“The Gosamaru Chronicle” from the Nakagusuku Village Office

Really cool website from the Nakagusuku Village Office (shared on Twitter by the Nakagusuku Village Tourist Association) called “The Gosamaru Chronicle” that’s available in several languages (in English too). We love the manga look of the website and that there’s so much information about Gosamaru (a lot of love and care went into this) — the “Gosamaru-Amawari Disturbance” has the makings of a summer blockbuster movie. There are also 20 videos (around 3 minutes 30 seconds for each) with English subtitles, so settle down with some chinsukou and sanpincha and let’s learn Gosamaru’s story together!

It is said that the first castle with full-scale stone masonry in Japan was Komakiyama Castle, built by Oda Nobunaga in 1563.
This reveals that Ryukyu had developed stone fortification techniques more than 120 years earlier than Japan, and thus proves Gosamaru as a genius of fortification who promoted these advanced techniques.


November 1st is Luchu History & Culture Day

via Website

November 1st is designated as Luchu History and Culture Day (琉球歴史文化の日) and a special website has been created that has information on workshops and special contests. For the contest portion, the logo mark design has already been decided but there are three other contests that run until the end of the month (9/30 Uchinaa time):

  • Photo & Catchcopy Contest is open to children enrolled in elementary, junior high, high school, and special schools in Uchinaa.
  • Kajadifu Video Contest is open to all Uchinānchu and they’re looking for video performances of “Kajadifu” (YouTubers Ryukatsutyu has a perfect example of this) showcasing the scenery from your part of the world. A special note to add that you will be using their recording of “Kajadifu” that can be downloaded on the contest’s webpage. Even if you don’t participate in the contest, be sure to download the song as it’s an amazing recording by Higa Yasuharu-shinshii (Ryūkyū Koten Ongaku Nomura-ryū Hozonkai).
  • Ryūka Contest looks like it’s open to all Uchinānchu (although it’s not clearly stated) and the rules are simple since it has to be a san-pachi-roku Ryūka and use Shimakutuba.

The bad news? Most of the website (except for the Kajadifu contest page) is only available in Japanese (at this time). So here’s the English translation of the website using Google Translate. Chibariyo to everyone entering the contest and leave a comment if you’re participating.

Okinawa History Club YouTube Channel

While it’s only in Japanese, there’s a YouTube channel called Okinawa History Club (沖縄歴史倶楽部チャンネル) run by historian Maeda Yuuki (links to his Twitter profile). He has videos of Zoom sessions as well as walking tours of Ryukyu history. The 4-part series for the Ryukyu dance “Nubui Kuduchi” is of particular interest as he retraces the path from the Shuri Castle area to Naha Port.

Part 1 of 4 of “I walked Nubui Kuduchi!”

Ryukyu Historical Drama Shō En Ou (TV)

via Twitter

In the category of “I really want to watch this!” comes the RBC Ryukyu historical drama Shō En Ou (the king of the second Shō dynasty) which aired in February 2020 and is being streamed on Japan’s Paravi service and sold as a DVD (sadly, no English subtitles for both editions).

The cast is led by ParanaiSaranai’s Chinen Shingo (he’s also the first Kanai/Ryujin Mabuyer!) as King Shō En and features actors and actresses from Okinawa. I found the DVD for sale on Amazon Japan but it’s region code 2 (not playable on US players) so I may have to go the Paravi route which is at least offering 2 weeks for free.

Center for Okinawa Studies Conference 2009

“From Aza, through Sanzan, Loochoo, and Ryukyu, to Okinawa, to Uchinanchu Diaspora—Where is Okinawan Studies Headed?”

March 19th – March 21st, 2009
Hawaii Imin International Conference Center,
East West Center, Hawaiʻi

The first COS Okinawan Studies conference will feature scholars from UH, the US mainland, Okinawa and Japan and will examine ways in which the various areas of Okinawan Studies can be developed.

