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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

About Kajadifu Bushi - An Okinawan Classical Dance

Kajadifu Bushi is a dance that celebrates the prosperity of descedants. Kajadifu is an auspicious dance that is in the genre of rojin odori or elderly people's dances. It features an old couple and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This dance typically celebrates longevity, health, wealth, and an abundant harvest and is cousomarily performed as an opening performance at festive occassions. For this reason, it has been used for entertaining foreign ambassadors and dignitaries, and has been perpetuated throughout many Okinawan villages. It was frequently preformed in the king's court during the age of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The choreography incorporates all of the essential gestures employed in dances using fans. There are several variations of the dance but in it's standard version the dance is performed by and elderly man or couple, although it can be performed by several young people or a young couple for festive occassions.

There are several different interpretations of the meaning and background of the song Kajadifu Bushi.

In one version the story goes that during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom there was a price that was mute.  A high ranking clansman named Uaragusiku was upset by the fact that the prince was unable to speak until one day, when they found out the prince was being considered as the next successor to the King. The prince then demonstrated that he had just been pretending to be mute in order to see what was happening amongst his followers. When the clansmen Uaragusiku discovered the prince was not mute he expressed his joy in this verse.

In another version it is said that a blacksmith, or KANJAYA named Okuma, helped Prince Shoen when there was a crisis. After that, when Shoen inherited the kingdom, Okuma became a clansman. The blacksmith expressed his joy in this verse.

KIYU NU FUKURASHA YA     Today's joyous occasion,

NAWUNI JANA TATIRU          To what can we compare it?

TSIBUDI WURU HANANU       It's like a bud waiting to bloom,

TSIYU CHATA GUTU              Touched by the morning dew.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The O.G.'s Band Performing Live in Okinawa - Chibariyo!

This is a video of a band called the O.G.'s band. In the video thay are performing live Al's Place, in Okinawa Japan. I found this band by invitation in my Youtube inbox. I hadn't looked at it in some time and discovered this had been sent back in October of 2009. I am very impressed with this band and felt their music hold particular significance to the uchinanchu people. Therefore here they are on the Okinawaology Blog.

This video is of their first original song, 'CHIBARIYO' which roughly translated means 'hang in there', 'good luck', or 'do your best' in the Uchina Guchi the original Ryukyu dialect. I like the name of the band too and wonder if it's a play on words as three older men compose the band and Ojii in Japanese means old man.

The Lyrics for Chibariyo were written by Roy Helvenstine Jr..
The Music was composed by Roy Helvenstine Jr. & Don Paul Jankas

Let's hear back from everyone to let the band know what you think of them. Please visit their web site to hear more also I will place a link on my blog links soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Okinawa's Sub Tropical Rain Forests - Worth Protecting!

In a 1999 article titled, Okinawa's Rain Forests and Endangered Species Under Threat, Kenny Ehman, a reporter for the Japan Update wrote:

The northern forests of Okinawa, known locally as "Yambaru," contain some of the rarest species of plants, animals, and insects in the world. Subtropical rain forests also exist within Yambaru and play an important role in the watershed ecosystem. The most pristine areas of these rain forests are found within the Northern Training Area, which the United States military uses for jungle warfare training.

Since the return of Okinawa Prefecture to Japan in 1972, the environment of northern Okinawan has been gradually suffering from the effects of development and logging at the hands of the Japanese government, while much of the Northern Training Area has managed to remain in its natural state because of low-impact use by the United States military. These last remaining sections of old forest growth, located inside the 19,638 acres of the Northern Training Area, are now being threatened because of conditions set down by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa agreement, which calls for the return of the northern half of the Northern Training Area to Okinawa Prefecture.

At the time of the article they were investigating moving seven helicopter landing pads within the Northern Training Area. The proposed sites for the landing zones would have been located in some of the oldest subtropical rain forests on Okinawa. A joint research team of scientists from Okinawa and Hawaii conducted a biological survey within the Northern Training Area. Their study recorded a total of 1313 species within the newly proposed landing zones. The survey also concludes that out of the 66 known endemic species to Yambaru, 22 of these existed within the site. There were also 126 endangered species recorded in the proposed landing zone area, making it an especially important habitat for endangered wildlife. Some of the more well known species included the Pryor's Woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii ), Yambaru Kuina (Rallus okinawae ), and the Yambaru long-armed Scarab Beetle (Cheirotonus jambar ).

