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Taketomi Island

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  • Japanese: 竹富島 (Taketomi jima)

Taketomi is a small island just to the southwest of Ishigaki Island, in the southern Ryukyu Islands. The island is known for its traditional architecture, festivals, and traditional culture otherwise.

Contents

Culture

Taketomi is home to the annual Tanadui festival, one of the most highly promote traditional folk festivals in Okinawa prefecture (i.e. for tourists).

The song Asadoya yunta also originates from Taketomi. Though more widely-known today by Japanese-language lyrics invented and promoted in the 20th century, the traditional Yaeyama language lyrics tell the story of a young woman who resists being given to (married to) a Shuri official; in this respect, the song was originally associated with local pride and resistance to Shuri's control.

Modern History

The island is today home to just over 300 people; as in many other rural and peripheral areas in Japan, Taketomi is struggling with problems of depopulation as many of the island's young people go elsewhere for school and/or for work and then stay there, leaving largely only older generations remaining on the island. Along with the rest of the Yaeyama and Miyako Islands, Taketomi also struggles with processes of assimilation into a larger "Okinawan" culture and identity.[1]

Immediately following World War II, Taketomi suffered from a different problem, however: overpopulation. While there are about 300-350 residents of the island today, in late 1945 Taketomi found itself struggling to support over 2200 people, many of whom had moved (or returned) to Taketomi from Taiwan, Nan'yô (the South Pacific), Southeast Asia, and elsewhere following the fall of the Japanese Empire.[1]

A folk culture / tourist site known as the Taketomi Mingeikan was established at one time to serve as a center for traditional weaving, supporting both tourism and a revival of local craft traditions. However, as a result of economic incentives driving the great majority of people to pursue other work, the Mingeikan sits largely empty today, with only one or two people typically present working on one or two of the several tens of looms in the hall.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Amanda Stinchecum, "Changing Parameters, Expressions, and Meanings of a Simple Sash from Yaeyama Islands," Okinawan Art in its Regional Context symposium, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 10 Oct 2019.

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