Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Specifically Hogen Fuda vs. Barazan Ropes

The other day I posted about the Taketomi Museum and spoke about Kaida Writing system, Barazan ropes, and Hogen Fuda Tags. After conferring with the my sources It appears that I had the facts a bit mixed up. Apparently hōgen-fuda: means "dialect tags" in English. (as a translation of "fuda") I confused the issue by making them seem like part of the Barazan ropes which they are not. They are actually pieces of wood a few inches in size that were able to be worn around the neck like a necklace.

Photo: National Museum treasures collectibles Hee (Taketomi-cho)

Barazan ropes on the other hand are ropes with knots tied in them at various positions to indicate quantities of people and things, and were used for centuries all throughout the Ryukyu islands. It's most probable that the barazan ropes influenced the simple numerical tallying system called 'sūchūma', which itself was a precursor of kaida writing. (The *word* sūchūma probably comes from Chinese 蘇州碼 'Sūzhōu numerals', though the forms are somewhat different.)

Barazan ropes used for keeping counts
So just to be clear The barazan ropes weren't put around anyone's necks and they were unrelated to the hōgen-fuda dialect tags. I've now fixed the post from earlier about the Taketomi Museum. I guess I need to stick to one subject at a time.

Thanks to my friend Mark Rosa (マーク・ローザ) on Taketomi Island for helping me to clear this up.


  1. Interesting stuff. I forget which other cultures (was it the South American cultures, Incas, something like that?) used knots in ropes for counting.

    But, of course, since (so far as I know, and I certainly could be wrong) Japan didn't have that tradition - did China or Korea? - it's just another item to add to the list of the interesting and intriguing ways that Okinawan culture is different from continental East Asian culture.

    Thanks much for the post... that 蘇州馬 connection is a particularly intriguing question.

  2. Toranosuke, you're thinking of Peru, where they indeed used quipu in just this same way. The people who kept the quipu were called quipu camayoc, and were also in charge of general history recording. Some people have claimed that the quipu held much more than just numerical records -- I wish I could read them!