Pryors Woodpecker

Yambaru Kuina (Okinawa Rail)
Yambaru long-armed Scarab Beetle

Dr. Osamu Iwahashi of the University of the Ryukyus was one of the main researchers involved in the biological survey. He expressed concern that the proposed construction of the seven new helicopter landing pads, each 75 meters in diameter, together with the construction of access roads, would severely damage the environment. "The access roads would cause fragmentation within the rain forest ecosystem. There would also be an increase in soil erosion; many species in the watershed can not survive even under the slightest change in water quality," he explained. Iwahashi stated that because Okinawa Prefecture contains the only islands in the world where subtropical rain forests exist, the importance of protecting the area should be a priority. He also mentioned that if for no other reason, the number of endangered species found within the area alone would be more than enough reason to force a relocation of the proposed site for the new helicopter landing zones.

Environmentalists are also concerned over plans for logging and dam construction within the section of land scheduled for return to Okinawa. The area will fall under the control of the National Forestry Ministry and the Northern Dams Office. There are many pro-environment activists who fear that the forests will be cut and developed for tourism. Dr. Ken Kaneshiro Ph.D., a biologist from the University of Hawaii's Center for Conservation Research and Training who has been working together with Iwahashi, is also concerned over the possible loss of many endangered species and environmental damage to the Yambaru watershed. "Yambaru contains an important watershed for the entire island of Okinawa. If the rain forest eco-system is destroyed, there will be long-term impacts on the entire island," he said in reference to Okinawa's water supply. "There is a very high concentration of endangered species that are endemic to the area and are very important to the water-shed eco-system. The species living within the watershed eco-system form a community, so any impact would affect not just one species but the entire community."

Kaneshiro said that he would like to see the area under the control of the Japanese Environmental Protection Division, and he believes the creation of a national park with eco-tourism could be one economic alternative to development. "It needs to be protected," he stated. "It's very important to provide public access to the area for educational purposes, and to enable people to understand the importance of protecting it."
Back in 2008, in response to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, a United States Federal Court found the Department of Defense in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act for failing to consider the impact on endangered species. The department is now required to consider all impacts of a new U.S. airbase on the endangered Okinawa dugong, a cultural icon of Japan's Okinawan people. The decision set an important precedent in international environmental law. I believe that in the case of the northern training area landing zones they should use the decision to help block such construction. Okinawans need to make their Japanese representatives aware of their concern for the preservation of the area and work towards an eco friendly solution to the use of the land. There should be no excuse for allowing the extinction of a species from the planet. Okinawa's natural resources need protection.

The National Historic Preservation Act requires U.S. government agencies to consider effects on cultural and historic resources when carrying out activities abroad. Thus the Department of Defense must adhere to the law and take into consideration any harm that might occur to another nation's cultural resources. The endangered dugong, listed on Japan's register of protected cultural properties, is therefore entitled to protection. And the Department's failure to produce, gather, and consider information about effects of the new airbase on the species are a clear violation of the statute.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Endangered Species Alert - Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle

The Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle is a rare turtle that lives only in Okinawa. It is currently on the brink of extinction due to deforestation and attacks by animals that were introduced by humans.

The Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle

The Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle is only found on the main island of Okinawa, Kumejima, and Tokashiki Island. They are omnivorous turtles which means that they eat worms and insects as well as leaves.  They are a relatively small turtle whose shell only reachs a maximum of 15.6 cm or about 6 inches. 

Because Okinawa is an island seperated from other lands by many miles of ocean many species have developed there that exist no where else on earth. The Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle is just one example of the Phenomena. Today, many of the animals living exclusively in Okinawa are potentially in danger of extinction for basically the same reasons.

First, the forests necessary for these animals to survive are vanishing due to urbanization from population growth. Secondly, these rare animals are often attacked by mongoose and feral cats, which were introduced to the islands by people. The Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle also faces a problem in regards to the style of roadside ditches present in Okinawa. For many years the ditches have been made square and deep which presents a potentially fatal trap for reptiles like turtles, lizards, and frogs alike. Often, the Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle will fall into these ditches and die because they cannot escape. Researchers studying the decline of the Turtle however discovered the flaw in the ditches design and Currently efforts are now underway to rebuild these ditches with a gradual slope so that small animals can climb out and return to the forests.
Save the Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle!

