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Sunday, September 1, 2013

O-File Mystery #001 – Okinawans, the Deigo, and Typhoons

A Deigo Tree in full bloom (April 2012)

Okinawans, the Deigo, and Typhoons...

About a year and half ago, I had this conversation with an Okinawan woman about the Deigo Tree. She had said something that had stuck in the back of my mind for quite some time now and with recent events, got me thinking more and more about it. After she had told me, I heard it again and again from other Okinawans. Was there something to what she had said?

What the woman had told me was that when the Deigo Trees have a strong flower blooming season it means that Okinawa is going to have a very strong typhoon season that same year. Keep in mind I was told about this before the 2012 Typhoon season had even kicked off. I just made a mental note of what she said and went on my way.

Fast forward to 2012.

I spotted my first Deigo Tree in bloom in April of 2012. It wasn't just in bloom, it was in BLOOM. I have never seen anything like it before. The whole tree looked like it was on fire with beautiful dark, red flowers. Not a single green leaf I could recall. The entire tree was dressed in red. This was the same tree that had documented on Map It! Okinawa in Ogimi Village. The photo above was taken about a month before the start of Typhoon Season (typically declared as June 1st).

Now typhoons are not uncommon in Okinawa. In fact, it's expected during the season. And for those who can recall, 2012 brought us some very, very strong typhoons particularly Typhoons Bolavan, Sanba, and Jelawat. Jelwat perhaps had the most bragging rights. See a glimpse of Jelawat's destructive power on this amateur video footage on YouTube linked by the BBC ( .

Was this coincidence? Or was there a connection – strong Deigo season in 2012 and now a strong typhoon season that same year? It made me kind of wonder at the time. I just made another mental note of it.

Fast forward to 2013.

From March to May I hoped to get another picture of that beautiful Deigo Tree in Ogimi. Several times I passed by there...but nothing. No flowers that I could recall. Just green leaves. Hmmm...that was strange. In fact, I didn't see any Deigo's in bloom anywhere (maybe there were some, but none that I could find).

It is now September 1st here in Okinawa. Typhoon season is not over....far from it. 30 November is supposedly the end of typhoon season here on Okinawa. But where have the typhoons been? As far as the main island of Okinawa, we have not had one to raise an eyebrow at. Just tropical depressions. Other areas in the Pacific may have had some, but zilch here on Okinawa.

So here we had no Deigo's in bloom and as of yet a very, very dismal typhoon season. Jelawat, last year, made landfall in late September, so time will tell, and we still have a few months before typhoon season is over.

But just what if there is a connection? More than a handful of Okinawans have told me this same story, which meant that story had to have been around for awhile, which also means that for many years this trend had to have been observed for this story to take root.

Now, I don't think they believe that no Deigo flowers mean no typhoons or vice versa, it was just that a strong blooming season was indicative of a strong typhoon season (and of course that would mean that a very poor blooming season, meant a very poor or mild typhoon season as well).

I'm no scientist, but if there is a connection then it may say something of earth's cycle that coincides with both the blooming Deigo and typhoon season – a certain heighten activity that happens during that period that makes the Deigo tree bloom more and one that increases the frequency of typhoons. And if indeed there is a connection it would suggest that the Deigo tree is sensitive enough to feel whatever this heighten activity is. I don't know. It's just interesting. Maybe there is no connection. But when you hear the story enough times, it does make you wonder...."what if?"

We still still have 3 months before typhoon season ends. Knock-on-Wood.

This is O-File Mystery #001.

Related Articles. Map It! Okinawa, Beautiful Deigo Tree in Ogimi.

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