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The Tonaki Song June 1, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

One night on Tonaki Island, we went out to this seawall with Sigrunn, new friends Kinjo and Saya, the pink guitar, the recorder, two bottles of awamori and some panda chocolates. Here was the result:

This song utilizes some traditional elements of Okinawan folk and pop music:
1) Hogen phrases (akisamiyo = oh my god, deji = very)
2) Musical battle cry “iia za za!” (a vocable = lyrics with no lexical meaning)
3) Finger whistling (yubi bue)
4) Lyrics about a drunken creeper (a.k.a. Yamada Denki)
5) Power derived from distilled liquor (and chocolates)

Now to wax poetic.

I read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha in 12th grade, and now there’s only one passage I remember (not coincidentally, also the only passage I understood):

But today he only saw one of the river’s secrets, one that gripped his soul. He saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new. Who could understand, conceive this?

This idea echoed through my head after our Tonaki trip, thinking back to the people, the surroundings and that song. It was a culmination of so many wonderful opportunities and happenstances that I knew could never be recreated. How did I end up on an island in the middle of nowhere, that no one has ever heard of? With people I might never see again? Singing a song in a language I don’t know?

It was a perfect night, but it was fleeting.The trip ended, the buzz wore off, the tide changed. That exact moment, on the seawall in the dark getting spooked by underwater phantom lights and wearing a chivalrous boy’s sweatshirt against the strong Pacific winds, now only exists in my head.

So I take comfort in that my one-time bandmates hold that memory too, and that maybe one day something similar can be repeated, and that I remembered to bring the recorder’s windscreen.



1. okidu - June 2, 2010

Akisamio! Sugoi!

2. susan lamerton - March 10, 2012

There is something about Tonaki jima that makes you want to sing Akisamio…maybe it is the heat or the sake. We went there several times in the 12 years that we lived on Okinawa and Tokyo. Nice song…
We always loved the way time seemed to stop completely while we were there. Susan, Walter and Barbara Lamerton now in New Port Richey, Florida and missing the beautiful islands of Okinawa..

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