Saturday, July 25, 2015

Okinawa Folktale: Umiyakara and Dondon Gama

It Started in a Cave



A stranger arrived in the fishing village of Itoman a long time ago.

No one was sure where he came from but, they knew he lived in Dondon Gama.

It was a cave, on the hill, overlooking the town and fishing port.

Dondon Gama, cave, Itoman

A very successful fisherman, he became known as, Umiyakara (うみやから).

Roughly translated, his name meant: hard-working man of the ocean.

The prettiest girl in town, moved into the cave to live with him.

The beauty's name was Chiru.

Plot to Kill



The rest of the young fishermen envied Umiyakara.

If he was eliminated, Chiru would stop ignoring them and, move back into town.

They invited Umiyakara to go on a boat trip with them.

They brought along plenty of sake and, got him drunk, planning to drown him.

They threw him overboard and whacked him on the head with boat oars.

When he tried to get back in the boat, they smacked him on the head, again and again.

Finally he went under and, never came back up.

Believe in Magic ?



The next day, Umiyakara showed up at the port with his usual, record catch of fish.

It was as if the events of the prior evening never took place.

Umiyakara, didn't mention anything about it and, went about his business, selling fish.

Evil Buddies Devise a New Plan



The rest of the young fishermen figured Umiyakara was impossible to kill. 

They decided to write a song about him, Chiru and, their relationship.

Thinking the song would make the villagers ridicule them, it would break them up.

This plan backfired, too. People were delighted singing about the two lovers.

The song, "Umiyakara" became popular and is still sung, to this day:


Okinawan Folk Stories ISBN978-4-99009-146-0 P.90

Condensed from: Umiyakara Dondon

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