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, May 7, 2012

Hakugin Do (Fisherman's Shrine)

 During our stay in Okinawa we stayed in Yoza a small village that is now part of Itoman City. As part of the festivities of the Uchinanchu Taikai we participated in a tour of the southern sites around Itoman. The city took the visiting uchinanchu and there families around by bus and showed them the things in the area that make their home town area special. One of those places was Hakugin Do the fisherman's shrine.

Long ago, it is said that a fisherman from Itoman once borrowed a large sum of money from a Satsuma Samurai named Kodama Saemon. The fisherman however, was unable to pay his debt, so he hid from Kodama in a nearby cave. The samurai grew angry and began searching for the fisherman, asking villagers about his whereabouts. Kodama soon found the fisherman and threatened to kill him with his mighty sword unless he received payment. The fisherman begged for his life “No matter how much anger you feel, do not strike with your sword,” he pleaded. The words he spoke reached Kodama’s heart and the samurai decided to show him mercy. He extended the time of repayment for the fisherman’s debt until the following year. The fisherman wept silently for joy in the darkness of the cave and thanked Kodama for his kindness. Upon his return to Kagoshima, Kodama faced a similar situation when he found his wife that night asleep in his dark home with another man. Consumed by anger, the samurai drew his sword to kill the sleeping stranger. But at the height of his anger, just before he was about to strike, he remembered the words of the fisherman and his act of mercy. He dropped his sword to his side. Realizing there was someone else present, the two sleeping bodies awoke. To his astonishment, Kodama discovered that the person next to his wife was actually his mother, who had slept next to her daughter-in-law purposefully dressing as a man to help protect her while Kodama was away. Kodama broke down and wept as he realized he had nearly killed his own mother.

Kodama returned to Okinawa wishing to thank the fisherman and to cancel the debt, but the fisherman had already gathered the money he owed Kodama and insisted on repaying him. After arguing for quite a while, they finally agreed to put the money inside the same cave where the fisherman had hid. Today, the small shrine of Hakugin Do marks the spot of this legendary cave. 

Here is a video I took of our trip to Hakugin Do.

Hakugin Do is still used for prayer and plays today and is an important part in the spiritual customs of fisherman during the first day of the Chinese lunar New Year. The shrine also receives many visitors during the Itoman ha (Dragon boat) races in June. Hakugin Do is located about 500 meters north of Itoman Rotary on Route 331, on the right. When entering Itoman by vehicle from Naha, the shrine is on the left just past the FM Taman Radio Station.


  1. I need to remember to take a breath + step back, as I/we have grown accustomed to instantaneous outcomes and responses. Thank you for sharing the story!

  2. Glad to see you're back in action. I've been fairly busy myself, moving. Getting semi-caught up now and hope to visit Yomitan for this year's dragonboat event.