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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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's almost 2011 the year of the Rabbit

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which begins officially on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012. The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animals signs. The Rabbit is a lucky sign. Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends. They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but also need their own space.

According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiation. Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children. Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

Okinawa of course has been greatly influenced by the Chinese culture and adopted the lunar calendar long ago. Here is a video I found on the Okinawa Times Youtube site about a couple, Miyagi Morio (32) Kyoko (35) his wife, who live in Okinawa and make traditional Bingata animals each year to symbolize the year of the Chinese zodiac. The video is actually from December 15, 2010. The couples bingata workshop is called the "Red Mamoru" and is located in Itoman. Every year the couple produces thirty palm-sized stuffed animals made from traditional bingata cloth which are filled with salt. The unique pattern of the Bingata's colorful design gives the amulets depth, texture and expresses the loveliness of the zodiac rabbit. This year the couple worked extra hard on their creations which sold out in just 40 minutes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kumiodori 組踊 "Child 敵討 two" Performed July 19th 2010

Kumiodori is a Japanese performing art found in the Okinawa islands. It is based upon traditional Okinawan music and dance, but also incorporates elements from mainland Japan, such as Nogaku or Kabuki, as well as from China. Kumiodori dramas recount local historical events or legends, accompanied by a traditional three-stringed instrument called the Sanshin. The phrases have a particular rhythm, based upon traditional poetry and the distinctive intonation of the Ryukyu scale, and are performed in the ancient language of Okinawa, Uchinaguchi. The physical movements of the performers evoke those of a pythoness at traditional rituals of ancient Okinawa. All parts were originally performed by male actors, but in modern times are also played by women. Techniques unique to Okinawa can be seen in the methods of hair-dressing, costumes and decorations used on stage. There is a need to strengthen transmission motivated Kumiodori performers to establish a Traditional Kumiodori Preservation Society, which trains performers, revives discontinued dramas, and carries out performances on a regular basis. In addition to classical works that emphasize themes of loyalty and filial duty, new dramas have been produced with modern themes and choreography that still retain the traditional Kumiodori style. Kumiodori plays a central role in preserving ancient Okinawan vocabulary as well as transmitting literature, performing arts, history and ethics.


組踊 "Child 敵討 two" was performed November 19th 2010 at the Okinawa National Theater. It has now been added as one of UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage performances relating to the Ryukyuan culture. I found this by accident and thought it was so wonderful that I had to add it to the blog. The first video is an introductory to the four parts of the play. The following four videos are of the performance itself. I believe this is a story of revenge by two sisters that leads to assassination. If anyone can comment as to the storyline please do so to help everyone better understand, myself included. Thanks for looking and I hope you enjoy them.

Michihiko's warm-up for us a Kakazu.

組踊「二童敵討」の前説です。沖縄の伝統芸能「組踊」は2010年11月16日、ユネ­スコの無形文化遺産に登録されました。舞台は3日後の19日に国立劇場おきなわで行わ­れたもので、嘉数道彦さんが前説をしてくれました。

The Kumiodori Nidou Tekiuchi Scene 1

2010年11月19日、国立劇場おきなわ。生徒のための組踊鑑賞教室。組踊「二童敵­討」①阿麻和利登場

The Kumiodori Nidou Tekiuchi Scene 2

2010年11月19日、国立劇場おきなわ。生徒のための組踊鑑賞教室。組踊「二童敵­討」②父の敵討ちを決意した鶴松、亀千代と、母親の別れのシーンです。


The Kumiodori Nidou Tekiuchi Scene 3

いよいよクライマックス! 組踊「二童敵討」③野遊びと敵討ちのシーンの前半です。

The Kumiodori Nidou Tekiuchi Scene 4

組踊「二童敵討」③野遊びと敵討ち後半です。

I would like to thank the Okinawa Times for posting this on You Tube!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ishiganto

While driving or walking through many of the tiny streets on Okinawa, you may notice a small, carved stone or placard set in walls outside many homes. Placed in discreet locations, these small objects -- called ishiganto -- are believed to ward off evil spirits. They are always positioned in the corner of a forked road or at the head of a T-shaped intersection due to the belief that if a spirit finds a house at an intersection, it is more inclined to enter the house than to make a turn. Because of the many winding roads on Okinawa, ishiganto turn up almost everywhere.


Ishiganto originated in eighth-century China and were brought to Okinawa sometime during the 15th century. Chinese legend has it that there was once a heroic man named Ishiganto who stood up to evil. Many people would often write his name in stone where their houses were located at intersections to ward off evil spirits. This tradition was carried on, and you can now find ishiganto on many streets on Okinawa.