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Ruchukuku(Okinawa)

tokapi

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Some common misconceptions I've heard:

(1) Okinawa is the same as Japan: It's not true.

Okinawa has had its own distinct identity separate from Japan for many centuries, only relatively recently has it became incorporated as Japan. During this time, Japan attempted (and in many cases succeeded) in distorting the Okinawan identity as a Japanese one, and the language being merely a dialect of Japanese.The name Ryukyu itself is Japanese. The Kingdom from which the name is derived, is called Ruchukuku in Okinawan.

(2) Okinawa was part of China: Okinawa was never part of any Chinese dynasty. Prior to its annexation by Japan, Okinawa was known an independent Kingdom, the Ryukyu Kingdom. Prior to the unification of the Ryukyuan islands, there were many independent statelets. Okinawa island itself had 3 different kingdoms prior to its unification. However during the later parts of the Ming Dynasty and part of the Qing, the Ryukyu Kingdom did pay tribute like many other countries in the region at the time. In addition, some have argued that due to the heavy Chinese influence, Ryukyuans may be descended from Chinese. Again this is not true as their roots came up north instead of the east. However there certain where some migrants from China who did settle down in the islands.

(3) The ruling kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom came from Korea: I've actually heard this, and again this is not true and there's no historic evidence to prove this.Korea is Korea, China is China, Japan is Japan and Okinawa is Okinawa, case closed.


photo#1 Shiru Castle of Okinawa ( rebuilt )
photo#2 Eisa dance
 
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tokapi

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Indigenous Ruchukuku Culture:

The culture of Okinawa differs considerably from that of Japan. Due to Okinawa's heavy maritime trade, it borrowed considerably from China as well as from S.E Asia (Particularly Bali, Vietnam and Thailand). Things such as the dragon boat race, ancestor worship and architecture were derived from China. Okinawan alcohol, particularly Awamori, came from Thailand. Ironically while the ancient Ryukyuan courts used ancient Chinese characters, they were not directly derived from China, but instead, came from Japan (who in turn learned it from the Chinese). The culture on the other islands can also be different as well. Miyako has a tradition called Pantu, in which mud men armed with sticks, roam the villages. It is said your house is blessed should one of these mud men splashes mud in the house. Okinawan martial arts are also famous, in particular Karate. Derived from Chinese martial arts, they were modified to fit the situation in Okinawa where various weapon bans were placed by Japanese conquerers. However it is important to note that the Pechins (Okinawan Samurais) were allowed to keep their swords.


Ruchukuku Language:

Uchinaguchi (Okinawan language) is part of the Japonic family. Within Uchinaguchi, there are a number of sub-languages as each island speaks a "dialect" that can be incomprehensible to each other. The standard Okinawan language is based on the Naha dialect (due to its position as the center of the Ryukyuan kingdom). Dialects such as those spoken in Amami are intelligible, however those spoken in Myaako (Miyako in Japanese) or elsewhere, can be totally incomprehensible. Japanese speakers cannot understand any of these "dialects". Both Japanese and the Okinawan languages share a common ancestor with an Ancient Proto-Japonic language, however after time has passed, the languages became different from each other.. not too different to how French and Italian are formed. Interestingly, Uchinaguchi retains many archaic elements of proto-Japanese that modern Japanese doesn't. For example the use of the "F" sound, which has virtually disappeared in modern Japanese with the exception of ふ. Standard Okinawan uses significantly fewer Chinese derived words than Japanese (while other aspects of its culture borrowed heavily from China than Japan). However the same can not be said about the other islands which use even less.

As far as its ancient writing goes. the Ryukyu Kingdom recorded documents in Classical Chinese and Hiragana, they never used Katakana. Ironically use of Classical Chinese and Hiragana (both of which were modified for local use) came from Japan instead of directly from China. These were not used on the other islands.

