.
Shivering, she screamed,
“Next year we winter in Guam!”
And headed undercover.
But now, all’s forgiven
as the sun warms us,
lulls us into shorts, bare feet,
ice cold beers in the afternoon,
lounging on the lawn
soaking in the rays,
building up the base
for nose blisters,
flaking foreheads.
All the while, Sol smiles
mischievously,
he knows the rainy season
is just weeks away.

……………………………………………………………………………………
The latest Indiana Voice Journal is out. Read your copy today!

http://www.indianavoicejournal.com/2016/03/poetry-passion-and-song-march-2016.html

Ambassador
Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer met with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, February 2008.

AMBASSADOR’S LUNCH
By David Allen

What’s wrong
with this picture?
The U.S. Ambassador
to Japan is to address
Okinawa business leaders
at a lunch today and
here we are in the press corral
sitting at roped off tables
watching everyone else
eat while we sip our water
and wait for the ambassador
to wipe his lips and
nod in thanks for
the pleasant introduction
from the governor
and spin a speech
about how great
the U.S.-Japan alliance is.
Meanwhile, the press’s unfed
stomachs rumble.
We weren’t fed and
a good free meal
is the major reason I came.

o-DINING-ALONE-facebook

(god) DAMMIT
By David Allen

Sitting here
Drinking coffee,
Scarfing down
A cheese Danish,
Waiting for the atheists
To arrive.
A movie night
With the Okinawa
Freethought Society,
Gonna watch a flick
About how religion’s
“The Root of All Evil,”
By Richard Dawkins.
But it’s already 8 p.m.
And no one’s
Showed up yet.
Goddamit!
Where the hell
Are they?

airline_passenger_portraits

ACCEPTANCE
By David Allen

Flying over the pacific
is never peaceful –
I return to the problems
I left behind when I fled
to the East.

The woman sitting next to me
strikes up a conversation,
she’s the mother of a Marine
assigned to Okinawa
and is returning after a visit
to her first granddaughter.
“She is healthy,
God bless,” she declares.
And this woman’s husband
has a successful electrical business
in St. Louis — “God Bless!” — and life,
“Praise the Lord!”
Is good.

Somewhere in the conversation
I mention I am going to Indiana
for the birth of my second grandchild
and a brief trek to New York
to tout my new book of poetry.

She asks to look at the book
and I find one in my bag,
and, as she reads, I watch
out of the corner of my eye,
pretending to read a magazine
while trying to fathom
her reaction to my poems.
My blood is all over the pages.

I spot her reading
the one about another flight
and the religious Filipina
and scientific Japanese student
sitting next to me, the dirty old man poet
reading Bukowski and dreaming
of smooth, creamy white thighs,
and I wonder what my new seatmate
is thinking.

When she is finished
she mentions the poems are
“interesting,” and handing
the book back asks –
“Have you accepted Jesus
as your personal savior?”

I smile, realizing the conversation is
about to end and answer,
“I tried several times
but he never accepted me.”

And we slept in silence
the rest of the flight.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

(more) CoverMy second book of poetry, “(more)’ is now available on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is also available. If you want a signed copy, email me at david@davidallen.nu. Order your copy today! I am like most poets — poor.

http://www.amazon.com/more-David-Allen-ebook/dp/B00N6W3DP8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-2&keywords=%28more%29+by+David+Allen

Here’s a review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Wanting (more), September 2, 2014
By Jenny A. Kalahar “the_story_shop” (Elwood, IN USA)
Here are wonderful, literate poems of longing, wit, wisdom and resistance; justice, injustice, the absurdities of life and of growing older. There are lines full of sensuality at every stage of our existence, and of the waste and usefulness around us. Tinged with the atmosphere of the Orient, they are as luxurious as legs that go all the way up. Mr. Allen’s years as a newspaper man stain his poems with a rougher ink that sticks to your fingers long after you’ve turned his pages. There are losses – parents, loved ones, friends – but there are poems of finding and creating. Children, grandchildren, lovers, partners in crime and art all swirl throughout this collection, humming like a secret humming song. But unlike most hummed songs, these words do matter. They do. So read them now and sing along.

AND HERE’S MY FIRST BOOK

Cover

Like my poetry? Then buy my book, “The Story So Far,” published by Writers Ink Press, Long Island, N.Y. You can find it on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Story-So-Far-David-Allen/dp/0925062480/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397184666&sr=1-13&keywords=the+story+so+far) in paperback and Kindle formats, or by sending me $10 at:

David Allen
803 Avalon Lane
Chesterfield, IN 46017