Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan by the U.S., and there was a ceremony marking the event attended by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. ambassador John Roos. Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa was a separate kingdom with its own culture and language until it was annexed by Japan in 1609, and to this day it’s expected that Okinawans will be different from Japanese in subtle ways, usually violating the rules of joshiki or “universal common sense” that mainland Japanese pride themselves on. (For example, they love A&W root beer, which Japanese nearly always dislike.) Okinawans are quite attractive, and most of the major pop groups from the 1990s hailed from talent schools on the island, though South Korea has taken over this role lately. A big issue in Okinawa today are the U.S. military bases, which take up 20% of the prefecture’s land mass and bring various hardships to the local population, though much of the economy depends on military-related jobs, too. In addition to hosting the U.S. bases, Okinawa serves as the setting for the obligatory “fan service” swimsuit episodes that virtually every anime series has these days.
Okinawans, like Hibiki from Idolmasters, are subtly different from Japanese.