(Source: Doubutsu Sekai-isan* Red Data Animals Kodansha) (*World Animal Heritage)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Development of Martial Arts in Okinawa

Uchinānchu have always been known as a peaceful people and have always considered their arts and music as more honorable than combat skills, This is not to say however that they will not defend their honour if need be. The evidenced is apparent in the revelation that, in feudal Japan, it was almost mandatory to show martial awareness by keeping a daishō (matched pair of large and small swords) in the tokonoma (living room alcove). Ryukyu people on the other hand always seemed to have a sanshin (3 stringed lute) in their tokonoma.

During the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines. The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese wu shu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced "Gōjūken" in Japanese). Further influence came from Southeast Asia, particularly Sumatra, Java, and Melaka. Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have also originated in and around Southeast Asia.

During the occupation by Japan in the mid-15th and 16th centuries, the Uchinanchu were completely disarmed of all bladed weapons by the Japanese who feared the Ryukyu people may revolt if given the means. The Ryukyu people however being the center of trade in asia at the time developed fighting techinques with the help of their Chinese trading partners. The techniques were a means of self-defense that sometimes used farm tools as weapons against armed opponents. They were a means of protection without raising suspicions of the Japanese and were developed due to the imposed weapons restriction. The styles were developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (手, literally meaning "hand") and some gong fu and other native techniques from China like kenpō. Karate is a striking art which incorporates punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chops). Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are also taught in some styles. Karate techniques vary slightly from town to town, and are normally named for the town where they originated, examples being Naha-te (currently known as Goju-Ryu), Tomari-te and Shuri-te.

In 1932 an era of escalating Japanese militarism prior to World War II, the name Karate was changed from 唐手 ("Chinese hand") to 空手 ("empty hand") which basically meant a spelling change as both of the spellings are pronounced karate. The Japanese did this to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form into a Japanese style without giving credit to its Chinese origins. After World War II, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among many of the servicemen stationed there. As a result Okinawan Karate Dojo's are found throughout the United States and other countries of the world.

Here are a few Videos of some Karate Friends of mine doing what they do best.

Goshin no Mai - Karate Kata Hidden in the Dance

Crawfordsville Karate Demonstration
Washington DC Karate Demonstration


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rebuttal to the Article: The War in the Pacific was not about Racism

Today’s post is about an article that I read that was published a few days ago on several different news web sites around the country. I personally found it on the Columbus Daily Dispatch site but discovered that it had been published on many sites around the country as well. The article was written by Victor Davis Hanson who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. The title of the article sparked my interest in reading the article but the content got my dander up. In the article Mr. Hanson States that racism had nothing to do with the war in the pacific. I beg to differ! Here is the article with my commentary inserted in blue. It amazes me sometimes how closed minded such learned people can be.

Taken from the Columbus Dispatch

The War in the Pacific was not about Racism
Friday, April 2, 2010

By Victor Davis Hanson

Sixty-five years ago, on April 1, 1945, the U.S. Marines, Army and Navy invaded Okinawa. The ensuing three months of combat resulted in the complete defeat and near destruction of imperial Japanese forces on the island just 340 miles from the mainland.

American forces wanted the island as a place to launch bombing attacks against the Japanese mainland.

The victory proved the most costly American campaign in the Pacific. Some 50,000 Americans were killed, missing or wounded. The incredible carnage would help persuade the American government to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in hopes of avoiding an even more horrific invasion of the mainland.

More than 100,000 civilians died as a result of the battle.

Okinawa and the war in the Pacific are back in the news these days with the airing of a 10-part HBO series, The Pacific, a companion story to the 2001 series Band of Brothers about the American advance from Normandy across the Rhine into Germany.

But recently in hyping The Pacific's upcoming airing, the actor Tom Hanks, co-producer of the fine new HBO series, made some unfortunate - and a historical - remarks.

"Back in World War II," Hanks said, "we viewed the Japanese as 'yellow, slant-eyed dogs' that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different."

Hanks' is right, he didn't say racism started the war. He said that we viewed the Japanese in a racist manner.

Yet the Pacific war was about far more than being "different."

