Karate outside the dōjō
Karate enthusiasts who visit Okinawa usually train a lot, enjoy time with their instructors and friends and dedicate the rest of their time enjoying and discovering Okinawa, its culture and multifaceted society. Some interested in karate’s history take the time to visit karate monuments or take a karate tour to physically experience the tangible aspects of Okinawa karate and to pay their respect to the masters of the past.
Others who are really into culture and history take the time to visit local museums and libraries, some even spending their free time navigating between the many second-hand bookstores in search of a rare book. One of the few bookstores specialized in karate is Yōju Shorin (in Japanese) located in Ginowan City.
There is also the Okinawa Prefectural Archives that houses many documents and films related to karate.
When it comes to books, the must visit library was the Okinawa Prefectural Library (in Japanese) that was located in Yogi Park, Naha City. This facility is being relocated on the grounds of where used to be the Naha Bus Terminal. It will be housed on the 3rd to the 6th floor of a new complex building constructed as part of the Asahibashi monorail station redevelopment project. The new library should open in December 2018.
No need to mention that a must visit site is the Okinawa Karate Kaikan and its Archives. But did you know that the exhibition hall home of the Archives also houses a small but precious room known as the Shiryō etsuran shitsu or document reading/research room. With the many books and documents donated by late masters such as Takamiyagi Shigeru, the room’s collection is quite consequent and worth the visit. Indeed, the research team is working daily to file and unveil new books and documents such as newspapers’ articles some dating of 1895!
Now, if you have an inquiry regarding documents that might be on the bookshelves or about any other type of project, the best is to first send an email to one of the curators working at the Karate Promotion Division. The email address is 82500[@]pref.okinawa.lg.jp (Please remove the [ ] before and after @). Note that this office is not located within the Okinawa Karate Kaikan but within the Okinawa Prefecture Government Building.
As you see, and although he meant something else, Funakoshi Gichin’s principles “dōjō nomi no karate to omou na – Do not think that karate is only in the dōjō” is very much true.