It’s that time of the year when many servicemembers and their families pack up their household goods and prepare to move.

Whether you’re new to Okinawa or leaving to go back to the States, there are two books no bookshelf or coffee table should be without.

Marine Corps Community Services has published a hefty 324-page tome, “The Best of Okinawa Living,” providing breathtaking photos and articles from its award-winning monthly magazine, and the slimmer “The Spirit of Okinawa,” a 160-page photo essay by photographer Shokyu Otsuka.

Both books are available at any Army and Air Force Exchange Service Bookmark locations on Okinawa.

Whether it is information on the history of Okinawa, highly trafficked or little- known historical sites and beaches, tips on the language and culture, or just gorgeous photos of the island and its friendly people at work and play, “The Best of Okinawa Living” is a “must-have.”

The book is divided into topical sections for easy referencing. The “Brief History of Okinawa” section introduces the reader to Okinawa’s gusukus, or castles, and museums and gives a close look at the island prefecture’s religious heritage — a mixture of Shintoism, Buddhism and the ancient ancestor worship carried over from when Okinawa was the independent Kingdom of the Ryukyus.

The “Places” chapter guides the reader along pictorial tours of the northern, central and southern parts of the main island and provides a glimpse of the outer islands in the Ryukyu chain.

Other chapters cover Okinawa’s unique pottery, lacquerware and glassmaking and celebrations and festivals like the dragon boat races, the world’s biggest tug-of-war and the island’s unique bull-on-bull fights.

A chapter on food and drink covers Okinawan soba and goya, a bitter melon, as well as Japanese cuisine. It includes information on Orion, Okinawa’s most popular local beer, and a tour through its brewery in Nago.

Finally, the book covers the people of Okinawa, considered a unique culture from their mainland Japan countrymen, with centuries of intermingling with the peoples of China and South Asia from when the Ryukyu Kingdom was a seafaring nation.

The perfect companion to “The Best of Okinawa Living” is “The Spirit of Okinawa,” a collection of more than 35 years of capturing the Okinawa way of life.

“Okinawa’s characteristics — sun so strong that it hurts the skin, an ocean filled with colorful coral, huge cumulus clouds so surreal they look as if they are from outer space, and the look of the streets around U.S. military bases — made it feel like a different country,” writes Otsuka, who came to the island from Osaka in 1972.

“For me, bursting with curiosity, all these things to see and hear created a new and extraordinary world,” he writes.

He was especially taken with the people of Okinawa.

“The warmth of human nature, which is sometimes forgotten with modernity, can be found here in Okinawa,” he writes.

Otsuka’s photos are sure to make newcomers excited about their new home and make those leaving wonder why they were saying goodbye.

“The Best of Okinawa Living” is priced at $34.95. “The Spirit of Okinawa” is sold for $28.

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