Footnotes of Episode 4

Shuri, Naha and Kume: For centuries, Shuri was the political center of the Ryukyu. At the feet of the hill where stood the castle were the villages of Shikina, Matsugawa, Makishi, Tsuboya, Tomari, Kume and Oroku among others. Naha was an island called Ukishima found where the Asato and the Kokuba rivers merged. In 1451, King Sho Kinpuku (1398-1453) ordered some major construction works, among which the “Chokotei path” linking Sogenji (in other words Shuri/Tomari) and Naha. Later Naha would become known as “Naha Yon Machi” (Nishi, Higashi, Wakasa and Izumizaki).

Not much is known about Kume before 1300. But with the arrival of the 36 families from China, Kume would even be nicknamed “Tou Ei” for “Chinese Prosperity”. Undoubtedly, these Chinese migrants played an important role not only in the relation between China and Ryukyu but also in the village development, influencing the surrounding Naha area.

However, with the abolition of feudal domains and the establishment of prefectures in Japan in 1879, the Okinawa Prefecture Building was established in Naha which became the new political, economical and cultural center of Okinawa Prefecture. The same year, the villages of Tomari, Kume and Kumoji were incorporated as the basis of Naha administrative district, and in 1896, it officially became Naha District. It is only in 1921 that Naha became officially Naha City. Surrounding Naha were still Shuri City, Mawashi Village and Oroku Village. One by one, the 3 were incorporated into Naha (1950 for Shuri and Oroku and 1957 for Mawashi).

(Source: Naha City and Okinawa General Bureau)


Daido: The Daido mentioned in the documentary is a district part of Mawashi district. Located north to Asato crossing at the end of Kokusai Street, it houses many hospitals and the Sakae-machi covered market.


36 families of Fujian and the Kume Shizoku: In Okinawa, the 36 families are known as “Kume Sanju-roku Sei”, literally Kume 36 surnames. 36 shouldn’t be regarded as a number of people but as a number meaning many in Chinese. These people sent by China Ming to the Ryukyu in the late 1300 were originally from the Fujian Province (Fukken in Japanese) and were scholars, navigators and engineers. Their role was solely to support the diplomatic affairs between China Empire and the Ryukyu Kingdom. They bore names like Sai, Lin, Kin, Tei, Ryo, Kou, Chin, Gen, Mou, Ou, You, Shu, Son, Sou, etc...

The Kume Shizoku from which comes the Yagi family are the descendants of these Chinese migrants. Today, some organizations like Kume Sosekai still preserve the heritage of the Kume 36 families and monuments like the Kume-Shiseibyo are landmarks of this legacy.

(Source: Kume Sousekai and George H Kerr “Okinawa - The History of An Island People”)


Fukushu–en: Ryukyu and today Okinawa has a long relationship with the Fujian Province of China. The capital city of Fujian is Fuzhou, respectively Fukken and Fukushu in Japanese. To mark this long history, Naha City and Fuzhou became sister city in 1981. The Park “Fukushu-en” that stands in Kume and faces Matsuyama Park is a beautiful Chinese style garden that was built in the 1990 to commemorate these relations and common history.


Miyagi Chojun: A student of Higashionna Kanryo sensei, he is the founder of Goju-ryu. See the Nahate-kei page for more on this subject. In Okinawa, the name Miyagi is also read Miyagushiku or Miyagusuku.


Seishin Shugyo: Spiritual training. This is emphazised in the maxim “Oku Myo Zai Ren Shin” meaning that “in order to find the secrets, one must first have spiritual training”.


Tanren: Simply said, the word means conditioning. But it could also translate into discipline, training and tempering both mind and body. It is one of the major concept of karate in Okinawa.


Junbi-undo: Warming-up exercises


Yobi-undo: Preliminary exercices


Chiishi: A stone with a handle, this tool is used to develop arm power among others.


Kaami: Also called chikara gaami, they are earthenware pot used to develop grasping power among others. Weight should be added gradually by adding water or sand within the jug or pot.