martedì 13 giugno 2017


Once upon a nice time, not long time ago, a beautiful, small and wild island by Naha’s airport. Senaga-jima – its name – was a holy place, in different ways. For some people it was an ancestors place, to be respected in harmony with nature. It was holy for the large stray cats community living there, far from the wheels of the city and somehow safe in the local forest. It was a holy place for the many clandestine couples that could have some romantic, boom-boom privacy by the road parallel to the airport landing field, especially after dusk (that road used to be pointed, here and there, by some liquid love contained in abandoned condoms). Senaga, for sure, was a holy place for me. Over there me and my dearest friends for some years held great birthday parties, yummy barbecues (once we even stole, with a certain success, some lamb to some bitchy ladies), sweaty frescobol - Brazilian beach tennis – games (in Senaga I even founded the F.A.O., Frescobol Addicts Okinawa, unsuccessfully trying to develop and promote this beautiful sport in Okinawa; but in Okinawa it’s too hot and people are too busy to make it grow). 

I loved the place so much to organize for at least two years some beach clean-ups (unsuccessfully, in Okinawa it’s too hot and people are too busy to make them grow). Local people, after boom-booming, or just after watching the sunset, loved to drop on the send not just liquid love but also beer (if only Okinawa had real beer) cans, wheels, ice-cream wrappings, lighters, bento containers, used diapers and, why not, whole bags filled with garbage. Sometimes, while we were picking up their nastiness, local people clapped their hands to us, as a gesture of approval (gaijin do strange things, you know), avoiding carefully to use the same hands to help and pick up their shit.

The beach, since ever, was a family, free place. Open to everybody, day and night, for huge picnics, families holidays blessed by hectolitres of beer, awamori and other happy things. Somebody played the sanshin, somebody brought a radio to hear other kinds of music. No-bo-dy would dare to come and bother you for such freedom. No guards, no life-guards, no stupid buoys to limit the swimming space. The sea water was not the cleanest of this planet, but still it was very nice to float into it.



ONE tree left: a designated survivor?

Then… one day the future… started. The huge hotel that dominates the island, famous for its onsen, gave birth to a wonderful project. And I began smelling the end. They sent some architect to Europe to study famous places as (if I remember well) Amalfi, Santorini, Cap d’Antibes. They came back to Okinawa with a vague, chanpūru-style project. A village for tourists that wanted to remind vaguely the architecture, the atmosphere and, above all, the money of those famous European tourism traps. Over a fourth of the island trees fell under the Caterpillars, and – I guess – many cats had to find another planet where to live. The Umikaji Terrace was born, with his white, cool, walls. Many new cute shops found a new business chance there. Initially I thought the village wouldn’t have a great success, but… time showed me that I was wrong. What once was a beautiful horizon line where to enjoy the natural show of sunset, soon became a work-in-progress line. The construction of the new, loooong landing field for the airport (more and bigger airplanes, more Chinese well educated tourist, much more $) became the new horizon. People continued protesting for the destruction of the marine environment in Henoko’s Bay – to make space for a bigger American military base -, but as far as I know no one said a word about the destruction of the marine environment in Senaga.

Yesterday, a very sad day for me, I visited Senaga after months I hadn’t been there. Shock is a light word to describe my feelings. The public beach is gone, surrounded by fences and signs that remind you that now is only a cool place for lounge lovers. Lounge lovers that, for an adequate amount, can sleep in cool trailers by the cool barbecues. Do you have the dream to bring your own barbecue here? Your barbecue is not cool, so… The beach is literally, physically gone. The enlargement of the airport drained the sea, blocking the tide. Before you could swim, now you can walk into mud for half kilometer before touching the sea. No more picnics, no more frescobol, maybe also no more stray garbage and no more car-boom-booms. Certainly no more stray cats. At the moment was was left of the natural island is been taking care by another kind of CAT, more with the face of a Caterpillar. I wonder how many months it’ll take before the very last tree will be gone. What used to be a nice lawn by the baseball field became a concrete parking lot.


Sometimes we used to go to Senaga also to collect some coins to help the local community of stray cats. We supported several TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) sterilization projects in the island, with the precious help of one friend and with the support of three shops that hosted our donation boxes. Now that the shining future has arrived in $enaga – no more nature, no more cats -, we decided to retire our boxes and to put them somewhere else. Somewhere else where money is not considered the main target of life.

THANKS a lot to all the nice people the helped the poor cats until today, and THANKS a lot to all the friends that filled up my Senaga-memories with very happy moments. To the others (the ‘developer$’) I can just say: may your karma give you a stray cat life along the Route 58th, the next time you’ll visit this poor, sad planet.

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