Today many Okinawans speak standard Japanese, but with an Okinawan accent.For example, Okinawan's often use ”さ”.
 

tokapi

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Current Okinawan issues:


WWII: When it comes to past WWII atrocities, many Okinawans can relate to the victims of China, Korea, Indochina, the Philippines, etc. While not widely known, Okinawa experienced much hardship during the war. The Empire could not accept that Japan was a multi-ethnic country. They forced the concept of a singular identity to Ainus and Okinawans and forced them to pledge their allegiance to the Emperor. Things such as suicide for the emperor were taught to these peoples even though historically, Ryukyu had its own Emperor and the Ainus had their own chiefs. Many Okinawans were forced to join the IJA and to die for them.

Things became worse during the later years of the war. The Japanese started using ancient Okinawan buildings, even Shuri Castle itself, as a military base. As a result, many of these ancient buildings were bombed. Shuri Castle had to be totally rebuilt several decades later. Please note that the Japanese military rarely ever used their own ancient castles or buildings as military bases. When the Americans were entering Okinawa, the Japanese forced many Okinawan villages to commit mass suicides for the emperor. Today many Okinawans are battling with members of the LDP who wish to distort history by refusing to acknowledge Japan's actions in Okinawa and down right white wash it! After the war, things were not any easier. Since the military government of Japan focused excessively on its military and little on sustainable agriculture, Japan entered a period known as "Kyoudatsu". Anyone who watched the movie "Grave of the Fireflies" will know what its about. Okinawa in particular was the hardest hit, with many forced to eat unknown and poisonous plants in order to survive. needless to say, many died.

American bases: Due to the threat of a war between China and Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea, and the Soviets, the Americans established MANY bases on Okinawa. Infact the sheer majority of the bases in Japan are on this tiny island. These basis have brought a number of issues. Crimes such as murder and rape, noise pollution, weapons pollution, loss of valuable land on a small island, etc. While some of these issues may be isolated grievances, Tokyo again, has screwed over Okinawa. Many of the bilateral treaties between the US and what it does in Okinawa, is done by Japan with very little (in most cases zero) feed back from the local community. If a US servicemen commits a crime, they cannot be tried in Okinawa's courts. Many cases such as a gang rape of a 12 year old girl, killings, etc did not receive satisfactory punishment. While the US is partly to blame, much of the blame goes to Tokyo which has given the US very very privileged treaties that no other countries dealing with US bases, gives the US (Even US states). In the US itself, warplanes are not permitted to fly over certain areas, public schools for one. But that is not the case in Okinawa, one American aircraft even crashed in a University! The military then forbade local figures from entering the scene to investigate.

Many Okinawans are employed by the bases, however the base also occupies much land that could be used for tourism or the development of other industries. However it could be said that the biggest grievance is how Tokyo handles the situation in Okinawa with little care for the perspectives of its residents. Perhaps if Tokyo allowed Okinawa more jurisdiction over its interactions with the US, the situation could become better.
 

tokapi

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History:


The history depends on which version you prefer to believe. If you go by Okinawan folk tales, then its at least 17,000 years old. The Tenson Dynasty was said to last thousands of years according to the Chuzan annals.More historical ones, you can refer to this (credits, Okinawa Shinryu Karate):


Okinawan History: A Chronology

PRIMEVAL Old Stone Age
Shell Mound Age
605 The Chinese Emperor Yo (Sui Dynasty) sends Shu-Kan to the Ryukyus
608 From about this time, the "Southern Island" people pay tribute to the Japanese Imperial Court.

