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.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turning 50 years old in Okinawa was really nothing at all considering.

When visiting Okinawa this year I turned fifty years old and since returning I've thought about it and what it means to have existed for half a century. Some may look at it as if "half of my life is now over" and still others may look at it as if "I have finally reached a time in my life when I can enjoy the adventure of the next fifty years." I tend to aspire to the second train of thought.  I hope that I can use the experience of the first half of my life to do a better job in the next fifty years.

Reaching the half way point of my existence in Okinawa was over shadowed (as it should have been) by the birthday celebration of my mother in law Yoshiko Ishiki (Kakazu, from the village of Yoza) who turned 88 years old while we were in Okinawa. She suffered a brain aneurism when she was in her 60's but fought her way back to nearly perfect health. Now at 88, she could still be considered a young un' by the many of the centenarians living in Okinawa today. However, the brain injury she suffered is now taking its toll by waging havoc with her short term memory. I found myself having the same conversation every five minutes with her. Even if it was cute at first, it can make you realize how it is important to do and think the things you like while you still have the physical ability and sound mind to do so.

Yoshiko after the War
During our stay we spoke to her on several occasions asking her about her past and things she could remember about her life. Funny thing about brain injuries, even if the short term is lost the long term memory can many times remain intact. This is the case with Yoshiko and she told me of the times she rode the train from Kochinda to Naha as a child to buy kimonos. She beamed when she told us about her brother who had been the local train station manager for the railroad as he had been the first in her family to move up from the ranks of being a farmer. She then told us of riding in a rickshaw to get to their final destination a store that sold girls clothing. It was a good time. Then she told us of the time she remembered during the battle of Okinawa. As she spoke she pulled her hair apart on the back of her head exposing a scar from some shrapnel that had injured her. She told me that it didn't hurt her anymore and she smiled as if it were no big deal. Yoshiko was in her early twenties at the time of the battle and was in charge of taking care of the children in the cave where they hid from the battle. Many of her family members lost their lives during the battle. These are rubbings of their names taken from the wall at the peace memorial park where the 200000 names of those who died in the battle are inscribed.
There was a lot of family lost during the battle.

I suppose my life has been easy when compared to the life of Yoshiko Kakazu. She was forced to take on a lot of responsibility at a very young age. Still had the will to go forth even after so many of her family had been taken. Raised a large family where they had to grow the food they needed to live on. She also worked the sugarcane fields with my father in law for many of the years of her life. She also gave me the greatest gift of my life when she produced the fifth of her six daughters.

Here is the video of Yoshiko's 88th Birthday celebration. Oh and that's me playing Happy Birthday on the Sanshin.


  1. Tom,
    Great tribute you gave here. I didn't know you played the sanshin. Sorry we didn't get together during your visit to Okinawa. We were both busy, at the time, I guess. Next time, OK ?

  2. I just got to Okinawa last friday!
    Im very happy about being here because my dad is actually from Yaesecho but moved to Tokyo long time ago, this is my first time here and im excitetd, it gives me the opportunity to learn about my dad's hometown and also meet my family for the first time!!
    I just started my blog 2 days ago and Im doing my best even though I get pretty confused on how to set it most of the time! lol