Now that I think of it, I did come quite far; not that I want to remind you of that song1. When we first moved in here, a strange impression occurred to me every time I opened the window. Outside was the neighbour’s garden. Banana leaves rustling and fluttering in the southerly wind, a papaya tree—abundant with dark green fruits—grown straight up towards the bright blue sky, and vivid flowers covering the garden fence. An utterly perfect scenery of what the South Seas is.
Yet, sometimes, such sceneries tired me deep down in my heart, to the point it reminded me of an exile. I moved to Naha without any prospects, but out of fear to be separated from my wife who was struck down by a serious Okinawan passion, pressuring me: “Either we move here or we divorce!”
My wife had promptly found a job, and at home is left a jobless man who would soon become forty years old.
“So, what will become of me…?”
The blueness of this tropical sky made me feel even more so. Admiring the bright blues and greens outside the window, I often pondered over one’s life which I had hardly thought about, or got lost in some deep thoughts.
Katabui is a rain unique to this island that calls a “Halt!” to such smoldering feelings, instantly driving you out of any judgment. It always comes by surprise.
As the dark clouds swiftly cover the clear sky, a chilly breeze blows up into the air, the banana leaves sway back and forth as if they are dancing to kachāshī, and then comes a torrential downpour you might believe someone has just turned over a bathtub.
In such a situation, a jobless-life-smoldering-man has no time to be worried. Utter chaos: take the futon2 in, then the laundries. Whether the holes of worn-out socks would rip open or the L-sized underwear of my dear old lady would stretch wider, do not mind and just tear them off the clothespin and throw them in the room for goodness sake! Its heavy rainfall can in fact get your underwear dripping wet during the only few minutes taking the laundry in.
A katabui (partial rainfall) is well said—this rain falls only in limited areas. To find a subtropical deeply blue sky just a few hundred meters away is a very common thing here. The locals call this rain tīda-ami, the sun rain.
The rain clouds gallop through the air in an instant, but the real problem comes right then. The sun turns up and blazes down with a skin-burning beam, letting out extreme heat and humidity. Such atmospheric phenomena occur multiple times in one day during the summer.
This gets more obvious when you are in a car. Often, as the rain pours heavily the wipers are no good, yet all of a sudden it disappears magically and the sky clears. After a while comes the rainfall again, and a few minutes later the sunny weather returns. A wet road with a dry lane across the median strip is also not an unusual sight.
Thus, katabui is a short-intensive-localized-showdown rain with true up-and-downs. Anyhow, what awaits the jobless-smoldering man is his duty to diligently dry back the laundry on the porch after the torrent passes.
Living under such capricious weather, there is no time to feel depressed. And hence, after all, I got to live a nankuru3–life like the banana leaf outside the window, blown in the wind, as it is—for which, I call a “katabui therapy.”
- “Omoeba Tōku e Kita Monda” by KAIENTAI, released in 1978.
- Japanese thick quilts, or futons, are often aired out in the sun during the day.
- “Nankuru” is an Okinawan dialect meaning “naturally, of its own accord.”