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Transforming Visions for the Future: Ifa Fuyū’s Search of Okinawan-Japanese Identity

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Title:Transforming Visions for the Future: Ifa Fuyū’s Search of Okinawan-Japanese Identity
Authors:Ishida, Masato
Okinawan studies
Ifa Fuyū
show 4 moreShinto
religion and modernization
discrimination against minorities
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Date Issued:21 Mar 2014
Abstract:Ifa Fuyū (1879-–1947), widely acknowledged today as the father of Okinawan studies, was the first modern linguist to study Omoro Sōshi, a collection of ancient Ryukyuan poems and songs. He was also a social reformist who struggled with the problem of Okinawan-Japanese identity. In At an early yearsstage, Ifa grounded his argument for Ryukyuan-Japanese identity on the linguistic fact that the Japanese and Ryukyuan language were historically “sister languages.” He was also influenced by James George Frazer in viewing the religious unity of people—Ryukyuan Shinto in this case—as an evolutionary stage that was to rise to the establishment of modern identity framed within the concept of “nation state.” After his encounter with Yanagita Kunio and Orikuchi Shinobu, however, a subtle turn emerged in his thinking. Ifa saw that sharing religion and a common linguistic root was not enough for the claimed Okinawan-Japanese identity. Accordingly, Ifa set himself in search of a much deeper sense of identity, where ‘history’ was no longer his goal but rather a springboard for constructing visions for the future. This paper considers questions of religion and modernization through the works and struggles of Ifa Fuyū so as to invite discussions for our own future.
Description:Presented at the Numata Conference in Buddhist Studies / “Violence, Nonviolence, and Japanese Religions: Past, Present, and Future,” held in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 20–21, 2014
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
Appears in Collections: Conference on Violence, Nonviolence, and Japanese Religions

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