ANCIENT
1187 Shunten becomes overlord of Central Okinawa
1260 Eiso beomes new overlord
1296 A Mongol invasion army attacks Okinawa and is repulsed
1317 Miyako islanders drift ashore in China while enroute to trade in Souteast Asia
1326 At about this time, the Three Kingdoms in Okinawa (Hokuzan, Chuzan, and Nanzan) begin their rivalry
1349 Satto becomes ruler of Chuzan and increases its influence
1350 Nanzan (the southern kingdom) sends tribute to the Ming
1383 Hokuzan (the northern kingdom) sends tribute to the Ming
1392 A group of Chinese, now known as the "Thirty-six Families" are naturalized in Chuzan.
1404 A Siamese shop comes to Okinawa to trade
1416 The Chuzan King, Sho Hashi, captures Nakijin Castle and brings about the downfall of Hokuzan.
1425 Sho Hashi sends trading vessles to Siam
1428 Sho Hashi sends trading vessels to Palembang (Sumatra)
1429 Sho Hashi conquers Nanzan and is the first to succeed in uniting all Okinawa. (Beginning of the First Sho Dynasty.)
1430 Trading ships are sent to Java
1431 Sho Hashi establishes formal diplomatic relations with Korea and initiates trade
1451 Sho Kimpuku builds the Chokotei (a road around Naha inlet)
1458 The Gosamayu Awamari rebellion takes place. A large bell (the Bankoku Shinryo), on which there is an inscription concerning the prosperity of the Ryukyus, is cast.
1459 Kanemaru Uchima is appointed Foreign Trade Minister.
1463 Trading ships are sent to Malacca
1466 After an audience with the Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate (Japan), a Ryukyuan friendship mission sets off gunpowder outside the gates in celebration and astonishes the people of Kyoto.
1470 Kanemaru Uchima overthrows the First Sho Dynasty, begins a new (the second) Sho Dynasty, and assumes the name of Sho En.
1492 The Enkakuji Temple is built
1498 Trade begins with Patani (on east coast of Malaysa)
1500 Sho Shin conquers Miyako Island, he also puts down the rebellion led by Oyake Akahachi of Yaeyama Island and assumes rule over the castles of Saki Shima (the "Southern Island" as Miyako and Yaeyama were then known.)
1511 Portugal causes the downfall of Malacca and strengthens it to be used as a base for the invasion of Asia.
1532 The first volume of the Omoro Soshi (a compendium of ancient songs and rituals) is compiled.
1534 The Chinese Ming Emperor sends an envoy, Chin Kan, and party to visit the Ryukyus
1553 Yara Castle is built at Naha Harbor and coastal defenses are prepared
1579 A tablet inscribed "Country and Propriety" is placed on public display at Shuri Castle. (Translator's Note: This tablet had been presented to the King at Shuri by the Chinese Emperor in recognition of the Ryukyuans' strict adherence to the Chinese rules of ritual and etiquette.)
1592 Hideyoshi Toyotomi (the Japanese Shogun) orders the King of the Ryukyus to assist in the invasion of Korea; the King ignores the order.
1600 The Eastern army wins the great Battle of Sekigahara (in Japan). Ieyasu Tokugawa establishes his leadership in Japan.
1609 Ichisa Shimazu of Satsuma sends 3,000 troops and subjugates the Ryukyu Kingdom. (The Shimazu Invasion)
1611 The Satsuma Clan looks into the productive capacity of the Ryukyus; divides the Amami Oshima area (the islands north of Yoron Island) from the Ryukyus: and hands down the Okite Jugo Jo (fifteen ordinances to be obeyed by all in the Ryukyus).
1614 The Satsumas order strict surveillance of all shipping into and out of the Ryukyus.
 

tokapi

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Okinawan food .....


photo#1 Okinawan doughnuts ( Sata Andagi )
photo#2 Goya chanpuru
photo#3 Okinawan soba
 
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senseiman

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Its an interesting subject. I read George Kerr's "Okinawa: History of an Island People" and was fascinated by it.
 

-Rudel-

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Have you ever been to Okinawa at least over a period of a year?
 

tokapi

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The Ryukyus ( 窶板ョ窶ケ窶ヲ ):

Includes today's Okinawa Prefectures and the Amami Islands which are administered as part of the Kagoshima Prefecture (Historically they are part of the Ryukyu Kingdom). While the Japanese may refer the main island as Okinawa, it has always been called Uchina in the Okinawan Language.
 
