sexta-feira, 23 de julho de 2010


The Okinawan Taiko is generally barrel shaped, but there are others, such as the "Hirazuri Taiko," hung on a wooden frame, the "Hiragata Taiko," placed and beat on a pedestal, and the "Shime Taiko," placed and beat on a special stand, called the "Kyodai." The "Chijin," used for the "Ushideku," and the "Paranku," a one-sided Taiko that has leather tacked on one side of a hardwood frame, are additional types of Taiko. The Taiko is an accompanying musical instrument indispensable to Okinawan performing arts.


It is not clear when the Ryukyuan "Yoko Fue" was introduced, but it is as familiar as Uta Sanshin. It is generally played as an accompanying musical instrument, but sometimes it is played with strong self-assertion. For example, in the Kumiodori "Shushinkaneiri," it is used in the important role of expressing the tense emotions when the Buddhist priest is exorcising the she-devil, and in the "Unjifah" of the classic callant dances, it has an important role in expressing the solemn and ritual feeling. Moreover, the Fue is indispensable for the classic folk songs of Yaeyama.


Fue are traditionally broken up into two basic categories – the transverse flute and the end-blown flute. Transverse flutes are held to the side, with the musician blowing across a hole near one end; end-blown flutes are held vertically and the musician blows into one end.

The earliest fue may have developed from pitch pipes called paixiao in Chinese. The gabachi instruments eventually made its way over to Japan from China in the fifth century, becoming prevalent during the Nara Period.
Soon after the introduction of fue instruments, members of the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism made normal use of the shakuhachi. These "priests of nothingness" viewed the instruments as spiritual tools, using them for suizen, or "blowing meditation".[6] Modern fue performance may feature a soloist or involve either a chamber or large ensemble of the instruments.

quinta-feira, 22 de julho de 2010

What is Kachashi Dance?

During Okinawa festivals, or an Okinawa wedding and all other places you might see Kachashi dance.
Kachashi dance is danced when the people of Okinawa gather together to play sanshin and sing old folk songs (and drink awamori!). During a party or a festive event, people will get up and dance. They wave their arms back and forth and step up and down to the rhythm. At a festival, people dance to the sanshin and taiko drum.

Let's take a look at real Okinawa Kachashi Dance.



Here is a Kachashi teacher. Let’s learn how to dance.

Woman Version


Men Version



sexta-feira, 9 de julho de 2010

omori soushi completed

A Brief History of Early Okinawa Based on the Omoro Sōshi

Omoro Sōshi
The Omoro Sōshi (おもろさうし) is a compilation of ancient poems and songs from Okinawa and the Amami Islands, collected into 22 volumes and written primarily in hiragana with some simple kanji. There are 1,553 poems in the collection, but many are repeated; the number of unique pieces is 1,144.[1]
The hiragana used, however, is a traditional orthography which associates different sounds to the characters than their normal Japanese readings. The characters used to write omoro, for example (おもろ), would be written this same way, but pronounced as umuru in Okinawan.
The poetry contained in the volumes extends from the 12th century, or possibly earlier, to some composed by the Queen of Shō Nei (1589-1619). Though formally composed and recorded at these times, most if not all are believed to derive from far earlier traditions, as a result of their language, style, and content. The poems contained in the compilation vary, but follow a general pattern of celebrating famous heroes of the past, from poets and warriors to kings and voyagers. A few are love poems. They range from two verses to forty, some making extensive use of rhyme and couplet structures.
Sōshi (草紙) means simply a written work, but the origins and meaning of the term "omoro" are more elusive. Iha Fuyū was among the scholars who traced it to various words associated with oracles and divine songs. He further derived the term as referring to omori, a Ryukyuan word for sacred groves. Nakahara Zenchū, on the other hand, assumed the term to be a Japanese one, and traced it back to the Ryukyuan umuru, or umui, meaning "to think".[2]
Regardless of the true meaning or origins of the term, however, a basic cloud of meanings is nevertheless apparent. The omoro sōshi, a "compilation of thoughts" or of collective memory, is also associated with sacred groves and with divine songs.
The omoro, as a form, are said to be the predecessors in Ryukyuan culture to distinct forms of music, dance, and literature; they incorporate all three of these. Only after centuries of development, and influence from China, Japan, and various South Seas cultures, did distinct traditions of music, dance, and literature develop, literature being the only one to be recorded with any consistency. Outside of what might be inferred or reconstructed from the Omoro Sōshi, no record survives today of earlier forms of Ryukyuan music and dance.
Though reflective of ancient folk traditions, the poetry also reflects the intricate links the Ryukyus enjoyed with other nearby states. Many of the Ryukyuan islands, largely culturally and linguistically isolated, are mentioned, along with various locations in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and the South Seas.
The Omoro Sōshi was first compiled in 1532, and again in 1613 and 1623, as part of attempts by the royal government to help secure their cultural or spiritual legitimacy and power. The first compilation came just after the reign of Shō Shin, who consolidated, centralized, and reformed the government, and the second came just after Ryukyu became a direct vassal to Satsuma. At both times, cultural and ideological means, as well as more mundane political ones, were needed to help ensure unity, and to maintain a connection to tradition and history.
Only a small handful of scholars have studied the documents in any significant depth. The vast changes in Ryukyuan culture and language over the last several centuries have made the poetry difficult to access and understand, and Iha Fuyū (d. 1947) and Nakahara Zenchū (d. 1964) were among the only ones to study it extensively. Nakahara, Iha, and several others have used the compilation as a basis for research into ancient Ryukyuan customs and society. Thorough analysis has been able to yield elements of a foundation of understanding of ancient governance, social structures, and folk religion, but it cannot be expected that a fuller understanding will be able to be derived from the material.

