Japan from the inside out

War memorial

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 4, 2012

SOME people memorialize wars by prolonging the anger as long as possible, all the better to infect the innocent of younger generations with the same poison. Within that sickness, there is one benefit: It provides an artificial sense of meaning and life to people unable to find it in more productive activities.

But there are better memorials, and one of them was demonstrated in Itoman, Okinawa, on Saturday last week. The prefectural branch of Mindan, the South Korea-affiliated organization for Japanese-born Korean citizens, and the prefecture’s Japan-Korea Friendship Association held a commemorative ceremony at the Mabuni War Memorial for those Koreans who died in Okinawa during the Second World War. About 100 people attended.

Said the Mindan representative: “It is our responsibility to prevent the memories from fading and to never again wage war.” The chairman of the friendship association expressed similar sentiments: “It is our wish that the lessons of war be conveyed forever to the future, and for lasting peace to extend from Okinawa to the world.”

The event featured three performances of music and dance. One performer was Terukina Choichi, a national living treasure (an official designation) who played Nakafu-bushi on the sanshin. Here is his recording of it with Kinjo Kumiko singing.

Matsuda Akane performed the Karaya-bushi dance with a short song. The reports say the dance has Korean elements, but they weren’t specified. Also called the Moon Viewing Dance, the 450-year-old song-and-dance originates in a story told about a Chinese man who came to Okinawa and began to make roof tiles. This was a new technology for the Okinawans, and they were so impressed the King asked him to stay. He agreed on the condition that he be allowed to marry a woman who had caught his fancy.

She was already married, but when a king speaks, commoners listen, so she had no choice in the matter. The lyrics of the song are about climbing to the top of the roof, standing on the tiles, and looking to the south. The singer can see the inlet, but she cannot see her town; i.e., her husband.

This seems to have been a true story. They know where the Chinese man built his kiln on top of a hill. This hill:

Here’s the dance:

Finally, Kim Sun-ja performed the traditional salpuri dance. That’s her in the photo at the top of the post. Salpuri originated in the southwest part of the Korean Peninsula, and was performed to send the spirits of the deceased who can’t let go of this world to the world beyond. It has shamanistic aspects.

Here’s an idea: Apply that sentiment to those memories of the war which keep the poison circulating.

And here’s the salpuri:

8 Responses to “War memorial”

  1. Robert said

    By the way, Shamanism appears alive and well in Korea; a spot near town I regularly go inevitably has one or more ?Shamans?, nearly always women, performing their rites at a certain tree hard by the road. The rites that I have observed are rather interesting, including the shredding of long pieces of cloth, their passing around the body, and their tying, untying and retying; even the throwing of swords. (The level of activity might also relate to the current threat to the quiet valley from incipient residential development, that is exciting quite a protest movement locally, with many banners). Are shamans active in Japan? I have no idea. I was camping in Kyushu for a month recently, but saw none.
    R: Thanks for the note. The only Japanese shamans I know about are the ones in Okinawa. One of my Okinawan students last year told me her parents took her to one when she was about 10 for reasons she didn’t go into.


  2. PeterDownUnder said

    Shamanism is so pervasive in Korea that the large Korean protestant community has adopted many practises from the indigenous Korean shamanism.

    Practises such as “Early Morning prayer” and the the intonation tones of their prayers closely match the way Shamans chant and the large cases of trance like state of “tongue speaking” is very reminsicent of Korean shamans.

  3. Ken said

    There are are so many occult beliefs in Korea like following site that they keep looking for and pulling off poles with spending tens millions dollars for decades.

    Those were berried for standard point of geography or measuring altitude during Japanese annexation period but Koreans are believing Imperial Japan set them to curse Korean fortune or weaken Korean vitality.
    This is the beginning that I became a Korea-lauggher. Problem is that Koreans/Korean-Japanese are spreading cult such as Unification Church, etc in Japan too.

    Btw, an Egyptian in Japan, Fifi, played the game against another problem by foreigners.
    She expressed, “What foreigners are awarded public assistance (Food stamp like) is weird.” in Twitter.

  4. 21st century schizoid man said

    KEN: Very interesting, but are we sure about if the subtitle is precise? Assuming it is precise, it is jawdropping..

  5. Ken said


    You cannot believe it, can you? It is quite natural. I myself thought it must be a joke at the beginning.
    But they are stone cold sober as you can see they have been reporting it every time they found a pole as follows.

  6. 21st century schizoid man said


    Thanks, but the link showed an empty article and I do not read their language. You read it? Anyway, I drop my jaw.

  7. Ken said


    I do not read their language either. Rather I have no interest in it because it is weird with resembling Oden of Chibita in Manga Osomatsu-kun. Have you seen this before?
    So, you’ve got a Japanese site from Korea-laugher blog;

  8. 21st century schizoid man said

    Ken: I am familiar with Chibita, but Japanese laugher blog was very good, thanks!

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