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, September 1, 2010

Remember When?

I have seen many photos of Okinawa but have found that the older pictures of life in the Ryukyu islands are not so easy to come by. Recently I received a correspondence from a fellow who has apparently been working very hard gathering pictures from back in the day. His name is Donn Cuson and his web site is called Remembering Okinawa. If you go there you will find a wonderful collection of old pictures of a simplier time in Okinawa. His photo's cover the time between 1945 to 1972. He has some other things also like old post cards and a couple of movies. I believe its worth a few minutes of your time to check them out but be warned once you start looking you may be there for a while remembering Okinawa.


  1. Thank you for posting these videos and the link to Remembering Okinawa. It's quite interesting which Okinawa people remember, and want to remember.

    It had never occurred to me before, but of course it makes sense that songs like "Road to Naminoue" should exist. Googling the song title, I found lots of message boards and such with current or former servicemen talking about which bases they were at, and their memories of being stationed in Okinawa, either pre- or post-reversion...

    I have seen many photo books of pre-war Okinawa, of Okinawa devastated by the war, and of Okinawa under Occupation or during reversion, but these videos (especially the first one, the Teahouse) do indeed show another side of it. A different Okinawa.

    In my research, I focus on Okinawa pre-annexation (that is, pre-1879), when the Ryukyu Kingdom was still intact and semi-independent. A different Okinawa still, and one which no one remembers today, and which few, I feel (though what do I know?), really look back to as anything more than a very vague, distant past.

    Anyway, my point is simply that I find it interesting that when one talks about "remembering Okinawa," former servicemen mean something very different than Okinawans would. They're remembering different things, very different experiences, very different perspectives. Both nostalgic, both romanticized, but nostalgic for different things, as if there really are (were) two Okinawas, or 1.3 million plus Okinawas, each in the memory of someone different.

    This Teahouse in particular intrigues me. Is there an authenticity and genuineness to it, like there is with geisha houses today in Kyoto, or was it more self-Orientalizing and putting on a show for foreigners? Were the women there some Okinawan equivalent of true geisha, trained from a very young age, with the traditional arts and such instilled in them throughout their life, or were they more or less normal girls, waitresses, who came in from town and threw on bingata robes and played geesha girl (or hanagasa girl, I guess) for the clients?

    Was the novel (and the play and the film based on it) named after this Teahouse? Or the other way around?

    I had heard of the film as a classic example of Orientalist filmmaking, very much indicative of American conceptions of, or attitudes towards, the Japanese in the early postwar, but I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet, and never suspected there was an actual teahouse by that name... This adds another interesting dimension to the whole thing.

    Thanks again for sharing all of this.

  2. Hi Tom,
    I love that video 'the road to Naminoue'. When I was in Okinawa I used to take an afternoon nap by the sea underneath the temple. Not the bit with the man-made beach, but the quiet side where there's just a few guys fishing.
    The video and the music bring a tear to the eye.

  3. The film is difinitely from the American perspective. After all Marlon Brando plays the main okinawan character Sakini in the film. I've never met anyone named Sakini in Okinawa or Japan so I don't even know if it is a real name. Okinawans are refered to as natives and the teahouse is really a geisha house. There are alot of stereotypes in the film from the era it was produced. (1956) I will post soon about the movie.