November 27, 2018

Bone-Washing Ritual in Okinawa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — okinawacollection @ 10:00 AM

In December 2016, the Okinawa Collection Blog delivered the news that the film titled Born Bone Boon was premiered at the 11th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. The same film, Born Bone Born (the Japanese original title is 「洗骨」(senkotsu) is one of the films premiered at the 38th Hawai’i International Film Festival.

The film uses a bone-washing ritual practiced in a part of Okinawa.

The film’s official site:

Born Bone Born from HIFF on Vimeo.

The trailer:

This film was directed by Toshiyuki Teruya, who is known as his stage name, “Gori.” Gori is one of the comedians who came to UH Mānoa with the play titled Alohaitai.

Evgeny S. Baksheev wrote an article on rituals in Okinawa, including bone-washing, which is available as an Open Access resource.

Baksheev, Evgeny S. “Becoming Kami? Discourse on Postmortem Ritual Deification in the Ryukyus.” Japan Review, no. 20 (2008): 275-339.

Another author wrote, “[t]he living answer the call of the dead, helping them to resume their
material engagement with the social world. Through most of Okinawa, the practice of senkotsu (bone washing), a creative, coordinated labor organized by the women of the community, was necessary to transform the ruins of the human body into a thing pure and beautiful.”

Christopher T. Nelson. “Listening to the Bones: The Rhythms of Sacrifice in Contemporary Japan.” Boundary 2, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2015): 143-155; the quote from Nelson, “Listening to the Bones,” p. 146.

May 11, 2018

Traditional Burial in Okinawa Captured in DVD

Filed under: resources — Tags: — okinawacollection @ 7:00 AM

A company called Kaiensha (海燕社) released a 2-disc DVD set titled Sosen to no utage gangōsai: Yaese-chō Tōme, Kogusuku (=『祖先との宴 龕甲祭: 八重瀬町当銘・小城』).  The DVD is a documentary that depicts a historical burial known in Yaese town in Okinawa. The burial style is known since 1833, and the year 2017 marked the 6th 25 years anniversary.

DVD cover

One of the items in the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection titled Ryukyu fūzoku no zu (琉球風俗之図) was used for the DVD case jacket and in the documentary.

image from DVD

The same image can be seen at the University of the Ryukyus Library’s digital archives’ page.

According to Okinawa minzoku jiten (= roughly translated as the Dictionary of Okinawan Customs, 『沖縄民俗辞典』), 龕 (pronounced as “gan”) is a red portable shrine to carry a coffin to a burial site.

Watanabe, Yoshio. Okinawa Minzoku Jiten. Tōkyō: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2008. p. 153-154.

Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum has a column that explains Okinawan burial systems.

Okinawa no sōbosei: Heisei 27-nendo no tokubetsuten ni mukete (in Japanese)

The newspaper, Ryukyu Shimpo, has an article about the 2017 gangōsai in Yaese Town.

“Gangōsai junbi ni netsu: 12-nen buri, 29-nichi muke jūmin kyōryoku, Yaese-cho Tōme, Kogusuku,” Ryukyu Shimpo, September 26, 2017. (「龕甲祭 準備に熱 12年ぶり、29日向け住民協力 八重瀬町当銘・小城」、琉球新報、2017年9月26日。)

The DVD set was a gift to the Library. It will be cataloged and become available to checkout from Sinclair Library. Stay tuned!

January 28, 2017

Happy Lunar Calendar New Year 2017

Filed under: resources — Tags: , — okinawacollection @ 7:00 AM

Happy Lunar New Year 2017 / 旧正月(ソーグワチ)

In Okinawa the New Year has been celebrated on the January 1st on Lunar Calendar. According to the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau, some families celebrate the New Year both on Gregorian and Lunar Calendars.

In mainland Japan the New Year is celebrated with a boxed food called osechi (おせち) and mochi (rice cakes).

The University of the Ryukyus Library published an essay about the New Year’s Eve.

