Introduction to Okinawa
Okinawa Prefecture, located in the southernmost of the country, enjoys mild weather all year round, and it consists of 49 inhabited islands and many other uninhabited islands. The area of the prefecture is fairly large: the distance between the east and west ends is approximately 1,000 Km (622 miles), and that between the north and the south is about 400 Km (249 miles). These islands are surrounded by the seas with beautiful coral reefs of the world-class attracting many domestic and foreign tourists as a popular sightseeing destination. Also, its unique culture has been handed down from the times of Ryukyu Kingdom, and its tradition still breathes in the lives of Okinawan people creating warm emotional bonds between them. We, Cross Cultural Communication Center, would like to introduce Okinawan culture and arts that remain unknown to overseas students as well. On this page, we are showing you such Okinawan culture and spots of our recommendation.
Sanshin is a musical instrument that represents Okinawa Prefecture. There are three strings attached over the shaft called “Sao”, and the instrument is categorized as a “plucked string instrument.” It is one of the instruments that are imperative in the cultural area of the Ryukyu Dynasty, from the classical music of the Ryukyu and Okinawan folk music, to the folk music of Amami folk music.
It is said that its origin is “Sanxian”, the three-string instrument which was brought by the Chinese immigrants (久米三十六姓) around the beginning of the 15th century. The present shape of Sanshin has been modified and arranged to Okinawan style. In Okinawa, the name is written as “三線” (three strings) and pronounced as “Sanshin.”
At Cross Cultural Communication Center Annexed Japanese School, we aim for having our students from overseas touch the heart of Japanese traditional culture through the lessons of Sanshin which is a traditional musical instrument of Okinawa.
To the Web site (in Japanese language) on Okinawan oral literature:
Incorporated Nonprofit Organization “Okinawa Denshouwa Siryou Center” http://www.denshouwa.jp/
To the Web site (in Japanese language) on the tourism in Okinawa:
An Association of Tourism in Okinawa 国内旅行観光情報・大好き日本 (“Information on Domestic Travel and Tourism: We Love Japan”) http://www.gojapan.jp/ken02/okinawa.html