Indeed, before and after the war, race was not a determining factor in American and Japanese relations. The two nations in World War I were partners against the Germans and Austrians. And during World War II itself, we joined Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and other Asians to stop Japanese aggression - often fueled by its own particular notion of Japanese racial superiority. In the aftermath of World War II, the Americans helped rebuild Japan, and once more were allied with it against the communist Soviet Union.

The racism in regards to the Okinawan people was in them being seen as second class citizens that were Japanese in the eyes of the US Government at the time. Their exploitation for their land and labor was a primary concern of the occupying forces.

And despite the deplorable internment of Japanese nationals and American citizens of Japanese descent during the war, racial difference still does not in itself account for the horror in the Pacific - or why we were there in the first place.

Once again Hanks' didn't say racism started the war.

We entered the war because of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which angered Americans even more than Adolf Hitler's aggression in Europe. Nazi barbarity for over two years had still not provoked the United States to enter the war, given that none of our own territory had been attacked.

Conditions on the battlefield in the Pacific most certainly account for the horror of the war there.

For starters, Japanese militarists had updated the old samurai code of Bushido and grafted it to a modern industrial military dictatorship, brainwashing millions into thinking individual surrender on the battlefield was tantamount to national disgrace. Italian and even fanatical German forces might give up when surrounded. In contrast, campaigns in the Pacific ended only when the vast majority of Japanese soldiers were killed or severely wounded

Logistics for the American force also were strained, given the vast distances across the Pacific. Tropical diseases were like nothing encountered in Europe. While most Americans had heard of Sicily, Italy and France most did not know what - much less where - a distant Guadalcanal, Peleliu or Iwo Jima was.

The invasion fleet off Normandy Beach did not have to worry about airborne Nazi suicide bombers - in the manner that Kamikaze attacks off Okinawa killed thousands of American seamen.

American tactical bombing, massive artillery barrages and armor thrusts were often less successful in the Pacific than in Europe, given the dense jungle, rough terrain and nature of island fighting.

In Okinawa however most of the vegetation was wiped from the earth by the heavy indiscriminant bombardment to the island from thousands of ships anchored off its shores.

The result was often that combat was reduced to hand-to-hand and small-arms fighting between U.S. Marines and crack Japanese imperial troops, hardened from brutal service of a prior decade in China.

Or that in the combat required shooting flamethrowers into caves full of civilians because the occupants could not be identified as friend or foe.

Given all these obstacles, it now seems incredible that an America that was half-armed in 1941 defeated Japan and utterly destroyed the idea of Japanese militarism in less than four years - a feat attributable in large part to the amazing courage and expertise of American soldiers.

It's a good thing we had those atomic bombs that we could drop on the military bases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as president Truman told the American people. After all we saved lives.

The war in the Pacific was not about racism or because Japanese "were different," much less because two nations had equally justifiable grievances against each other.

Instead, the brutal Pacific war was about ending an expansionary Japanese fascism that sought to destroy all democratic obstacles in its path. And we are indebted today to the relatively few Americans who stopped it in horrific places like Okinawa.

Okay, Mr. Hanson’s point is that the war was not driven by racism but rather that it came about as a result of an unprovoked attack on the United States. I will agree with this fact. I don't believe however that Hanks' comments were taken in context. He simply stated a fact that in the 40's america was racist. In the forties racism was prevalent throughout the United States whether speaking of Blacks, Asians, Italians, Irish, or a whole myriad of others. We hated each other at the time and American neighborhoods were segregated by ethnic background. Open minded people were hard to come by in those times and racist depictions helped people gel their hatred for the “Japs.” So, Racism did play a factor in the escalation of the war as it was used to build a hatred for a race of people that the American people were not familiar with at the time. Many films and cartoons were produced during the war portraying the Japanese in a manner that could be described as nothing less than racist. Here are some examples of what I am talking about.