Kijimun no doūchuimunī / きじむんのどぅーちゅいむにぃー : 大晦日の夜 (December 2013)

A site in Okinawa shows some traditional, Okinawan New Year dishes and the recipes.

Related Resources:

You can find more resources by choosing “Subject,” and “Cooking, Okinawan” or “Cooking, Ryukyuan.”

subject heading in voyager record

Subject headings for Okinawan cooking in a Voyager record

The Asia Department at UH Mānoa is having an exhibit on the 4th floor in the Hamilton Library.

Check it out!

January 19, 2017

Tui nu Nen – Okinawan New Year Celebration by Ukwanshin Kabudan

Filed under: events — Tags: — okinawacollection @ 1:00 PM

Ukwanshin Kabudan Lunar New Year Celebration Events

Year of the Rooster Starts on January 28, 2017

Here is some blurb from the poster for the celebration:

“Reconnect with our Loochoo/Okinawa tradition of celebrating and observing traditions throughout the lunar year. Our ancestors followed the lunar calendar, and in Okinawa, it still plays a big pat in the lives of our people.”

Ukwanshin Kabudan Lunar New Year Celebration in 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017 Chinatown Feng Shui and New Year Preparation Visit

Time: 9:45am – 1:30pm

Place: Meet in front of entrance to the Maunakea Street Parking by the lei stands.

*Lunch at Mei Sum Dim Sum, approx $10

Purpose of this yearly visit to Chinatown is to learn where you can pick up things to prepare for the lunar New Year and to also learn about Feng Shui, which is also practiced and adapted to LooChooan culture.

*If you would like your personal feng shui reading, please bring your personal information with date and time of birth. For those of you who would like advice for your home, please bring an out line of your home showing the directions of North, South, East ,West.

Saturday, January 28, 2017 Okinawan New Year Celebration, “Tui nu Nen” 鶏之年

Come join us for a celebration of food, fun, prizes, and traditional Okinawan dances and music to celebrate the beginning of the year of the Rooster.

Place: Jikoen Hongwanji Temple Hall

Time: 5:30pm-9pm.

$20 Adults $10 children 12 and under

RSVP required for both events. Please contact or 808-845-5192 for information and reservations

In mainland Japan the New Year is celebrated on January 1st according to the the Gregorian calendar whereas in Okinawa the New Year is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar, just like Korea and China.

Ukwanshin Kabudan/Ryukyu Performing Arts Troupe have a Facebook page.

(The viewers may be required to sign in or login to view their page.)

January 5, 2017

Muchi Day

Filed under: news — Tags: , — okinawacollection @ 7:00 AM

Mūchī Day / ムーチーの日

In Okinawa some events are celebrated on the Lunar Calendar. This year Mūchī Day (ムーチーの日) falls on January 5. Mūchī means “rice cakes,” mochi (餅) in standard Japanese.

The leaves that are used are gettō (月桃) leaves, which in Okinawa are called sanmin.

getto leaves

[The image of gettō leaves from Japan Knowledge’s “Dijital Daijisen” / ジャパンナレッジ「デジタル大辞泉」より; accessed on December 16, 2016]

December 19, 2016

Born Bone Boon

Filed under: news — Tags: , — okinawacollection @ 7:00 AM

Born Bone Boon / 「born、bone、墓音。」(film)


Okinawa and Bonin Island share some customs with China and some Southeast Asian counties.  Shenkotsu / 洗骨 (or shinkuchi; there are some variants in pronunciation) is a burial custom. In this custom a person whose body is buried underground, then later the bones are taken from the ground and washed and buried again.  A Japanese film titled Born, Bone, Boon (2016) sheds light on this custom. The film was premiered at the 11th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia from November 28 to December 3, 2016. The film was also featured at the Okinawa International Film Festival.

Asia Department at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa is made of 8 area collections. One of them is the Southeast Asia Collection.  It would be interesting to see how many others customs and traditions are shared in different parts in Asia.