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After 1614, please write the history of Okinawa.🙂
About FOOD culture of Okinawa,
Kombu and consideration of pork are important.
:)
 

tokapi

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History: continued


PRE-MODERN (Feudal)
1623 Compilation of the Omoro Soshi (22 volumes) is completed
1631 As a means of keeping the Ryukyus under control, the Satsuma send a permanent administrator to Naha.
1634 The system of sending missions of congratulation and gratitude to Edo (Tokyo) is begun.
1637 A poll tax is levied on Miyako and Yaeyama Islands
1644 The Ching Dynasty succeeds the Ming Dynasty in China
1650 Sho Jo-Ken (Choshu Haneji) prepares the "History of Chuzan."
1667 Sho Jo-Ken orders acquisition of an elementary knowledge of the Japanese performing arts.
1711 A dictionary of the old Ryukyuan language (Konkoken Shu) is compiled
1719 Chokun Tamagusuku composes the Kumi Udui (odori) and the first performance is presented
1728 Sai On becomes a member of the Regency Council of Three (Prime Minister).
1734 The scholar Chobin Hishicha is executed for political offenses
1771 A tidal wave strikes Miyako and Yaeyama Islands, causing great damage
1798 A state school is founded at Shuri for the upper class descendants of samurai
1816 The British warships Alceste and Lyra call on the Ryukyus on their way home from China. Captain Basil Hall of the Lyra later stops briefly at Helena and tells the exiled Napoleon of the Ryukyus.
1844 The French warship Alemene calls and puts a Christian missionary at Naha
1846 An English warship brings the active missionary Bettelheim to Naha.
1851 Perry, leading an American naval force, comes to Naha and visits Shuri Castle
1854 Russian warships call on Naha. Perry returns and a compact between the United States and the Kingdom of "Lew Chew" is signed.
1859 The Makishi-Onga incident occurs
1866 Sho Tai receives seals and documents of investiture as King from the Manchurs; he is the last to receive these and is also the last King of the Ryukyus.
1868 The Tokugawa Shogunate is overthorwn and a national government under the Emperor Meiji is realized.
1871 A ship manned by Miyako Islanders is shipwrecked on Formosa, and fifty-four men are murdered by aborigines. (The Formosan Shipwreck incident)
1872 The Meiji government abolishes the Kingdom of the Ryukyus and establishes the Ryukyu Han (feudal clan).
1879 In order to make the Ryukyus an integral part of Japan, although opposed by the hereditary lords of the Ryukyus, Meiji abolishes the Ryukyu Han and sets up Okinawa Prefecture.
1880 The Chinese Manchus strongly protest the Meiji rule over the Ryukyus; the question is resolved through the arbitration of ex-U.S. President Grant.
1881 The Meiji government decides to preserve and utilize the old system of rule within Okinawa Prefecture.
1893 Okinawa's first newspaper, the "Ryukyu Shimpo," begins publication.
 
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tokapi

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Surnames:

Okinawans have different surnames than their Japanese counterparts. Anyone in Japan can immediately identifies someone with Okinawan origin from their surname.

some examples:

Yamashiro
Tamashiro
Kaneshiro
Miyashiro
Amuro
Nakasone
Nagata
Sakihara
Uehara (although this is also used in mainland Japan)
Arakaki
Shimabukuro
Gushiken
Miyahiro
Higa
Tamagusuku
etc

Miyako Island :

Shimoji
Sunagawa
Miyaguni
Nakama
 

tokapi

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ニ鱈ニ停?ヲツーニ痴 ( Kewpie ) doll in traditional Okinawan dress :)
 