I applaud Tom Hanks for being truthful in stating, "we viewed the Japanese as 'yellow, slant-eyed dogs' that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different." He spoke the truth because that is exactly what we did. While it is true the Japanese basically poked a hornet’s nest with a stick when the attacked the United States did it give us the right to eliminate anyone including civilian who got in the way of the mission? We pursued the Japanese back through the pacific eliminating them from the islands we past along the way as we moved towards the Japanese mainland. I find it difficult to believe that the United States at the time would have even considered the civilian population of the islands then occupied by the Japanese invaders. Civilians in the way often became casualties of war, because the American soldiers could not tell in many instances who was Japanese and who was an islander. Referred to as natives in many of the propaganda films I have seen the islanders were insignificant and expendable in the heat of battle on the battle front. In the end any Japanese person was also expendible if it meant victory. Men, women, and children, vaporized from the earth.

Racism effected the lives of many back then. Even African Americans who fought for their country in the pacific experienced the rasism of the times as many of them were lynched in the southern states simply for wearing their uniforms in public. Here is a example.

One of the saddest things in Okinawa in regards to the civilian population was that they were never considered the rightful owners of the island and remained second class citizens in the eyes of the Japanese and the Americans after the war. Sure the Americans helped to rebuild the island but they used the islanders as a labor force offering them jobs which they obviously took because of the need to survive. The exploitation of the Okinawan people continued until December of 1970 when the Okinawans had finally had it with discrimination and the normally obedient, mild mannered people rioted over the rules being imposed by the American occupation. This lead to talks which would change Okinawa forever as the US allowed Okinawa to revert back under Japanese control.

In Conclusion I would just like to say that yes, I believe racism was a factor during and after the war. Okinawa struggles even today with problems related to the military presence on the island and Japanese influence has been changing the feel of the islands. The Okinawans were an independent people and are now considered Japanese by default due to factors beyond their control. Please don't think that I do not believe things are getting better in regards to racism in Okinawa but because of assimilation Okinawa has lost her innocence. The Okinawan economy now has become dependent on tourism and the very military presence so many in Okinawa want to eliminate. Okinawans have realized the importance of preserving who they were prior to assimilation and have been sucessful in incorporating their heritage into the modern Okinawan lifestyle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Okinawa Wins National High School Baseball Championship

In Japan, high school baseball (高校野球: kōkō yakyū) generally refers to the 2 annual baseball tournaments played by high schools nationwide culminating at a final showdown at Hanshin Kōshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Japan. They are organized by the Japan High School Baseball Federation in association with Mainichi Shimbun for the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in the spring (also known as "Spring Kōshien") and Asahi Shimbun for the National High School Baseball Championship in the summer (also known as "Summer Kōshien").

These nationwide tournaments enjoy widespread popularity, arguably equal to or greater than professional baseball. Qualifying tournaments are often televised locally and each game of the final stage at Kōshien is televised nationally on NHK. The tournaments have become a national tradition, and large numbers of frenzied students and parents travel from hometowns to cheer for their local team. It is a common sight to see players walking off the field in tears after being eliminated from the tournament by a loss.

This year Okinawa Win's the Spring Tournament! Here is the story from the Mainichi Daily News

Baseball: Konan scores 5 in 12th to capture its 1st Koshien title

NISHINOMIYA (Kyodo) -- Okinawa's Konan scored five runs in the top of the 12th inning to beat Nichidai Daisan of Tokyo 10-5 in the final of the national high school invitational tournament on Saturday.

Yosuke Shimabukuro threw a complete game and doubled in two runs in the key inning to lead Konan to its first title in the spring invitational meet or the summer national championship at Koshien Stadium.

Konan broke a 5-5 tie in the 12th when Toshitake Yokoo's errant throw home on a grounder by Shun Agena plated runners from second and third.

Shimabukuro followed with the double and Tairiku Kuniyoshi capped the big inning with an RBI grounder.

Shimabukuro struck out 11 and gave up eight hits and five runs, two unearned, in a 198-pitch outing and contributed with four RBIs.

Kazuki Otsuka hit a solo homer to pull Nichidai Daisan within 5-4 before Takahiro Suzuki scored the tying run from third on a squeeze bunt by Ryoji Kobayashi in the sixth.

Konan's Moritsugu Ganeko and Nichidai Daisan's Sachiya Yamasaki had a hit apiece to both tie the meet record of 13 hits.