Specific topics include:

  • Okinawa Studies in Okinawa, Japan, North America and Europe (Keynote Speeches)
  • Diasporic Identities
  • Traditional Ryukyu
  • Performing Arts
  • Dictionary Production
  • Models of Collaboration
  • Language Revitalization
  • Literature
  • Contemporary Issues (Economy and Politics)
  • Contemporary Issues (Military Issues)
  • Textiles

More information as well as the conference registration form is available on the COS Okinawan Studies 2009 website.

(Nifee deebitan for the tip, Char!)

Meisa Kuroki plays female Oda Nobunaga – Tokyograph

Actress Meisa Kuroki has been chosen to star in the play ‘Onna Nobunaga,’ based on the book of the same name by Naoki Prize-winning author Kenichi Sato. The story, set during the Sengoku period, is based on the premise that Oda Nobunaga was actually female. Kuroki will of course play the role of Nobunaga.

Kuroki will be supported by singer and musical actor Akinori Nakagawa, playing the role of the samurai Akechi Mitsuhide. Nakagawa is a rising talent in the world of stage musicals, having earned multiple awards since starring in ‘Mozart!’ in 2002.

‘Onna Nobunaga’ will be performed at Tokyo’s Aoyama Theatre on June 5-21, followed by shows in Osaka at Theater BRAVA! on June 26-28.

(Link: “Meisa Kuroki plays female Oda Nobunaga.”)

3-4 Day Special: Kajadifuu Bushi

In celebration of Sanshin Day, March 4, I’m featuring a Ryūkyū Koten Ongaku (Ryūkyū classical music) song called “Kajadifū Bushi (かぎやで風節).” It has a bit of history for myself as the first song I learned on uta-sanshin from Katsumi Shinsato-sensei some fifteen years ago and I’ve been playing it ever since. Here’s a little background information on the song from Naganori Komine’s Okinawan Poetry: A Translation of Okinawan Poems from the KUN-KUN-SI (The Textbook of Okinawan song).

There are several different interpretations of the background of this song.

(1) There was a mute prince in the Ryūkyū kingdom. A high ranking clansmen named Ūaragusiku was grieved by this. One day, the prince found out that he was being considered to be the King’s successor. The prince demonstrated that he had just been pretending to be dumb in order to see what was going on among his followers. Watching the scene, the clansmen Ūaragusiku express his joy in this verse.

(2) A blacksmith, or KANJAYA named Okuma, helped Prince Shoen when there was a crisis. After that, when Shoen inherited the kingdom, Okuma became a clansmen. The blacksmith expressed his joy in this verse.

Today’s joyous occasion,

To what can we compare it?

It’s like a bud waiting to bloom,

Touched by the morning dew.

Sample of Kajadifu Bushi.

Okinawan music and dance performance: ‘Loochoo nu Kwa, Children of Loochoo’

Norman Kaneshiro-sensei emailed information on an Okinawan music and dance performance his group has lined up for March 28, 2008, a Saturday. Titled “Loochoo nu Kwa, Children of Loochoo,” the performance featuring the talented members of Ukwanshin Kabudan will be held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (<rant>for those like me who are irritated by websites that resize your browser’s window, this is one of them</rant>). Ukwanshin Kabudan has a blog too! Way to go, guys. 🙂

For more information, download the poster and/or the synopsis (includes the artists’ profiles).

Garrett Kam: Breezes from Lands Below the Winds in the Ryukyus

Southeast Asian Influences in Okinawan Culture
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
3:30-4:30 pm
Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319

Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the Ryukyu Kingdom was the main trade link between East and Southeast Asia, even transporting goods from SouthAsia to China and Japan. The impact of these early contacts with Java, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia still
appear today in various aspects of Okinawan culture, especially textiles, dance, music and language.

This talk will cover the history of Ryukyuan contacts with the “Lands Below the Winds”, the places that the monsoon blew its ships down to. Through a variety of visual and audio examples, it will show how Okinawa absorbed and transformed cultural influences from Southeast Asia.

The presenter is Garrett Kam, who was born in Hawai’i and finished his M.A. Asian Studies at UHM. He has been living in Southeast Asia for over 20 years, especially on Java and Bali.

Sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies (go COS!) and the Asian Studies Program through its Freeman Foundation Artist in Residence project.

[Nifee to Norman Kaneshiro sensei for the info!]