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tokapi

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History: continued

MODERN
1898 The rivalry between a faction centered around Noboru Jahana, which demands revision of unjust political practices in Okinawa, and the old school deepens. Military conscription laws are put into force.
1903 Land reform is completed; new land distribution and taxation systems are established.
1909 The first election of assemblymen and convocation of an Okinawan Prefectural Assembly take place.
1911 The Okinawan historian, Fuyu Iha, publishes his great work Ko Ryukyu (Ancient Ryukyu).
1914 World War I breaks out.
1919 Laws concerning election of representatives to the House of Representatives are applied fully to Okinawa for the first time.
1925 Due to a severe recession, the three banks on Okinawa suffer management difficulties.
1926 There is great controversy centered around the novel "A Wandering Ryukyuan."
1928 Numerous labor disputes arise in Okinawa.
1934 A social science research association is formed.
1938 An Okinawa executive committee to arouse national spirit is established, and militaristic wartime systems are strengthened.
1940 A dispute about the use of the Okinawan hogen (dialect) takes place.
1941 World War II breaks out.
1944 Okinawa undergoes a great raid by American forces and Naha suffers grave damage. (The October tenth air raid.)
1945 American forces invade Okinawa. Japan surrenders unconditionally.
1946 General MacArthur declares Japan and the Nansei Shoto (all islands from Amami Oshima south to Yaeyama) to be under separate administrations.
1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty puts Okinawa under American administration.
1960 The Okinawan Reversion Council is formed.
1969 Japan and the U.S. issue a joint declaration that, by mutual consent, Okinawa will be reverted to Japan on May 15, 1972.
1972 Administration of Okinawa reverts from U.S. to Japan on May 15th.
1975 The first International Ocean Expo opens on Okinawa's Motobu Peninsula
 

KirinMan

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Surnames:
Okinawans have different surnames than their Japanese counterparts. Anyone in Japan can immediately identifies someone with Okinawan origin from their surname.
some examples:
Yamashiro
Tamashiro
Kaneshiro
Miyashiro
Amuro
Nakasone
Nagata
Sakihara
Uehara (although this is also used in mainland Japan)
Arakaki
Shimabukuro
Gushiken
Miyahiro
Higa
Tamagusuku
etc
Miyako Island :
Shimoji
Sunagawa
Miyaguni
Nakama
Please note that the names that end in "shiro" can also be read differently as well. There are very few Miyashiro's here in Okinawa, however there are tons of Miyagi's. Tamashiro, is normally read Tamaki, Miyahiro is Miyahira, Tamagusuku is also Tamaki.

Nakasone is written with three Kanji, plus a whole lot more. Interesting reading though, thanks for sharing it,
 

James Knott

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Videos about Okinawa

I love the threads here very interesting. I was in Okinawa for a month and had a great time. I'm making some videos about my time in Okinawa.

Check them out...

agilehDOTcomSLASHokinawaDOThtml (the link is in my profile)
 

tokapi

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Okinawans have been genetically intact despite intermarriage with Japanese.The main reason is very high birth rate of Okinawans.through out history,they have had more kids than the rest of Japan and Okinawa Island itself has an over population problem back then and even now which is why many of the "Japanese" diaspora in Brazil, Hawaii, etc are actually Okinawans.

Physically,like most Asian ethnicities,there's some overlap in "looks" between Okinawans and Japanese.There are some distinctive Okinawan features that one can see and identify immediately as Okinawan.For men,its definitely the body hair.Okinawans have more body hair than Japanese and many other Asians ( has much in common with the Ainu and Emishi),just take a look at the arms or legs.Then the eyes,Okinawans generally have larger eyes and double eye lids compared to Japanese.Okinawans are stocky and wider body-built,also tend to have square-ish shaped head.

Many Okinawans feel that girls from Miyako island are the prettiest.Miyako people are strong drinkers and shrewed business people who occupy important jobs.Probably the most famous person from Miyako (but grew up in Okinawa) is Nakama Yukie.
 

tokapi

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Okinawans in general may have varying of "Okinawan Pride".Most like to distinguish themselves from regular Japanese,even if they intermarried with the rest of the Japanese.Many of the half Oki-Jpn seem to identify more with their Okinawan side. However interestingly,a few Oki-Osakan mixes and in those cases have stronger Osaka pride. In Japan.. outside of Okinawa.. Osaka people have very strong pride in their region, dialect and culture.. often they'll call themselves 大阪人 instead of Japanese. Hell, even some full blooded Okinawans who lived in Osaka for years, ended up identifying themselves more as an Osakans.
 
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