(Mainichi Japan) April 3, 2010

Maybe the date of April 3rd was lucky for the Okinawan Team as in the number play of Shi-sa associated with the date. Congradulations! Okinawa Konan! You have made Okinawa Proud!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Consider the Oceans of Okinawa Over Base Relocation

There has been great controversy over the closing of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma a United States Marine Corps base located in Ginowan City, on the island of Okinawa. It is home to approximately 4,000 Marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and has been a U.S. military airbase since the island was occupied following the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Marine Corps pilots and aircrew are assigned to the base for training and providing air support to other land-based Marines in Okinawa. Originally the land it occupies belonged to Okinawans before the US invaded to route out the Japanese from the island. After the war the military took the lands they needed as the spoils of war to build the bases they could use to strike the Japanese mainland. The US Military saw great potential in building bases on the island after the war because it provided a central point to conduct operations from in the pacific. Many islanders are paid money for the land that belonged to their families prior to the bases being built on it. This creates conflicts of politics on the island because there are those who don't mind getting a check from the government. But the time has come to say enough is enough.

Being a former US Airman I can see the strategic importance of maintaining bases in the region but feel that the problem is that there has been tremendous population growth and the island is pretty much at capacity as it is. Okinawa is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I scuba dived it's waters for many of the years that I lived there. It makes me sad to think that the United States does not have enough respect for the Okinawan people to respect their wishes. They seem to forget that Okinawa was conquered by the Japanese and when the Japanese were ousted from the island after the war the Americans did not see the Okinawans as the rightful owners of the land. When the Okinawans protested in the seventies after decades of being treated as second class citizens it took a riot to start the change in government back to Japanese from American control. Basically the Japanese were defeated but were given the rightful property of the Okinawan people. When I watch old film from WWII produced by the US Military they refer to the Okinawan people as natives. Evidently they knew they were the rightful owners of the land but didn't care because they gave it back to Japan. It doesn't make any sense to me.

When I first moved to Okinawa I was a young man of 18 and did not really understand the place that I had been sent. I saw hundreds of dump trucks everyday back then that were busy hauling earth from the north to locations all around the island. I later figured it out that they were filling in the reefs to create additional land for urban development. Military bases had plenty of spaces on them with wide open fields and space everywhere, which was in contrast to the close quartered conditions the civilian community lived in. I remember they were taking down a mountain on the motobu peninsula to get the materials to fill in the ocean. It was unbelievable the amount of land that was created by this process. Beautiful ocean that is now lost forever. Now they want to relocate the marine base by filling in the ocean. I would just like to express that I believe this is the wrong thing to do. The earth is a precious resource and shouldn't be frivolously destroyed to create space for concrete. Marine operations on Okinawa should be scaled back and relocated in multiple other locations around the pacific. I'm not saying that all military presence should be taken from Okinawa because the military does have a positive effect on the economy of Okinawa. I believe that they should condense the bases more though to allow more land to be given back to the Okinawan people. Kadena could possibly be one choice for part of the marine air wing, a choice that would not harm the marine environment any more than it already has been. Okinawans are not second class citizens they are the rightful owners of the Ryukyu Islands and should be given the respect they deserve.

Here is some information I obtained via the internet for those of you who may not know about the base relocation on Okinawa. It is followed by a film about the relocation. More info may be obtained by visiting the web site .

In December 1996, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided that the Futenma base should be relocated to an off-shore location in Henoko Bay in Nago, northern Okinawa. This was and remains a controversial decision, since the projected site involved construction on a coral reef and seagrass beds which are the habitat of the dugong, an endangered marine mammal protected under Japanese and U.S. law. In a referendum conducted later the same year, a vast majority (over 80%) of Nago residents voted against the Henoko plan. However, shortly afterward, they elected a mayor who campaigned on a platform of accepting the new facility. In March, 2006, a new mayor was elected on a similar platform, getting more votes than his two anti-relocation opponents combined. But opinion still remained divided between those who view the 'relocation' plan as a recipe for development in the northern part of the island, and others who consider it more likely to lead to the destruction of what remains of Okinawa's sub-tropical forests and undegraded coastal reefs.

On 26 October 2005, the governments of the United States and Japan agreed to move the relocation site for Futenma from the reef area off Henoko to the interior and coastal portions of the existing Marine infantry base at Camp Schwab, just a few hundred meters away from the offshore facility. The cited reason for the change is to reduce the engineering challenge associated with building a runway on reefs in deep water: experts estimate that rather than the 15-plus years required to construct a new airbase at the previous reef location, the new Camp Schwab plan will enable Futenma to be relocated within 6–8 years. These plans were also accelerated when a CH-53D Sea Stallion transport helicopter attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit lost tail rotor authority and spiraled into a local college building.

