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, June 29, 2010

Japan Day 2010 -Midwest Shotokan Karate

Well this past weekend was the Mid-America Japanese Club's annual Japan Day event in Arlington Heights Illinois. I worked the booth for the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai performing in my capacity of Minkan Taishi. Ikuko Nichols and I displayed traditional Okinawan Folkcrafts and the Kenjinkai exhibited and sold Okinawan foods such as Andagi and Beni-imo. The day was not entirely work however and I was able to catch an impressive performance by the Midwest Shotokan Dojo. Shotokan is Okinawan Karate and the members performing were quite talented. Here are some videos I took of their performance. I am placing a link to their Dojo on my favorite links. Check them out if you are interested in learning Okinawan Karate in the Chicago area.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ken Hirata Memorial 1931 - 2010

Today I was searching the web and found a memorial to Kenji Hirata who was a former president of the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. The memorial was produced by his family members and is a truely wonderful tribute to the man. I felt compelled to share it with everyone here on the blog and would like to express everyones gratitude to his family for everything he did for the Kenjinkai in his lifetime. He will be missed.

In Memoriam: Kenji Hirata (11.05.1931 - 04.19.2010) from Keith Takeshi Hirata on Vimeo.

Here are the words I found with the video written by his son Keith Hirata.

This is a collection of photographs I collected and assembled to honor the life of my father, Kenji Hirata.

He was born to Okinawan plantation workers in Hawai'i and lived his formative years there and in Okinawa during the turbulence of WWII. In his late teens, he led the way for his parents and his sisters to move to Chicago where they tenaciously carved out a life for themselves. He was a simple, hard-working man who sacrificially loved his family.
In his last season of life, he lived with the devastating effects of a ruptured brain aneurysm for nearly 12 years, but even in this, his spirit of joy was indomitable. Thank you Dad for living your life so well! You're truly free now.

Karate - The way of the open hand

Yesterday I wrote about a karate even that will be taking place in Kenosha Wisconsin. Karate is something that has interested me for some time but its something that I haven't really gotten involved with. I know several people who practice it however and they amaze me with their abilities. I would describe karate as a "discipline." From my outside viewpoint it seems karate gives the person an ability to kick some a** but the resolve not to unless absolutely necessary to defend themselves or others.

There is a great history behind the art of karate which was developed in Okinawa when the Japanese under Satsuma decreed that the Ryukyu people were not allowed to carry weapons. This was during the time of the Japanese samarai so not being able to defend oneself was of great concern to the people in the Ryukyu islands. King Sho Hashi disarmed his people to prevent a war with the Japanese but secretly began training his warriors techniques learned through trade with China. The Ryukyu people took the knoledge of Gung fu and developed it into a style of open handed self defense and incorporated every day implements into the art as weaponry.  Many of the odori dances in those days had elements of karate kata mixed into them as a way to secretly practice the art without being accused of plotting to attack the Japanese.

Here are four ten minute videos I discovered that are old but give a great history of the art of Okinawan Karate as well as the process of mastering its techniques. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 Yin Yang Do Karate Association Founders Day Event - Kenosha WI

It always amazes me how no matter where you go on the earth you can always find people studying and practicing Okinawan Karate. Here in my home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin, there will soon be a sort of Karate conference on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. My friend Pat Weyand has sent out an invitation that I would like to share with any Karate people out there that may be able to make this July 10th event. I'll be there of course filming the whole thing for a film I will post at a later date. Here is the information about the event.
You are invited to the Yin Yang Do Karate Associations Annual Founder's Day. This event has been scheduled on since January 2010 and is the official event of the Association.

The location this year is in Kenosha, WI. All Karateka are welcome and encouraged to participate in sharing the knowledge of our art and to meet others with the same interests.

Workout begins promptly at 1PM. Picnic lunch to follow training.

Kemper Center holds a special place in our hearts as this is where Reverend Foster conducted many of his classes. There is a great energy in the air and Lake Michigan makes a beautiful backdrop. The fee is $15 for participants above 12 years of age and $5.00 for those under 12. Please come celebrate the gift that Shihan Foster has given to us.

2010 topics include: Special Guest Shorin Ryu UZA Sensei from the Okniawan Cultural Society, Tai Chi ( Beiging 24 Form) with Al Gomez , Judo/ Jujutsu techniques with Don Jambreck, Patrick Weyand. In addition, we will kick-off the celebration with traditional dance and music from representatives from the Chicago Okinawan Kenjinkai.

We look forward to seeing all of you! For more information, please visit

Location: Kemper Center

6501 3rd Ave
Kenosha, WI 53143 US
When: Saturday, July 10, 12:00PM
Phone: 262-939-9955

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Japanese Prime Minister Resigns Over Failed Campaign Promises

Wow, After failing to keep his campaign pledge to the Okinawan people the Japanese prime minister resigns. Here is a 24 minute video on this disappointment discussing the events leading to the resignation.

Interesting thing about this resignation is that the new Prime Minister former Finance Minister Naoto Kan made a rare visit to Remember America’s war dead (an event that largely passed under the radar of most news watchers). Kan visited Arlington cemetery outside Washington in April and offered flowers at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Normally Japanese prime ministers or defense ministers are the ones to offer flowers at Arlington when they visit the United States. It is rare for someone in Kan’s position to do so. It kind of makes you wonder about the Alliance between the United States and Japan and how much influence the United States actually excercizes over the Japanese Government. Maybe those who support the Americans will remain in power and those who do not will be replaced by those who do. I wonder if Kan knew this during his visit. Here are his comments from the visit:

Kan said people who created and protected the United States are buried at the cemetery, and that he came to pay his respects to the deceased. He described the visit as a memorable one. In recent years, Prime Ministers Abe and Aso made similar visits to Arlington. Hmmmmmm?

Okinawa Memorial Day – Irei no Hi

With Memorial Day recently passing in the United States for its War Dead I thought it appropriate to post something on Okinawa's Irei no Hi, Okinawan Memorial Day. A Day where Okinawan's remember the people who died during the battle of Okinawa.

This year is the the 65th anniversary of the the battle. The anniversary of the end of the battle is marked every year in Okinawa with a ceremonial day called Irei no Hi (慰霊の日), a day of prayer for the 200,000+ people who died during the battle.

Here’s a report (in Japanese) from TBS that was posted about the event on the 63rd anniversary. It shows the survivors gathering to pray and their desire that future generations know that war is terrible and should be avoided:

Uploaded by newsnihon. - Explore international webcam videos.

Okinawa, whose main island lies around 1,500 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, was the only inhabited part of Japan where ground fighting took place during World War II.

Ceremony participants offered a one-minute silent prayers and floral tributes at the peace park. Fukuda delivered a speech and said he “will make best efforts to realize an affluent livelihood for the Okinawa people” and “reduce their burden while listening to voices of their long-felt need.”

Gov. Nakaima read out an annual peace message offering condolences to the victims of the battle and renewing a pledge not to wage a war ever again.

During the ceremony, a 10-year-old primary school boy read a poem appealing for peace in the world.

“I wish happiness for all the people. So, I’d like to look at the world closely. I’d like to listen to the voices of the world. With gentle hands and with a warm mind,”

Eisuke Kano, a fourth-grader at Yomitan Elementary School.

Isn't it amazing how a pure mind can think!