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.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We will begin with an introduction to Ryukyuan Dance to start our Okinawan Arts Wednesday Topic

The seas surrounding the Ryukyu Islands are renouned for their wonderous beauty. The aquamarine colors are tremendous under the tropical suns rays. The seas have always exerted an influence on the life and culture of Okinawa. One might site the concept of Narai-Kanai, which plays an important part in native Okinawan religious belief and is concieved as an idealized realm over the seas, as the abode of the gods. The people have traditionally believed that happiness and prosperity assured by a plentiful harvest are brought from Narai-Kanai. The spirit of prayer is expressed in stylized gesture, while prayer itself becomes manifested in song, thereby opening the way to development of the performing arts. To the backdrop of the islands' history, song and dance have continued through to the present time, serving as vehiclesfor expression of the thoughts and emotions of the Okinawan People.
Several centuries ago the Ryukyu Kingdom attained a measure of wealth and prosperity as the agent of entrepot trade between China, Southeast Asia, and Japan. In the process if absorbed cultural influences from these nations and an aristocratic A Ryukyuan court culture took root in which the distinctively Okinawan aesthetics and sensibilities emerged to take their place alongside the great cultures of the world. The traditional performing arts epitomizes this Ryukyuan culture.

Through the next few weeks I will be placing information on Wednesdays pertaining to the music and dances associated with Ryukyu Dance which is conventionally classified into four major genres whose stylistic features are products of the different socio-historical conditions.

First there is the genre of Classical Dance, which is sometimes reffered to as court dance. This film is an example of Classical Ryukyuan Dance.
Second there is the genre of zo odori or popular dance which emerged after the establishment of Okinawa prefecture in the late 19th century. In contrast to the aristocratic orgins of classical dance, this genre is rooted in the daily lives of the common people, whose feelings and attitudes are expressed.
Third, we have the genre of modern dance which refers to the post war dances created after the World War II.

Lastly, we have the genre of folk dance which reffers to the styles of dance which have been pasted down through the ages. These dances are usually associated with rituals and festivities of the local communities throughout the Ryukyu Islands.

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