Reaction to the new plan for Futenma's relocation has been widespread in Okinawa. The local media, who are mainly opposed to relocations of military bases, claim the relocation is an unreasonable increase in burden of hosting bases. However, the newly-elected mayor of Nago (which hosts Camp Schwab) formally agreed to accept the relocation when he signed an agreement with Defense Minister Nukaga on 8 April 2006. Mayor Shimabukuro was later joined by all five of the major mayors of northern Okinawa. Although some all-Okinawa public opinion polls indicate that many Okinawans have reservations about the latest plan, residents of northern Okinawa have recently elected and re-elected leaders who have publicly accepted it. In fact, all 12 mayors of northern Okinawa have publicly accepted the new relocation plan. In this respect, the Futenma issue exposes a range of conflicting opinions among Okinawans: from those who maintain that military facilities and associated public works infrastructure benefit the island's economy; environmentalists, and those who either object or are critical to the U.S. military presence on ideological grounds or on rooted sentiments. Inamine Susumu (稲嶺進) the new mayor of Nago city as of January 24, 2010 is currently skeptical about the relocation plan and agrees to move Futenma outside of Okinawa.

Friday, April 2, 2010

There is no way that daily entries are going to work!

So in the beginning it sounded like a pretty good idea to set up a sort of schedule and post specific topics on specific days. The reality of the task however has now sunk in so the list of daily topics has now been removed. I will now be posting as subject material comes to me and I'm not going to stress over trying to produce content on a daily basis. After all it's not the Okinawan way to stress over things that will eventually come to fruition.

The blog has become a great way of getting out information about Okinawa to the people of the world. Many people have contacted me as a result of my efforts. Yesterday as a matter of fact I was contacted by a fellow named John Potter who asked if I could mention his website and blog in my posts. I went to the link that John provided and was extremely impressed with his credentials.

Here is his profile from his website. 
John Potter is from Norwich, England but has lived in Japan since 1984, first in Kobe and then in Mie Prefecture where he was professor at Kogakkan University. He contributes music features to magazines in Japan and the UK, and has also published articles on literature and education as well as a book on Summerhill School.

He first listened to Okinawan music in the late 1980s and this discovery led to an interest in the islands’ music and to roots music worldwide. He began making regular trips to the Ryukyu Islands and travelled extensively in Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama, listening to and meeting many of the musicians there. He accompanied Shoukichi Kina and his band on a visit to England, and has also collaborated on song translations for the singer Yasukatsu Oshima and for the Japanese band Soul Flower Union.

In 2009 the lure of island music finally proved too much and he took early retirement from his university in order to move to Okinawa. When not listening to music he enjoys reading novels, watching films and football, and walking on the beach. John is married to Midori and they have a son, Akira.

Upon investigating John's web site I was quite impressed with what I found there. I would highly recommend that you visit John's website by clicking on the link that I have provided on the upper right hand side of this page in the lnks box. John's site is called The Power of Okinawa roots music from the Ryukyus. It appears from my visit that John knows quite a few okinawan musicians and writes some outstanding articles about his experiences around the Okinawan Music Scene.

Keep up the good work John! I hope we can meet sometime when I'm in Okinawa!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DVD is Now Available of the 44th Annual Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai New Years Performance

Hello everyone. Today I am glad to announce that the DVD is finished and ready for anyone who would like to purchase a copy. The show is approximately 2 hours in length and is a presentation of the 44th annual Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai's New Years Show. It includes Okinawan Dance Taiko Karate and showcases the talents of our Kenjinkai members. The cost of the DVD is $10 plus $2.00 shipping and handling. If you can pick up your copy at mitsuwa then it is just the $10.

If you would like a copy please contact me via email at and provide your:

Shipping Address
Number of copies you would like

Paypal payments are acceptable using my email address above as the account or you can pay cash if you pick up your copy at Mitsuwa on Saturdays. Payments can also be mailed to me. I will provide an address for mailed payment if requested in your email.

Depending on the number of copies sold a portion of the money made from this DVD will be donated to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai performance group.