Stores without Owners

Sharing the yuimaru spirit, the white box is the cash register.

While driving around remote areas of the Okinawa main island or visiting the off-islands, one may come across small stands displaying agricultural produce and other items with the vendor absent. These are self-service stores and they have a special place in Okinawan culture. Fresh vegetables, flowers, and sometimes small fancy goods are made available at these stands, and if the prices are not listed, you pay what you can afford. The owners of these small outlets want to share their extra produce with people who may be needy. As they do not expect to make profits from sales, people out for a drive and visitors are able to get fresh, local products at cheap prices.

Before the war, there had been many such stores on Okinawa without the owners present, at least one in each community. They were examples of Okinawa's unique Yuimaru spirit, which might be described as warmhearted cooperation to help one another. Because the small isolated islands suffered through several typhoons and sometimes impoverished soil conditions, there was great hardship for the islanders. From those times people had to rely on each other for survival, and this spirit of cooperation still remains in community activities. The continued existence of these small stores without owners is a reminder and symbol of a peaceful Okinawa



half a world away, as I pass thru rural areas of the Northeast US - I see the honor system (aka 'trust system') is still alive: self-serve, 'suggested donation', pay-what-you-can, drop-box farm stands.

Now think of a 'dojo/gym without owner' concept....