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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.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Okinawan Uta - The Shaman Women of Okinawa

Women were at the pinnacle of spiritual life in the Ryukyu Kingdom, today's Okinawa. Kings once isolated noro priestesses. They were prized as top advisors because people believed they could communicate with the gods. That tradition lives on with the Yuta. These modern-day seers dole out personal advice to ordinary people - for a fee!


Local Okinawan religion is presided over by women and incorporates elements of shamanism and animism. Okinawa is the home of noseless yuta shaman. The defect is interpreted as a kind of stigmata. Shamanism is based on animistic folk religions. In the case of itako, they believe in a number of gods from various different beliefs, such as animism, Buddhism and Shinto. Rather than simply mixing these beliefs, they superimpose later religions on top of existing ones, enabling long-running beliefs and gods to maintain strong identities.

During an initiation ceremony, each itako will come into contact with the gods that will possess them. They will also learn which god is most powerful in a variety of different circumstances.

The difference between priests and shamans lies in the fact that shamans go into a trance while priests simply ask the gods for mercy. Priests often come from privileged backgrounds while shamans are generally lower-class people or social outcasts.

Before Buddhism and Confucianism entered Japan, various emperors made use of the services of shamans. But as doctrinal religions were introduced, animism became vilified as the superstition and heresy of primitive culture. A similar trend can be seen in most civilizations around the world, in which folk religions are eliminated by institutional religions such as Buddhism, Christianity or Islam.

Eventually, the religious rituals once performed by female shamans in Japan in ancient times were taken over by men of later, more sophisticated religions.

Shamanism can help make up for weaknesses of modern culture by providing relief for people in extreme suffering and pain, making fuller use of people's daily lives and keeping society and culture intact. Shamanism fills some of the spaces left open by modern rationalism and science.

This video above was originally shown on the Washington Post web video site. I have placed it here to inform others about Okinawa by means of internet mining videos pertaining to the people and culture of the island of Okinawa. I would like to thank the creators of this video and have included the name of the reporters at the end of the video.

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