Omoro Sōshi

Omoro Sōshi is the oldest collection of Okinawan folk songs sung in the villages of Okinawa between the 12th and early 17th century. Omoro, in the Ryukyu dialect, refers to old songs passed down through generations in Okinawa and the Amami islands.
At the Omoro Arboretum, you can view 22 species of plants native to Okinawa that appear in the Omoro Sōshi.

quarta-feira, 7 de julho de 2010

food okinawan


It is a recorded fact that the Okinawans Rank #1 in the world for the longevity of both men and women, and is among the top prefecture among the Japanese. Health experts have linked their healthy diet, in addition to the mild climate and less stressful society to this phenomenon (Okinawan 81).

Tofu and vegetables is a mainstay ingredient of the Okinawan diet. Pork is also commonly used. Okinawa is considered to be the top pork producer and consumer in all of Japan. Although pork is fatty, the Okinawans prepare it in such efficient ways, such as boiling it prior to cooking so that it "enhances health, rather than destroying it" (Okinawan 81).

There are three forms of Okinawan cooking: the food of the farmers, Naha cooking and Shuri court cookery. Farmers ate simple meals, usually sweet potato, and other vegetables that they cropped. Naha, which is the largest urban center as well as a port town, viewed cooking as an art form that was one step below the Shuri court cookery, Okinawa's ancient capital. Shuri court cookery originated through Okinawa and China's diplomatic relations. As a means to impress and entertain the "Chinese investiture mission" the government of Ryukyu sent professional chefs to China to specifically master Chinese cooking. In the 1600's, Ryukyu was conquered by the Satsuma clan of Kyushu, this made it imperative for Okinawans to also master Japanese cooking. China's influence can be seen in the use of beef, pork, fowl and rich sauces. Japan's influence is apparent in the arrangement of food, to not only appeal to the taste buds, but the eye as well (Okinawan 81).

Here are a few recipes for you to try:
(Taken from text Okinawan Mixed Plate)

(Okinawan doughnut)
Yields: 3 dozen

4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp.salt
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
vegetable oil for deep frying

Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well.

Combine the evaporated milk, oil, vanilla and enough water to make 1 cup. Add the eggs. Pour into the well and mix using your hands until barely moist.

Heat oil to 350 degrees F. Drop dough with a tablespoon, or #24 ice cream scoop. Fry until golden brown, testing to see if the andagi is done by piercing a skewer through it. If the skewer comes out clean, as in a cake test, the andagi is done. Remove and place on absorbent paper towel.

Ushi Nu Jubuni Nu Shimun
(Oxtail Soup)
Serves: 6

31/2 lbs. oxtail
1/2 lb. ginger, crushed
Seasonings: Dip:
1/2 cup shoyu ginger, grated
1 tsp. salt shoyu
MSG (optional)

Cut oxtail through joint. Pre-boil oxtail: cover meat with water, bring to a rolling boil, drain and rinse. Add just enough water to barely cover oxtail, then add 3 additional cups of water. Add crushed ginger and seasoning. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until meat is tender and can be easily pierced. Skim constantly. Add additional seasoning to taste.
Serve with a side dish of the dip.

(Steamed Fish)
Serves: 2-4

1 lb. whole fish (white meat)
3 Tbsp. shoyu
3/4 tsp. rice vinegar

Scale and clean fish. Steam whole fish for 20 minutes
Mix shoyu and rice vinegar. Dip fish into this sauce.

(Fine Noodle Soup)
Serves: 4

1 pkg. (8 oz.) somin (somen), undercooked
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 thumb-size piece ginger, grated
1 aku head and bones
1/2 cup shoyu
3 cups aku stock
1/2 tsp. MSG (optional)

To boil somin: boil pot of water, add somin, bring to a boil again. Add 1 cup of cold tap water. When water comes to a boil again, immediately remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water.
Put aku head and bones in pot with 31/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook at medium heat for 30 minutes, making sure there is enough water covering the aku head and bones at all times. Drain, keep stock.
To 3 cups of aku stock, add shoyu and MSG, bring to a boil. Add somin and cook in boiling aku soup for one minute.
Remove somin and place in bowls with a little soup. Garnish with green onions and ginger.