If there is one thing I love most about photography, it is its ability to transform YOU as a photographer. God seems to use the subjects you see through your lens and the experiences you encounter to prepare you for circumstances you never knew you’d be a part of. These past two years I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling and photographing while “mom-ing”.
Traveling from Hawaii to Japan (and then onward to Alaska–but I will save that fun for another blog), makes the Pacific seem a little smaller now. It was a really incredible experience and I am beyond thrilled I was able to have those memories with and of my, then two year old, daughter.
I was able to teach her things that only adventuring provides the opportunity for.
Not to mention, only touring on our two feet allows for the kind of chats we had. The depth, the emotion, the understanding of one another’s minds; indescribable.
Living amongst history at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, I always found the stories intriguing. The longer I am somewhere, the more I want to peel back the cultural layers. Japan was the same way. We were able to talk about the way God molds us to be different and share those differences with one another to become a unit, His hands and feet.
We traveled the island a lot by foot, averaging about 4.5 miles a day, with one day over 7 miles round trip. We met a lot of people on our travels, some who spoke minimal English, which Haisley found very amusing.
We also used a local service to take us longer distances as well as some wonderful friends when they had the time.
There was one aspect of Okinawa I found most surprising, the lack of flags I found. When I travel I have a few “bucket list” shots I always want to snap. One of those for Japan was a Japanese flag being flown. I felt that it would bring the stories of the attack of Pearl Harbor full circle for me. I was astonished when by day three on Okinawa I still had yet to find a flag, at all…anywhere. It wasn’t until the nineth day (after purposeful looking) I saw my first Japanese flag. I am sure there had to be more which I didn’t ever see, however this took me by surprise so much that I did a little research.
According to one source from 2015, The Stars and Stripes Newspaper in Okinawa, “In Japan, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, concerned about the national flag’s lack of prominence, this year issued a directive strongly encouraging the country’s universities to fly it. But the flag’s long-ago association with the country’s wartime imperialism leaves some uncomfortable.” After seeing this written in different ways by different credible sources across the internet it was made clear. America, especially myself, has a unique stance on the flag and often is viewed as overly flag-happy.
I still do and will always hold our American flag in the highest regard. However, as we travel to other countries, I have really come to understand that we cannot assume those same symbolic meanings are true for all. On the surface, I feel like we all know this but it took me to experience this one situation to really let it sink in. Okinawan’s are proud of their island, but their Japanese flag is not how they show that.
Moments of realization like this is why I travel. It grounds me and gives me the right tools to teach my daughter. It humbles me and allows me to see the full picture as I go about life.
Most of all, the worldly knowledge and friendships I gain make me a better ME.
Never. Stop. Exploring.