With all these thoughts about preserving who we are and protecting our past, I felt like sharing one of my favorite songs. It was one of those songs that grew on me as I grew up. Though I liked it purely for the melody in the beginning, the lyrics have become a guide for me as a culturalist, musician, and person. Sorry I’m not that versed in the language yet, but this is my understanding of the lyrics.
One thing to note about Okinawan songs is that the lyrics don’t always work in the linear fashion we see in western-style poetry. Sometimes they are just incomplete phrases, or disconnected series of thoughts. To fully understand the poet, you need to look past the mechanics and focus on the imagery and the pure emotion the single words or phrases evoke. When you step back and take the verses as a whole, the real feeling of the words become clear and powerful.
Though I am not familiar with the background to this song, I was told that “Turaju” refers to Turaju Yama, which was a sacred hill in Okinawa that has been engulfed by a US military base. Presumably, the “Turaju Kai” might have been a group that formed to look after the area.
To view the song and translation, please click here: Turaju Ondo lyrics
To hear my version of the song (not a very good one, sorry), please click here: Turaju Ondo mp3